Matt Roche is a man that knows that success in River Piking comes with patience, and what success! Better yet, Matt, as he mentions in today’s post, is willing to share his expertise gaind from his own hard work with you! Matt can be contacted through our Fishamo Mentoring scheme!
I have loved all types of fishing since a very young age, but something awakened in me when I first had a roach snatched from my hook as I was about to lift it from the water. The memory of that marauding pike remains 35 years later. Pike is probably my favourite fish and a species where I can at least claim a moderate competence in being able to catch.
I would say rivers are my favourite type of venue. I have had three decent campaigns on three, very different, southern rivers each involving pike to over 25lbs, which to my mind is always a fantastic target size from venues capable of producing them. In recent years, I had not quite found the river piking I wanted but enjoyed some success on a couple of pits with a lot of doubles and a handful of 20s. However, I felt I was pressing ‘repeat’ on many of these sessions and knew in my heart that I was not going to contact any pike bigger than 21 or 22lbs.
A chance encounter while perch fishing led to a new friendship with a master all-rounder Nate Green. Somehow, a year or so later, like a couple rushing into marriage far too quickly, we were looking for a suitable boat to put on a river that really could produce pike to well over 30lbs. Nate found a fantastic option and we only went and bought it! I sourced a mooring and we were good to go. I might look at the perils of boats and engines another time but let us just say they are expensive and never straightforward! Our first trip saw us go 100 yards catch two micro jacks and limp home with a dead engine and one oar.
Subsequent trips proved only marginally easier, but I felt we might be figuring a few things out. We had now given up on petrol outboards for the time being and stuck to electric, which was slower but reliable and if fishing locally, much easier.
The breakthrough came in February while fishing alone, as I pulled into a shallow slack where we had experienced a run previously. Within half an hour I managed 6 pike to 12lbs. By no means the catch of a lifetime but a start.
I was back in the same spot a week later and had a take on paternostered bait almost instantly, I wound down and pulled into something heavy but the handle on my reel sheared off… with no tension on the braid the fish made its escape with ease. A spare rod was deployed to the same spot. Gutted and muttering I began trotting a bait along the ‘crease’ between the slack and main flow. To my slight surprise, the float on the trotted bait bobbed and disappeared and a fish of 19 lbs was in the net after a strong fight. Almost instantly the paternoster whizzed off with another take leading to a low double. This was more like it!
Later, I moved to a swim in the mouth of another river and was in on a trotted bait again this time with a 22lber all the time texting Nate too, probably unhelpfully, update of him of my progress. There were more doubles and smaller fish before home time, and I was finding new spots as I fished. (22)
I knew I had to get back as soon as I could and headed straight to the shallow slack. Two jacks in two casts let me know there was pike there, but I had to trot to the very limits of the swim before I contacted anything further in the shape of a 15lber. A quick move to a very deep slack saw another mid-double. Something had just clicked! The highlight of the day was yet to come though, on my return to the mouth of the river spot, in the shape of a fantastic pike at 25lb10oz. All the effort, all the money and a lot of blanking all seemed instantly worth it. In total in 2 and a half days fishing, I had 27 pike with 14 over double figures and two twenty pounders. They always say effort equals rewards, whoever ‘they’ are they are probably right!
I would like to come back with a more technical article later but if you want any info or tips, I can be contacted through Fishamo’s mentoring scheme on the website.
Tight Lines and enjoy yourself,