There has never been a better time of year to catch a big river pike after a string of specimens to 34lb 10oz were reported.
The predator fishing headlines have recently been dominated by trout reservoir fish but this week it was the turn of their running water counterparts as they pack on weight ready for the onset of winter.
Pick of the catches was this 34lb 10oz monster to Nathan Edgell from an undisclosed southern river, but there were also several impressive 20lb-plus fish from both the Hampshire and Bristol Avon.
Nathan banked his new personal best just days after landing a 22lb fish from the same waterway. The Dorset man described his capture as ‘a dream’ after spending five years trying to better his river best pike. The specimen came during one of the 30 Plus-backed rod’s trademark roving sessions, from an area of slack water behind a willow tree.
“Things had not gone to plan and I’d had nothing all morning except for one lost fish,” he told Angling Times. “I’d told my wife I would be home for 1pm but it was 2.30pm when I returned to a swim I’ve always had a good feeling about despite having never caught a pike from it. I dropped my float as close to the edge of the submerged branches as I dared and by the time it reappeared from the cast I suddenly saw a flash and it shot under. I struck hard, there was a huge boil, and I could tell straight away that it was a big pike.
“She went straight towards the tree but with plenty of side strain and 50lb braid mainline, I was able to stop her. If I had been on 15lb monofilament I don’t think I would have stood a chance. Slowly I managed to gain line but she scrapped and protested all the way in and at one point she came tail walking right out of the water. My heart was in my mouth and I can remember thinking ‘she’s a thirty!’
“Panic set in and suddenly all those rod hours, heartbreaks and cold frosty mornings came down to this one moment. What a fish, strong spirited and wild. Finally I slipped her over the net. River thirties are as rare as the proverbial rocking horse poo these days and she has the potential to become an upper-thirty at the back end of the river season,” he said.
Nathan emphasised the importance of not being under gunned for large pike. He fished a strong wire trace, a single pair of trebles and a rudd bait, together with a 2.75lb test curve 30 Plus V3 Big Fish rod and 50lb braid.
Elsewhere, the famous Royalty Fishery on the Hampshire Avon has been on top form with a 28lb pike reported, although the captor wished to remain anonymous, plus a 25lb 2oz specimen to Ron Brooke from ‘The Piles’ swim on a smelt bait. Local man Terry Findlay managed to catch a 23lb 9oz fish on a dead roach from this prolific stretch too.
Mark Squire equalled his biggest pike with a 21lb 12oz predator, also from the Hampshire Avon, which was part of a four fish catch over two days.
And the Bristol Avon produced a 22lb 7oz predator for Carl Marchant as he smashed his personal best twice in the same session, following a 16lb 8oz pike earlier that day. Baiting up with a mush of mackerel and cod liver oil tablets, Bath angler Carl took the impressive brace from the Bathampton AA stretch at Newbridge on a smelt, having only started pike fishing a few months ago.