For a few years now I keep chasing predatory fish throughout various fisheries of the Yorkshire county and around. I mostly aim at rivers, small and dam lakes. I did catch some marvellous fish, yet for quite some I kept missing something. Everywhere I went, there were the same familiar faces. Races to get the best spot got quite frequent too. That really bothered me and annoyed me a lot. Fish, that I was catching there, were being pierced through so frequently, that many of them had deformed mouth and injured gills. That really made the angling much less enjoyable for me. I decided to face the challenge and start angling at the huge, glacial lakes of England and Wales. I knew that new fisheries may be hard to deal with and that learning the right way to angle at them may take a lot of time and give me a solid lesson of humility. I wanted to indulge in angling as it should be, therefore I decided not to use any help from local guides. I really wanted to master the fishery myself, as I believe that this is what this sport is all about.
First trips were pretty much just familiarisation sessions. I was exploring the water, checking where are peaks, flats, dips, slopes and how does that correspond to data stored in my fishfinder. Initially I managed to catch small and medium sized fish, angling at four to five-meter flats, covered with plants. Despite having been using large lures, such as Goliat (24 cm), I kept catching small, as per my experience, fish. After a few days of playing with the small ones, I decided to change something and to try to use trolling. Keeping my Goliat quite deep (around 6-8 meters), I had less frequent baits yet fish were bigger. I knew I was heading in a right direction.
While trolling between 16 and 24 meters, I noticed lots of hits on my Garmin Striker fishfinder. I kept wondering what sort of fish decided to like that depth so much, knowing that there were no zanders in that area. It turned out to be the arctic char. I started to wonder if those large pikes are not having them in their menu as a main course. The only issue here was the depth - as neither angling by hand, nor while trolling, was I able to present my lure properly. During an evening camp fire I came up with an idea that the next day, If the wind is right, I will try my luck with a vertical jigging.
The next day, as it turned out, I struck gold with the technique I chose. I needed quite a big lure, yet at the same time I needed it to have as little drag as possible. There could only be one choice in such case: the Saira. Large, meaty “swallow tailed” lure made by Mikado. I got to a deep water, released the drift anchor and began my vertical fun, keeping an eye on the screen of the fishfinder. I decided to start with 10 meters of depth, placing the Saira lower and lower. To my great surprise, I only had my first bait at 14 meters. Beautiful, healthy momma got caught with a full consciousness. The entire attack was clearly visible at the screen of the fishfinder.
I was surprised by how eagerly those fish were fighting. I have never seen any pike that would be so strong before. I think that the pristine, filled with oxygen water and lots of food may be key factors here. Luckily the Proclaim multiplier and the Octa Braid, along with the Excellence Baitcast Fight rod easily dealt with such conditions. Surprised by effectiveness of that method and by the fact, that you can actually catch pikes at such depth, I kept going on with my adventure. After a few minutes another depths, and arctic char delicate meat lover checked-in to my boat.
That day I caught a few great fish, using only that one technique and I was nearly sure that I mastered those waters much quicker than I thought I would. The next day turned out to be completely different though. The wind changed its direction and it was much sunnier. In the depths there was nothing coming up on my fishfinder and the water temperature got up by nearly two degrees. The entire, carefully crafted strategy went down the drain. I arrived to a conclusion that, since there are no fish in the deeper parts of the reservoir, there have to be some among the shallower ones. I decided to get back to those submerged meadows and flats. Bingo! Manga and Goliat were providing me with magnificent fish interchangeably. Magnificent, not only in terms of size, but also in terms of colour and fitness. This was exactly what I expected from them.
That day I manged to catch a number of beautiful, brave and eager to fight as nowhere else, pikes. What is interesting about those waters, is that no one introduced those fish to them. There are there for generations and generations, for thousands of years. There are no fishermen; anglers, that mange to catch them, are mostly angling passionate; not meat passionate. That is precisely what makes such places attractive for angling freaks like me.
Summing it all up and learning from my previous experiences: do not be afraid to experiment by the water. Sometimes breaking patterns and schemes brings amazing results and great emotions to live through. I would have never said before that you can catch a pike in such a deep water.
I hope that this article was interesting and that it pushed you to try new methods and tactics.
Break a rod!
Grzegorz Sawczyszyn (aka Mad Angler)
Mikado Fishing Team