Angler's Mail features editor Richard Howard reveals six top pike fishing tips for rivers.


 UNDERFISHING of our rivers can be great news for the pike angler.

With silverfish populations increasing on a lot of flowing waterways – food fish for the resident pike population – those pike are thriving on the neglect. Some of them never seeing a hook.

And there’s some top sport and quality specimens out there especially for the piker willing to go walkabout. Here’s six top tips for searching out pike on small and medium sized rivers.



1. TRAVEL LIGHT. Don’t load yourself down with gear, you might be walking 2-3 miles plus, dropping in where you fancy. A rucksack, quiver, unhooking mat, bait bucket  is the most you need, take less if you can.


2.  SIMPLE CREATURES. River pike are pretty simple creatures, they’ll follow the silverfish populations. Find a good silverfish spot and it’s a great starting point. If you’re turning up blind,  get on the river for first light and look for signs of ‘food’ fish topping. You might be lucky enough to see a few pike strikes too.


3. TACTICS. There’s a couple of methods of attack – you can ‘search’ a length of water, either wobbling deadbaits like roach or smelt back to the bank. Or you can leap frog two rods along the bank with legered or ideally float legered deadbaits. Some anglers like to walk to the furthest point on a stretch of river they want to cover first, and then work back to the car. Unless you of course see fish activity on the way.



4. FEATURES. Drop a bait into all those likely looking holes and slacks that catch you’re eye, even if they’re really close to the bank. Work a line of marginal rushes from the upstream end letting a float legered bait flutter attractively down to settle on the deck. Search out those rafts of debris close to tree and bush cover. Pike can be attracted by the ‘splashdown’ of a bait so don’t be concerned about spooking them, that splashdown can attract a quick response. Investigate all those features where a pike could lie up in ambush – feederstream mouths,  inlets, the edge of any cover. Some anglers limit themselves to 30 minutes in each spot until they drop on a fish or two.



5. A SCENT TRAIL. The bonus of flowing water is it can deliver a scent trail downstream to draw fish up. So when float legering  or legering try and ensure your bait is leaking lots of ‘scent’ whether you’ve injected it with sardine oil or one of the other popular pike oils, slashed the body to release natural body juices or simply pulled or cut the head off just before flicking it out, to give it a new lease of life.


6. FAST ACTION. If you drop on a fish expect the action to come pretty quickly after casting out. The beauty on rivers too is you don’t how big that next specimen is going to be – 5 lb, 15 lb even 25 lb. With time you will build up better knowledge of your local river stretches and get to know where the pike like to lie up for future trips. And if you’re the only one tapping into the action, there’s some quality fishing to be had.

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