In the picture: nice summer river-pike caught on a big streamer
River pike are real game fish. On average stronger than their cousins in ponds and lakes, they are capable to put up very hard fights.
If you’re after wild big pike, big rivers are the places where to look for, but be aware of the a challenge: more water to cover and the places where pike could hide are not easy to figure. Given for granted that pike like to hide in water weeds and prefer still or slow-flowing waters, there is neither a repeatable absolute condition, nor any easy mathematical formula that can help sort the riddle of when the fish will bite. Based on personal notes from recent past catches, let us see when and how there was any success. The notes do not mean to be a statistic, nor pretend to be an example of how to catch fish. Fishing for pike in large rivers is far less than deterministic. A 10% may be knowledge, experience, and common sense. The rest 90% is reacting to events and situations.
Unless one comes across the stereotyped, perfect sunken tree, drop off, etc., which even then doesn't mean a sure catch, one will have to try to read the water, evaluate the stream conditions, the eddies on the spot, and cover as much water as possible.
Will the fly have to be big? No, it won't necessarily. Big pike feed on lots of small fish. They like big prey at times, but not exclusively. A 10 to 12 cm streamer will cover most situations. Far more important is its movement and, depending on the situation, the capacity of the fly either to sink or to hover in mid-water.
Sunny days. Not the best conditions, regardless of the season. Caught something, but not the largest pike. One interesting remark, the fish that took the streamer were in shaded areas.
Spring pike, caught during daylight, in shallow water. Before the reproduction period, pike start approaching the lower water areas. Studies say that they tend to migrate to spawn, thus do not neglect to explore new spots.
Day with overcast sky to cirrostratus clouds. So far the best during the full daylight. In sommer with high water conditions, no colored water, pike reacted to larger unweighted flies (about 20 cm), retreived slowly and fished on an intermediate line. During late fall and low water: the pike in the picture took a 12 cm weighted streamers, fished with jig style retreive.
Cold weather, short daylight and magic sunsets. Would that fish got caught on a different fly, a sinking instead of a floating line? A different retrieval rate? Who knows. Only one is sure, that cast and that trajectory were coming across that hunting fish. At times a pure coincidence, a combination of combing of all possible spots and a correct reading of the water, a bit of a sixth sense. The more the time I spend hunting them, the more I learn that sometime switching off the rational thinking, leaving for a while the thousend theories apart, and relying on pure instinct is the winning move.
With the dusk even the biggest pike come to shore hunting? By a large gravel bank with a gentle gradient, ending on a large submerged plateau with a pebbly bottom, about 1 to 1,5 m deep. The structure of bottom was revealed by visiting the places during low water. This pike estimated at 15 kg took a fly about 12 cm. long, unweighted, on a floating line.
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