As far as fossilised remains show, pike has been around longer than all other freshwater species in the British Isles, showing that it is not only the ultimate predator, but also the ultimate survivor.

A pike's large, powerful tail propels it forward at impressive speed. A pike will catch its prey fish more often than not, however, due to its poor timing it will miss every now and again. Its colossal jaws allow is to swallow anything little smaller than itself - fur, feather or scales.

Almost regardless of the weather, pike can be caught at any point from June through to March.

In most fisheries, a pike around 20lb, usually measuring around 40in, is considered the specimen size to aim for, although its ultimate weight potential is probably around 50lb.




Pike are not only physically better equipped than any freshwater fish, in the hunting senses of sight, hearing and sonar but they are also unequalled in its fantastic colouration and camouflage pattern.

The grey-green colour with zigzag markings across its back and the intricate pattern of spots along its flanks are accentuated in clear water. Cleverly, the pikes colour will change accordingly when in heavier coloured water.







Embedded in the lower jaw of a pike are large, sharp teeth, that the pike will use to hold and incapacitate its prey. In the upper jaw, smaller teeth in their hundreds point backwards, preventing any prey from going anywhere but towards the pike's throat.

Most commonly, pike will lie in wait between reed stems and ambush prey from there, however they will also group together and drive a big shoal of fry or small fish into an area such as a small bay, where there will be no escape other than gritting your teeth and swimming for it! Pike will also scavenge dead or dying fish that they find, from the bottom. It will gulp down small fish immediately, however with larger meals it will grip its food sideways tightly until it is almost dead, then, using its sandpapery tongue, it will turn it and swallow it head first.

The pike will eat far less and far slower during times pf severe winter weather, due to its metabolic rate being greatly slowed down, causing the pike to take more time turning and swallowing a meal than it would in the summer. This is something worth bearing in mind when presenting large baits - the bait probably will not have been turned by the pike when you strike, so when the pike feels pressure from the rod tip, it will open its mouth and let go of the bait.

It will eat other fish, rodents, water birds, amphibians and the larger crustaceans such as crayfish.




Pike generally spawn in April, earlier than most other coarse fish species, then going onto feed on the thousands of other fish that spawn several weeks later. Three or four males will accompany a female who is heavy with spawn, and together they will find shallow weedy areas where the eggs can be laid. The eggs, once laid and the males have sprayed milt over them, will hatch within two weeks and the fry grow fast, feeding on plankton and tiny crustacea, then aquatic insects, and also the fry of other fish, while staying close to the weeds for safety.




Pike will occasionally group together although not as a shoal as such. The pike's prefered habitat will need to be found rather than the individual fish - unlike fish such as tench or carp, who send up bubbles and reveal where they are, observation alone will not often tell you the position of pike. To find a likely pike spot, knowledge of the various ambush habitats of pike, along with imagination and perseverance will be needed.


Pike are very lazy, so subsequently you will very rarely find one in rapid, turbulent waters. They are generally found in areas that shoals of roach, bream, chub or dace live, as they never like to be too far from their next meal. As they prefer to ambush fish, they will be hiding in clumps of bullrushes, tall reeds, sunken trees, in slow back-eddies, deep channels, sudden depressions in the river-bed, in holes on the bends, at the confluence of a ditch or side stream and the main river, in weir and mill pools and so on.

The summer will see pikes in amongst the leaves of the yellow water-lily, along the margins of slow-moving rivers and backwaters. In the winter, when the water-lilies have gone, pike will hide in deeper areas. 


The deep water habitats where pike are found during winter months are not always obvious. Stillwaters require preparatory work with a plummet to work out a plan of the bottom contours. This is much easier if you have use of a boat. Even quicker is an echo-sounder, such as the Humminbird fish-finder, although only a small percentage of anglers use these currently.

During low temperatures, shoals of small fish will seek refuge in the deeper parts of the water. The pike is aware of this and will therefore be in the same area mostly, although they can be found in the margins beside reed beds, lily roots etc.



Look out for...


Locate river bridges and pike won't be too far away.

Fallen trees and overhanging trees will attract pike.

Marginal reedbeds offer perfect camouflage to a pike.





Pike is the most widely distributed fish in the British Isles, helping to maintain a balance between predator and prey. People fish for pike right across the entire northern hemisphere, from North America and Canada to Europe and Northern Asia. 



Best baits for catching pike...






Have you caught a pike of 10lb or over? Click HERE to see if you've qualified for a Shimano Mission Accomplished badge and a chance of winning quality tackle with Catch of the Month...


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