The predator that’s been around since the ice age

Angler Rupert Gibson with a 26lb 10oz pike
Angler Rupert Gibson with a 26lb 10oz pike

Pike have been around for millions of years and are probably one of the oldest, if not the oldest, survivor of the ice age, writes Roger Poole of Petworth and Bognor Angling Club.

They haven’t evolved over the centuries – they look and act exactly the way nature intended. Today’s pike mirror their ancestors, who have inhabited our rivers, ponds and lakes for generations.

They are a predator with the ability to remain still, camouflaged, and wait for any unsuspecting fish, frog or water creature to appear. The pike strikes and moves through the water at lightning speed, and with razor sharp backward leaning teeth, escape is unlikely.

This ancient predator, along with the perch, keeps fish populations under some kind of control. While some of our coarse fish stock decline, often due to pollution, pike often find themselves having to compete for food.

Ponds and lakes often have too many pike in them so the angler will have a good opportunity to catch them, but like all coarse fish they are returned to the water.

Pike have no hesitation in tucking into another pike.

The sudden thrust of this water missile taking my feeder together with rod just a few feet from where I was sitting frightened the living daylights out of me.

Roger Poole

When fishing for chub last autumn I was bringing the fish towards my landing net when a small pike (known as a jack pike) grabbed it – then a much larger pike took them both. Incapable of landing this trio I lost the lot.

Because of sharp teeth, if you do fish for pike, a wire trace is essential.

Pike anglers need a good strong wire trace and a suitably strong line, rod and reel. Thankfully live baiting for pike is banned almost everywhere so a dead mackerel or sprat is the answer, along with a sturdy pike float.

Making sure to avoid any contact with those teeth, pike need to be lifted from the water using their gills and remove the hooks using long arm clamp scissors.

Pike grow pretty large – so far my club’s record pike stands at 19lb caught from the Rother at Fittleworth in 2015 ,but that’s nothing compared with some real monsters – I think the current UK record is 36lb 14oz.

You can also catch pike using spinners and artificial baits, but for first timers wishing to go pike fishing it’s very important to fully understand the right and proper way to catch and handle them.

Pike won’t attack you – they are attracted by other fish and their eyesight is not that good, a bright object catches their attention.

I remember at Coultershaw Mill pond I wound in my plastic bait feeder and left it hanging close to the water and the light caught the attention of a pike that must have been lying nearby.

The sudden thrust of this water missile taking my feeder together with rod just a few feet from where I was sitting frightened the living daylights out of me. I managed to grab the rod before it disappeared, but it’s an experience I’ll never forget.

See www.sussexangling.co.uk for more angling news.

- ROGER POOLE

Read What’s the Catch? on this website and in the Chichester Observer every month

A social evening for sea anglers will be held at Pagham Yacht Club, West Front Road, Bognor, on Tuesday, April 5 (8pm).

Admission is £2 and there will be a bar and food available as anglers take the chance to pick up tips from experts.

Guests from the world of angling are Neil French, top south-coast charter skipper, who will give an informative talk on his successful

black bream fishing and tactics, and Dave Barham, an angling journalist, photographer and television presenter.

The evening is hosted by fellow local angler Mark Gillen. For more information, see www.kingfisherone.co.uk

Don’t miss out on all the latest breaking sports news where you live.

Here are four ways you can be sure you’ll be among the first to know what’s going on.

1 Make this website your homepage

2 Like our Facebook page at facebook.com/pages/Sport-Sussex

3 Follow us on Twitter @SportSussex

4 Register with us by clicking on ‘sign in’ (top right corner). You can then receive our daily newsletter AND add your point of view to stories that you read here.

Share with your family and friends - so they don’t miss out!