The pike is a near-perfect killing machine and the ultimate freshwater predator.
With its green and yellow polka dot markings, it is perfectly camouflaged and able to lurk in the underwater shadows waiting to strike. Couple that with a long, lean body capable of covering short distances at great speed and a head full of tiny razor-sharp teeth, and you have a creature perfectly suited to eating other fish.
Pike are also blessed with very good eyesight and a good sense of smell – something that is vital if the water is coloured.
The biggest pike to be caught in British waters weighed in at 46lb 13oz and was taken by Roy Lewis from Llandegfedd Reservoir in 1992.
Pike are found throughout Great Britain. Apart from on heavily managed fisheries, pike will survive wherever there is fish for them to prey on.
Pike can be found in almost all venues where there is enough food for them to eat. Ponds, lakes and gravel pits all hold them, as do canals, drains and rivers, too.
Knowing where to start fishing for pike can be difficult because they like to move around. But the normal features you would look for if perch were the target – bridges, underwater structures, holes in weed beds, overhanging trees and drop offs – are all worth investigating. Basically anywhere that provides an ambush point is a good place to start.
Of the two sexes, female pike grow much larger than males and ‘jacks' will gather around the females at spawning time in order to try and fertilise the eggs.
As a predatory species, pike eat a diet predominantly consisting of fish. They don't seem to favour any particular type and prefer to make life easy for themselves by targeting those that are wounded or distressed.
They are greedy, too. Even small pike have been known to take on sizeable prey, with some even perishing as a result of biting off more than they can chew – literally!
Fish are the mainstay of their diet, but they are sometimes supplemented by the likes of water rodents and ducklings. Pike are essentially opportunist feeders, so whatever comes easily will be consumed.
Spawning time normally takes in spring when the water temperature reaches 48F (9C).
Pike are widely regarded as a winter species, primarily because they are prepared to feed in all but the coldest weather.
The traditional – and most consistently successful – way of catching pike is with fish, either alive or dead.
Popular coarse baits are roach, rudd and skimmer bream, although sea fish like mackerel, herring and lamprey are very successful.
Should you choose to livebait, ensure the fishery allows the practice. Also make sure you only use fish caught from the venue you are fishing – transferring live fish from one place to another is illegal.
Fish baits are then presented on a leger or float rig but whatever you choose, ensure your tackle is up to the job. And remember, a wire trace is absolutely essential.
Aside from using fish as bait, another highly effective way of catching pike is with a lure. They are an instinctive species that can be triggered into feeding mode with a carefully worked spinner, plug or jig.
Whatever method you use for catching pike, be very careful when you have them on the bank. They might be the apex predator in your water, but they are extremely vulnerable when removed from their home. An unhooking mat and forceps are crucial pieces of kit. If in doubt, go pike fishing with someone with experience before going alone.
The Latin name for pike is esox luscious
Up until relatively recently, the pike was considered something of a delicacy in this country. Many cultures still eat pike but critics complain it has a muddy taste.
Be extremely careful when unhooking pike. Not only do they possess hundreds of very sharp teeth, their gill rakers are highly abrasive and will remove skin easily.
The British pike record stands at 46lb 13oz and was caught by Roy Lewis from Llandegfedd Reservoir in Wales in 1992.
Give your deadbaits added edge by coating them in Bait Factory Bio-Bloodworm or Krill glug. The added scent will help pike home in on your bait.
Another very effective, but vastly underused, method is using a groundbait feeder in conjunction with a deadbait rig. Try mashing up some fish, mix in with Bait Factory Krill and Crab Method Mix, add a Bait Factory glug, and insert into the feeder. The potent mix will act as a pike magnet!