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Autumn Mission: BIG PIKE

Autumn is just around the corner - the hunt for the big pike will finally begin! To grow into a good size, they need to eat well. That is why their diet ideally consists of large prey. Attacking prey consumes the same energy regardless of the size of the prey. Larger prey means a bigger meal, which equals more energy. So for Mr Esox, the math is easy, if he wants to get bigger and survive the cold winter season. Eat or be eaten!

The Big Bait Technique

The Big Bait technique (Big Baiting) is based on this natural phenomenon. To seduce a large pike with this method, I recommend using large lures (over 15 cm). Also, you will need to be well equipped to resist the weight of the lures (over 50 gr) and large fish.

Equipment

This is very important to successfully catch your big fish. It starts with a suitable landing net: choose the large and wide option, with a long plastic mesh net. Avoid problems with fitting a beautiful fish into the net (too little net will not fit a big pike). Before the release, the pike can stay safely in the water in the net, as you organize its exit.

To unhook the pike, think big and have real long pliers like the Rapala Long Reach Pliers or RCD Hook Remover to get the lure from the back of the mouth. Side cutters are also a good accessory for cutting treble hooks, in case unhooking without damaging the fish is not otherwise possible.

Then think of a release mat like the Rapala Weigh & Release Mat. Handling the pike in the release mat prevents the pike from losing its mucus (the slimy coating on its skin), which is vital to it. You want to release the fish in the best shape possible. So handle your fish in a release mat when taking measurements and pictures.

Rod and Reel

For big choose a casting combo!

For this hunt, I think that you should not be afraid to fish with equipment adapted to the desired fish. It is quite possible to catch very large pike with a 10-30 gr rod. But I believe that you need a rod that makes it possible to cut down the fight time to prevent a big fish from getting too exhausted and not managing to swim off again. This is if you practice sport fishing with the desire to release the catch in its best condition. I recommend tracking fish this large with at least a 20-80 gr power rod depending on the lures you want to cast.

For reels, you need a reel made for heavy work. Indeed, if your reel is not suitable, its drag will give in quite quickly. I prefer large spool reels because I use a large diameter braid. The sizes 200, 300 and 400 are perfect!

What I’m using in a nutshell:

Rod size Reel size Braid size
Casting 20-80g Minimum 200 Minimum 0.20
Casting 50-120g Minimum 300 Minimum 0.25
Casting 100-250g and up Minimum 400 Minimum 0.30

 

The Rig

The main line will be made of 20 to 30/100 braid depending on the power of the rod. At the bottom of the line, I am using a 90 to 100/100 fluorocarbon with a length of +/- 60 cm. I finish with a minimum 80 lbs snap or split ring to avoid any risk of opening the staple when a bigger fish is on.

All of this may seem like its oversized tackle. However, I highly recommend making the fight time as short as possible, so that only as little as possible of the fish’s energy is consumed. Another perk of upsizing is that the gear (and lines) do not break down easily - this keeps the fish from running away with precious lures in their mouths. 

Lures

Soft lure fishing will be possible during the Autumn in all weather conditions. Try lures like the Storm R.I.P. T-Bone and the Rapala X-Rap® Peto. In high winds, remember to use paddle tail lures, large spinners or rattle lures. Big jerkbaits are also effective – retrieve them with pauses. Try jerks such as X-Rap® Haku, Super Shad Rap® and Super Shadow Rap®. It will be necessary to adapt the presentation of the lure depending on the weather conditions. Try the following presentations: linear, Jerk and "stop and go".

Regarding the size of the lure; in Autumn, I fish for pike with lures that are at least 15 cm long. But on average, I prefer 20-25 cm lures. There is no maximum size; a large pike can easily take a lure of 30 cm and more. Above all, adapt your lure to the size of the largest prey in your fishing area. In some case, 15 cm is already a big bait compared to the prey that might be present in the area.

But beware: casting “Big Meat" is not enough. It is essential to adapt your behaviour that allows you to succeed...

THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE SPECIMEN HUNTER

The State of Mind

Like the quest for the holy grail, the big pike of your dreams must be earned. A strong mind is required because this search for a large specimen requires a lot of patience from the angler. You can fish a whole day for just one bite…. But at the end of it, there might be your new personal best. So keep that in mind - it pays big!

Tiring Fishing

Big pike have hunting periods which can be very short. The concentration of the angler is important. During 10 hours of fishing, you get tired. Especially when the first bite is late. It’s hard, but that’s the price to pay. Sometimes you will have to do several trips before the first beautiful fish is landed. Or, as happened to me: after 30 minutes of casting you have your big mama in the net! It's fishing!

Responsible fishing

If you are a fan of sport fishing and catch & release, know that a good-sized fish is a precious specimen. It is necessary to take the greatest care. Fish responsibly.

Another challenge: a fish must be handled with care, especially large ones. Act calmly, but firmly. Do not leave anything lying around in the boat (hooks!) because it could hurt or injure you. It is important to keep the fish out of the water for a short time only. Everything must be done very quickly, in 2 minutes the fish should be returned back to their element. Between landing, measurements and photographing, put the fish back in the net to rest. If the fights are short, and the handling is quick, the fish will swim away in a good condition.



Video has English subtitles

How to Find a GOOD Pike Spot?

Borders with heavy vegetation tend to have warmer water temperatures for longer. They are  favoured spots for power fishing, because if the prey have not deserted the area due to a long period of cold, they will certainly be heavily hunted by the predators in the area. I fish systematically by casting close to the reed bed, or pond weed, if they are located on the edge of open water. On a large lake, this tactic can pay off: fish with softbaits , jerkbaits or jerks and use the effective presentation style called "walking the dog".

The shallows are real saviours, if you dare to be left empty-handed! There are always several carnivorous species that come to these spots to feed. Shallows close to openings with significant depths are also perfect. These spots have proved their worth. Other good spots to look for are places that have submerged trees or other good hideouts for the fish. 

In rivers, the favourable zones are those where there will be prey present. The shallow shore favours the development of seagrass beds and predators can be found there on the lookout. Deep pits are great places too: there are baitfish. You really must find the baitfish to often find the pike. A key piece of information that allows you not to miss the day's catch, is the observation of a hunt or the presence of prey.

If there is one pike season you should not miss, it is the Autumn. Often very productive and rich in emotions, since there will still be the difficulty of finding the fish, as always. Do not forget to enjoy this beautiful season while waiting for “THE” bite! 

My last tip is that if you're going for the big fish, keep this post in mind. Indeed, the pike is a more or less sedentary fish; it tends to rarely changes its position. So remember to return to that good location next time.

Finally, know that ‘Big Bait’ is not the silver bullet for the big pike. It is a technique to be used at the right time. The main thing is to present what the fish really want, but if they want a big lure, be well equipped.