Predator Fishing Diaries

Accounts of East Sussex Fishermens catfish, eel, perch and pike fishing experiences.

Pike Fishing on the River Rother

It was mid November, the carp season was over for me and it was time to begin my pike season. I set out towards the Blackwall Bridge stretch of the River Rother at they way to early hour of 6:30 armed with some fresh sprats, and a couple of herring, and a range of spinners and lures. I was full of apprehension that it was going to be good days fishing, and as it turned out, it was.

The first thing had been for me was to decide where to fish. I decided to fish the Blackwall Bridge stretch of the River Rother near Wittersham where I remember an old friend of mine had previously caught a monster 20lb 8oz pike a number of years back. I was also aware this stretch of the river was also used on regular occasions to hold matches, a prime location for lurking pike.

I arrived at the Rother at approximately 7:10, the sun was just beginning to show and there was hardly a cloud in sight, it was gonna be a nice day, sweet. I unloaded my gear and stood on the bridge gazing out at the river which seemed to be even wider than what I had previously remembered, trying to gauge where would be an ideal spot to fish.

A bare looking River Rother on a late Autumns day

I opened the gate and trundled along the edge of the river looking for any pike activity and any good ambush points where they might be lurking. After a few hundred metres of trekking with my gear I found an ideal spot, which was just as well, I was knackered. The swim had some clumps of old dying weed and reeds in the margins and some hollows where the pike could be waiting in ambush, spot on.

I set about setting up my rods. I had decided to drift a floating sprat through the centre of the river and to drop another floated sprat in the margins.

I set up the first rod with an old round cork pike float with illumines red markings on top and a wire trace hair rigged sprat. I moved the float about 1 metre from the bait so that the bait would be floating just below the surface. I whacked it out to the centre of the river on the right of me and began to set up my second rod. The second rod was taking me ages to set-up, I couldn’t take my eyes of the red glow slowly floating down the river, I was just waiting for a killer fish to pull the red glow in to the depths. I finally set the second rod up on an identical set-up. I picked my spot, walked along the river to the left of me about 10 metres and dropped the bait in front of a large clump of weed. It was then just a matter of kicking back and relaxing.

It was about 10:30 now, the sun was up, and I hadn’t had a sniff, I was still very hopeful but where were they, I hadn’t seen any activity, should I change tactics, should I try a bit of spinning, should I move swim?

All of a sudden the float next to the weed disappeared and then reappeared, and again, and again, I moved in to position and stuck. The adrenalin started to pump, how big was this fish? The rod started twitching as the fish fought to swim away from the bank but it was getting no where, this was either a small fish or a lazy fish, my money was on a small fish. One minute later the fish was in my net, it was a small jack pike. Not the fish I had been searching for but all the same the first pike of the season and there was still plenty of the day left to catch some more.

Small pike lying on the bank

I set the rod up again with exactly the same set-up and placed it a little further down the river next to another clump of large weed and set about getting comfy again.

I hadn’t been waiting long, when the float in the middle started bobbling up and down, sending out ripples in all directions whilst moving left then right, not the bite I had been hoping for but there was definitely something munching on the bait. 1…..2…..3 I lifted the rod firmly into the air in one sharp action…bam….there was some strong resistance, the rod bent over, then the line started to give as the fish was pulling line from the reel, I was sure this wasn’t a little jack pike this time, surely. After about 4 or 5 minutes battling with the fish, it finally gave up the battle, the fish was on the surface and I was in control. I slowly placed the net into the water so as not to spook the fish, I lifted the rod into the air and the fish glided into my net.

I lifted the heavy net out of the water onto the bank, this wasn't the monster pike I had been searching for but it was a very good-sized pike. I got the forceps out, removed the hook from just inside the pikes mouth and went about weighing the fish. I hung the netted fish from the scales, the red marker swung round and settled on 11lb 02oz.

Pike lying on a net on a grassy bank

I decided I had caught all this swim had to offer me, it was time to move swim. I moved another couple of hundreds of metres down the river to a sweeping corner that once again had lots of weed in the margins as well as a fence that stretched from the bank into the water. I decided to stick with the same tactics, why change what was working. I threw one float out in the middle to the right of me and dropped the other just by the fence that had a large clump of weed floating against it. I sat back in my comfy chair and tucked into a sandwich.

And another one

And another one

And a pack of crisps

This swim wasn’t producing the results I had high hopes for. I was sure there was a good chance of a pike lurking in this swim.

I tucked into a choccy bar.

The day was getting late and I was running out of lunch, it was about 4:20 and I had been fishing this swim for 4 hours without a sign of activity.

I glimpsed down at the float sitting by the fence, it had gone, I had another look, had it just drifted out of sight, no it had definitely disappeared, I lifted the rod sharply into the air….bam….this felt heavy, it felt like I had struck into a log, the rod bent over and the line started streaming out as the fish headed down stream, I definitely had struck into a log!

This fish was keen to get away and with the extra power of the river behind it, I could only oblige and let him take line from the reel. The fish must have swam about 30 metres down river before the resistance of the reel started getting too much for it, or it thought it had got away. I started slowly taking line in, pulling it in my direction. I think it had warn itself out, it was not fighting at all any more, I must have pulled the fish back up river to within about 10 metres of me when it decided to go again, this time the line was flicking off the reel much more slowly but still powerfully. I pulled the fish back again to within about 6-7 metres from me. All of a sudden out of the depths the fish appeared flying through the air as it tail walked across the waters surface and splashed back into the depths, it was a pike and it was big, the adrenalin was pumping, and even more so because the line had gone slack…noooo….surely not….I reeled in the line quickly until the line was taught once more.... After the brief moment of believing the fish had out smarted me the fight was back on. After a few more attempted get-a-ways, the fish finally appeared on the surface a few metres in front of me. I slowly placed the net in the water, lifted the rod and the pike slowly drifted into the net.

I lifted the bulky net from the water, this was definitely the biggest fish of the day. I pulled the trebles from the sharp jaws and hooked the heavy net up to the scales. The red indicator swung round to the 16lb mark before finally settling on 16lb 06oz. I

Large pike

The day was late now, the sun was beginning to fade and I was out of food, it was time to call it a day. It had been a great start to the pike season and had given me the taste for more.

Please send written accounts of your predator fishing experiences to support@fishe.net

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