Autumn is here, short days, cooler nights and happy pike. I avoid pike fishing on the Broads during the summer months, because boat traffic is intense and the water temperatures soar up. In recent times, anglers have become more cautious when it comes to warm water pike fishing. Particularly on the Broads where 20ºC+ water is constant from mid-June – mid-September, with many local anglers actively campaigning for a by-law restricting summer piking. Whether the impact is as great as claimed, time will tell, Broadland certainly has a number of issues all fish have to struggle through. For the most part, pike are in the best condition and most sporting through autumn and winter. With so many other summer species on my hit list, I can’t wait to get the big guns out and tackle autumn pike after such a break.
Autumn is a magical time for pike. They feed with ferocity as they recondition themselves for the coming winter. A high metabolic rate and urgency to feed makes autumn the best time to throw those really big lures. That’s exactly what I will be doing over the coming weeks. Covering ground with large search baits. A percentage game, draw in enough fish and a big one will eventually fall for it, right?
So here we go, a summary of the tackle and lures I will be putting to use for pike this autumn.
RODS, REELS & MAINLINES
With big lures you can fish heavy. Bait casting or spinning outfits are ideal. For the most part, I use a rod in the 20-60g range for the smaller lures, and a 150g casting combo for the big ones. A 100g setup is ideal to get the best of both worlds out of one rod. I keep the braid heavy, running 60lb on my light setup and 80lb on the heavy. With lots of snags where I fish it’s nice to bend a hook out and retrieve the lure. 40lb titanium wire is an ideal match up for big lures.
Swimbaits have been my go-to lure for years, they draw pike’s attention and get follows like no other lure. Retrieved relatively fast, they are a good option for covering ground. Big swimbaits in the 30cms+ range can pull fish from the depths like no other lure. I prefer to fish with much more castable 18-20cm versions. Retrieved with a steady wind, they are incredibly effective. Adding fluctuation in speed and dead stops can really trigger takes. Practice will reveal the best technique for fish in your local waters.
Perhaps my favourite pike lures. Tail baits are super easy to use and work effectively throughout the year. For my autumn fishing I like to go big, launching 20-30cm lures, fining down to smaller sizes as cold conditions move in. Tail baits are very versatile and can be worked at various depths through the water column, with both steady and paused retrieves. They fish particularly well on the drop, with the long flowing tails producing action from the moment they hit the water. Nowadays there are a lot of hybrid options, hard lures with soft curl tails. These often sink very slowly, allowing extremely precise presentations.
PADDLE & PULSE TAILS
Big soft paddle tails, they’ve been enticing pike for years with a plethora of designs. There are many pre-rigged options, I particularly like loose bodies you can rig yourself. Again, for my autumn fishing 15-25cm lures will be my go-to. With smaller lures kept in reserve for tougher days. Paddle tail lures are perfect for searching the water column. Aggressive jigging can trigger takes, equally, rigged light and retrieved mid water swimbait-style can produce the goods. Pulse tail variants have been used for a long time in the US, and are slowly gaining popularity here. They feature a fat, fin-shaped tail with minimal movement. This often puts people off, but it’s what goes on beneath the surface that makes them effective. Pulse tails are a very natural swimming design and that tail really pushes a lot of water.
Big hard baits will always have a place in my tackle box. Jointed glide baits and jerkbaits are perfect for covering those mid – upper layers. The seductive actions can really tempt lazy followers to strike. Jerkbait fishing can be extremely rewarding. Imparting your own action and style to tempt a fish is as exciting as it gets.
It’s equally important to take good care of pike. Big lures often require big hooks, and unhooking can be made much easier with good tools. I like to carry a set of pistol pliers, heavy-duty long-nose pliers and side cutters. Side cutters are especially useful for removing stray hooks, making unhooking a quicker and more pleasant experience. Rubber nets designed for lure fishing make handling much easier too. I always keep an unhooking mat with me to prevent any body damage.
All set for the season ahead, I’m excited to write about my pike fishing adventures throughout autumn. With some luck, I’ll even bag a big one.
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