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Pike in winter

By Bernard Breton

Pike in winter Winter used to be considered one of the best seasons for pike fishing. Perhaps anglers have become sensitive to the cold. Although winter is more difficult than autumn it still remains an excellent period for pike provided the angler is acquainted with various techniques.

Without a doubt autumn is the best period for pike fishing. Small fish are less active but pike are always hungry and as prey is scarce fishing seems easier. In the heart of winter conditions change: white fish are huddled on the bottom and hardly move except for a short period during the day. Pike are less hungry but they rarely turn down an easy prey. Pike remain active and do not become lethargic, however, they do not feed regularly but only at certain times followed by 3 or 4 days without feeding unless an easy prey turns up.

Winter fishing has one advantage over autumn fishing: the fallen leaves of November have disappeared and fishing is easier. In rivers the best time to fish is when the level of the water is rising. Cold dry weather is also a very good time with two periods of increased activity: in the morning when the sun is rising and at the end of the day when daylight is fading. Some anglers prefer the warmest hours in the beginning of the afternoon when conditions are more comfortable. An easterly wind is not good but a north westerly wind is excellent. Then you must face the elements and take up a position on the most exposed bank. The wind will bring small prey and vegetation for bleak and small roach towards this spot. Generally the pike will follow. During this period predatory fish will not go very deep (1 to 2 m).
Any spot where water runs into rivers and ponds constitutes a favourable zone for pike. The water is a little warmer which is enough to attract white fish and pike.

Young roach, bleak, and silvery dace make the best livebait, they are more resistant to the cold than crucian carp and young carp and tench. Which is the best technique to use in winter? Fishing with livebait is more comfortable especially when it is very cold. Fishing is generally carried out 50 cm to 1 m above the bottom. As in summer the spot should be sounded out in order to adjust the line correctly. A float is recommended as it prevents the livebait from sheltering on the bottom. The angler can also use the stalking method by moving along the bank to try his luck wherever there is an obstacle.

Deadbaiting or fishing with large soft lures can produce good results but only if the temperatures are above freezing otherwise too much time is spent removing ice from the rings. The layer of water just above the bottom should be prospected from the various spots. If the sun is shining spoons or plugs can be used. In winter reeds fall into the water and lures enable larger areas to be searched.


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