A Pike Session

A Pike Session – By Pete Smith

Autumn brings thoughts of Pike, so Damian and I decided to book a boat at Blenheim Palace and go predator fishing. This venue had been hard on us the past few times we have visited; in 3 trips I was still to get a bite let alone a fish so the only expectation was to get a fish, any size would count. The Blenheim website is full of pictures of large Pike, but believe me, it’s not an easy venue. We got the boathouse a little late and were the last of 12 boats to get set-up. It is always worth while getting rods assembled before setting off in a boat, so we rigged up in the boathouse. It was then that I noticed my rod was snapped in 2 at the butt section, I decided that it would still work, anyway I was only going to blank again.


Broken rod starts the day.

Broken Rod

We set-up with simple float rigs for maximum bite indication. First on the 12lb line goes a small rubber float stop, then a bead, then a weighted Pike float similar to a large waggler, then another bead, then an egg sinker, then the wire trace. The rig below is shown before the depth was set, after plumbing the depth we set the float stop to about 3ft over depth. By using a weighted float and egg sinker you can set it up and use the lift method and get extra sensitive bit indication.

Rod Setup

Most other people were fishing close to the boathouse – which is a known hot spot, but why follow the crowd? So we headed for the other end of the lake. The grounds are superb and to be fishing in such grand surroundings is a real privilege.


View from the boat.

View From The Boat On Blenhiem LakeWe cast 2 rods each side of the boat and picked a side each to watch. It was only 10 mins before one of my floats bobbed away – guess what – on the Broken Rod!! A quick strike hooked the pike and a short fight with tail walk resulted in this 13lb 14oz pike. Taken on a 7” Smelt.

A Nice Double Figure Pike 

I must add a few notes about Pike care, it is well documented but here are my views. Always get “trained” on unhooking, by someone who is experienced. I completed a Pike Handling Course at Farnham Angling Society and this gave me some excellent training. If you are new to Piking then always go with someone who knows how to unhook pike. Always use Barbless hooks.


Unhooking KitMy essential unhooking kit is shown left. Including: 7” forceps for regular unhooking, 12” forceps for deep unhooking, and long bolt cutters for cutting up hooks if they are impossible to remove. Note: A leather glove is also a good idea, there are some fine chain mail ones which are on the market which are very good, John Wilson swears by them. We fished the same spot for a few hours but no more takes, so decided to move into the mouth of a spur on the lake. Damian decided to have a go spinning, but the water seemed too coloured with visibility down to about 18”.




Then after about an hour on of his floats bobbed and zipped away, the first run was very strong and it took line, but the result was a small pike of about 5lb.

5lb Pike


We fished on for a couple of hours and then decided to move again. Damian decided to use a Lamprey section, seriously bloody and messy bait. Lamprey section

Within 20 mins he was in again, this time the fish was a lot bigger, and it surged towards us under the boat. I told him to lift and then saw the bend in his rod, but the fish stayed deep. After a few minutes we realized this was a decent fish, perhaps even a 20! It really was a powerful fish. Then it surfaced, I extended the net, we got it’s head in, and then the hooks pulled out and the trace flew over my shoulder. A sudden moment of panic set in until I lifted the net and realized the fish was in the net. An excellent 15lb 12oz pike.


Damian was over the moon, a new personal best, well done.

A New Personal Best After 5 mins one of my floats disappeared and I was into another double. Guess what – it was on the broken rod again, and weighed 12lb 8oz, we didn’t Breakfast On The Boatget a photo of that one, just wanted to get it back in the water quickly. We finished the day in good Swallowfield Tradition – with a fry-up! Doesn’t bacon taste good when you’re fishing!






Tight Lines!