Pre-Baiting for Pike 2016
Pre-Baiting for Pike
Does pre-baiting work for Pike?
Well of course it does. There is nothing new about this concept but it does surprise me how few anglers actually practice it, yet it is so easy to do, costs nothing, and works so well!
A Shark angler wouldn’t normally dream of targeting his quarry without laying down a trail of blood and oil, and when it comes down to the physiology, Pike aren’t that different from most Shark species. Both predatory species have the ability to detect minute electrical impulses from a living bait-fish and also detect changes in water movement, both have heads similar to radar dishes to pick up these signals and both have the ability to detect the smallest amounts of blood in the environment. So why not put the odds in your favour?
Archive shot of a 33lb fish, taken over a bed of pre-bait, also taken at night
When I say it costs nothing, this is completely true. On any normal dead-baiting adventure for Pike, an angler using two rods or three if the law allows will go through at least half a dozen baits, and usually more if he believes in refreshing a washed-out bait during the day. If baits are whipped on with elastic thread (usually for casting distance) they can still be salvaged even after a Pike has been caught and released.
Some "left-overs" from a previous Pike sesion
Fish-baits chopped into half inch sections, adding extra fish oil is optional
Add some bran to soak up excess oil and juices for a good pre-bait mix
So, after every trip, rather than throw in six to ten or more used baits, bring them home, chop them into small chunks and either freeze or salt them down for the next venture. Salting preserves and draws out the oils, obscures any un-wanted smells and doesn’t take up freezer space! It doesn’t matter what the baits are, Roach, Mackerel, Herring, or Smelt, the list is as long as the selection of dead-baits you prefer to use. Add some bran to soak up any excess oils and juices as this will prolong the scent trail in the water.
Archive shot of a 32.5 lb fish, also taken with pre-bait tactics. Note the missing pectoral!
Obviously these tactics are made easier when targeting Pike from a boat. Drop in a marker float for accuracy and scatter the pre-bait in a small area several feet away (you need to avoid tangling with the marker float when playing a fish) then quietly anchor within casting distance from the hot-spot. There is also no reason why you can’t “spod” the bait out when fishing from the shore. This pre-baiting practice will definitely improve your odds of finding a specimen on the day, but obviously helps a great deal if you treat it like a campaign and return to the same mark repeating the procedure throughout the winter. Large Pike become used to the “freebies” and tend to hang about the zone.
Putting a plan into practice.
This year I spent a little time with the dead-bait rods on an old haunt that has produced decent specimens in the past for me. Each trip I dropped over my marker float and scattered a small bucket of “chum” in a tight area (approximately three square metres). Apart from the initial scoop of salt-water pre-bait I pinched from my salted-down Mackerel barrel, each consequent trip I simply used washed out or left-over dead-baits, finely chopped. Obviously it is advantageous if you pick an isolated area away from other angling traffic if possible. The less angling activity and disturbance the better the result.
A 2016 twenty+ taken over a bed of chopped fish
While fishing from a boat it is important to anchor or tie up from bow and stern to reduce movement, usually achieved by anchoring from each end with anchor lines taut. I don’t use bite alarms as I think they are un-necessary with this type of boat angling but always adopt float-ledger tactics and accurate depth set as this gives an instant visual sign that a Pike is interested. You have to keep a constant watch on the floats.
Once the trap is set, its a waiting game, with careful watch on the floats and clutch slackened
A high double and a twenty + taken using same tactics 2016
Going through this pre-bait procedure soon generated a “busy” swim with some big girls falling for the trap. This is not surprising. Over my intermittent Pike hunting career, (as a specimen hunter I only target Pike for a few weeks each year), I have been lucky enough to land four thirties and countless twenties. Two of the thirties and many twenties were taken through pre-bait tactics, I know it works!
A high-teen falls to the trap 2016, Skip looks on, she likes to lick Pike for some reason!
Another 2016 twenty+, this one at night after hail-stones!
So how did my handful of dead-bait sessions over ground-bait work out this year? From a specimen hunter’s perspective, I think it went quite well really. With numerous small doubles showing, a respectable amount of high-teens and four twenties landed, I can live with that, job done as they say. Now the temperature’s lifting as the season proceeds through Spring, it’s time for a different species! Tight Lines, and keep tuning in, Tel.
Although this 26lb female took a custom jerk-bait, she was caught over the pre-baited area 2016
This double shot, a ten and a twenty hit at the same time, one on a dead-bait, one on a lure, 2016!
Twenty six pounder "selfie" 2016
High teen, 2016