Most people who go fishing abroad do so because they dream of catching a beautifully coloured pike that’s more than 100 cm long. Fall is here and that’s when the struggle starts. You don’t have to go far – Polish Masurian lakes will do just fine. I was born here and I’ve been fishing here all my life. I would like to share with you some of my knowledge about catching pike in deep water. Contrary to what many anglers think it’s not about looking in shallow spots or weedy bays.
The spot: The Masurian region is primarily known for its ribbon lakes, where the water can get as deep as 40+ meters and it’s very hard to locate a predator. I’m mostly talking about lakes near Giżycko, the capital of the region. These waters are hard to fish in but no one said it was going to be easy. I take a fish finder with me when I go in order to locate big drops, underwater mountains and flat surfaces that are at least 10-15 meters deep. It also shows me shoals of cisco and whitefish.
The tackle: I like to take 1.98, 2.00 and 2.10 meter rods with 40g, 70g and even 100g casting weights. I choose rods with a fast action, 3000 and 4000 size reels and strong multipliers. I always use reliable Octa Braid Nihonto braided lines (0.14, 0.16 and 0.20 mm in diameter). The soft lures are 15 to 25 cm long with 15-40 g jig heads, and the wobblers 12 to 20 cm.
Once on the fishery I start to fish around underwater hills or downward slopes. I let the lure drop completely to the bottom with a closed bail and a taut braided line – pike often strike on the drop. I always try a soft lure in natural colors first in order to check how active the fish are. On rainy days I get creative with neon colors. If the fish are active you can usually get bites on the first few casts using a lure in natural colors – a wobbler or a soft lure that imitates a perch, a roach or a cisco.
Fall is the last moment when you can catch a large pike. The water temperature starts to drop and the underwater vegetation, which is the predators’ favourite hiding spot, starts to die out. After I cast around a spot a bunch I start moving toward the middle of the lake to deeper parts of the water. There I use heavier lures and wobblers that can go deeper down. Pike don’t like sunny, windless weather when the water stands still and the surface is smooth. The perfect pike conditions are: even atmospheric pressure, preferably somewhere between 1005 and 1010 hPa, cloudy and windy. That creates waves that stir the water. I think an angler should be prepared to face any conditions to catch a fine fish. Very often we get discouraged after fishing for an entire day and never catching anything. We think there are no fish in the spot. But then evening comes and with it the fish. They don’t feed for long but for a while they become very active and you can catch many. The most beautiful pike I have ever caught came to me in the evening. If the bites are weak and the fish takes my lure under the boat that means that it’s only interested in the color. I then change the soft lure to a smaller one and move it more slowly, tugging softly upwards. I move the wobblers in a steady motion, with longer tugs. To a pike that looks like a small fish running away, which entices it to attack. It pays off to have a large selection of lures in different colors and sizes on you – pike are often fickle.
Another fishing technique I enjoy is trolling.
Some consider it a bit boring but it can be very effective! If you use a selective 20+ cm lure and to fish using your hand you will get tired pretty fast. It’s better to drop the lure to the depth where the predators are. I know the soft lures and wobblers well enough to be able to easily estimate how low they should go. For example Mikado’s 22 cm Goliat is a meaty soft lure that weighs 97 g plus a 40 g screw-in jig head (so 137 g all together) will go around 8-10 meters deep if you put in on a 40 cm length of braided line (0.16 mm). The exact depth also depends on how fast the boat is going. I often hear others saying that if you’re going for large pike your tackle should be sturdy and inelegant. 0.20 mm braided line, minimum and a rod with a huge power reserve, up to 150g. Personally I prefer to use more delicate pieces and they have never failed me. I get big fish (90 – 100+ cm) onto the boat within 5-10 minutes from the moment they bite, so they aren’t tired and remain in good condition. Another advantage of thin braided lines is that they create less friction underwater and allow the lure to go deeper. You can often spot big fish directly under a shoal on your fish finder – they look like arches (bananas). That can only be a pike keeping an eye on its herd. I always try to catch it.
I turn the boat around, set the right lure depth and go back over the same spot again. In the fall the water gets colder and clearer, so the lure can be seen from a few more meters away even if it’s deep down. It’s not a problem for a pike to spot a lure from 3 meters away. If the fish finder shows that it’s at meters deep I move my lure around the 6 meter mark because I know that the fish will be able to see it. Trolling can get boring after some time but if you hit the right place at the right time – when the big fish are feeding – it can be really great.
The satisfaction of getting a 100+ cm fish is so great that you can go several kilometers and only catch one and you will still be happy.
Even after a whole day of fishing a fish like that can make you so happy. Of course, there are days when you can catch many beautiful fish. Many factors, such as the weather and the time, have to come together. I really encourage you to penetrate the deep water in search of big pike. Remember – you have to be patient and you can’t give up.