Europe offers fantastic Pike Fishing with the species abundant throughout the Continent. Pike can be found in most of the lakes, rivers, canals and also in large numbers in the Baltic Sea. Due to the huge amount of available water, the Pike angler does not have to travel far to find waters that will not only hold a good head of Pike but will also offer the bonus of some hard fighting monsters from the deep. The benchmark for a specimen Pike in Europe is 10 KG (or 100 cm in the countries that judge by length) and there are many caught every year topping that weight with the possibility to catch them from almost any of the waters throughout the year. Pike in Europe can exceed the magical 20 KG barrier and whilst you won’t catch a record Pike every trip, there are many thousands of lakes and rivers that could hold the fish of your dreams. It is well known that Pike thrive on neglect & many of the lakes in Scandinavia are never fished or might only be fished by an angler a couple of times per year only. This is due to a combination of the size of the countries, low human population and huge amount of waters available. For the angler prepared to get off the beaten track it is easy to find and fish waters for days on end without seeing another angler.
Pike spawn in the spring when the water temperature has risen from it's winters low. The exact time of this can vary from country to country and will occur earlier in the south of Europe where the temperature is typically warmer than the north. In Southern Europe Pike fishing typically occurs all year round although the warmer months can be slow and fishing during the summer can actually harm the fish and hence they are best left alone during this time.
Regardless of whether you preference is to catch Pike with lure, fly or bait fishing, Pike Fishing in Europe offers something for everyone.
Lure fishing for Pike is probably the most common method utilized by the European anglers. This can be done from the shore or from the boat using a variety of methods such as trolling, casting lures and jigging either at anchor or whilst drifting.
In recent years the emergence of fly fishing for Pike has become more popular and whilst perhaps not the most common method seen, Europe offers Pike fly fishing opportunities in abundance. The use of a Kayak or Float tube can provide access to parts of the water not reachable by other means and can provide the adventurous angler with an added advantage.
Finding water that holds Pike in many European countries is not difficult: Take a map and pin, close your eyes and stab the map with the pin and the chances are high that you will hit Pike holding water. Other more tried and trusted methods such as checking angling websites and magazines can also be useful to find the waters that regularly throw up the bigger specimens.
Once you have selected the water to fish the next step is to find the Pike. Pike throughout Europe have one thing in common, in that they are predatory fish that need prey fish to survive. If you approach the locating Pike exercise as an exercise in finding the shoal fish you won’t go far wrong. Before fishing new waters for Pike, it is a good idea spend some time Roach fishing as this helps build up a picture of where the prey fish concentrate (find the Roach & the Pike won’t be far away). The pre-baiting of an area with ground-bait (typically bread crumb mixed with corn & maggots) for a few days will draw in the prey fish to a particular spot and in turn the Pike will follow.
Much has been written regarding the benefits of pre-baiting with dead fish for Pike and there are conflicting opinions as to whether it actually works or not. This involves pre-baiting an area with either whole dead fish such as Roach, Herring, Sprats, etc or chopped up dead fish for a few days prior to fishing with similar dead bait on the hook. Whilst there is no guarantee that pre-baiting will work, it should not be ruled out as there are plenty of highly respected Pike anglers that swear by the tactic.
The travelling angler will most likely not have sufficient time or possibility for long pre-baiting periods prior to a fishing session and may need to rely on other means for locating the Pike. Being ambush predators, Pike will often be found in any area that provides shelter or structure that can be used to launch a strike on its unsuspecting prey. An island is always worth attention as the bottom will provide variation in depth and can be rocky as the river / lake bed rises. This provides not only a perfect ambush site for the Pike but also a natural holding area for the prey fish. Such areas provide the prey fish with some protection among the rocks and weed that will grow in the shallower water. In addition these areas are rich in food sources.
Weedy and rush lined bays are abundant throughout many European lakes. These bays can provide excellent sport as the shallower water is warmer than the deeper parts which will attract both the prey fish and Pike alike. A quick look at a map will help identify where to find these bay.
River Piking in Europe can also provide excellent sport. Prior to fishing ensure that you are aware of any restrictions. This is especially the case if the river in question holds Salmon as most Salmon rivers will have restrictions related to fishing with live or dead baits. Locating Pike in rivers can be a daunting task but similar concepts apply with other types of water. Pike will be found in areas where structure or shelter is available. This can be around bridges, area’s where rivers join, areas of depth variation, boat marina’s and either overhanging or underwater trees and bushes. The general rule of finding the prey fish and the Pike won’t be far away also holds true for river Pike.
What might seem as large featureless rivers also exist and whilst on the surface they may seem featureless, under the water can be a completely different story. A good example of this is Oulujoki in the north of Finland. To the non fisherman it will look like a wide, deep relatively featureless river. The angler equipped with a boat and depth finder will quickly be able to build up a picture of depth variation, shelves and drop-offs that all provide somewhere for the Pike to lay in ambush.
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Baltic Herring can be caught in large numbers jigging using Sabiki rigs. If you fish a simple Sabiki rig with size 10 hooks in the areas where the sea drops to around 10 meters deep you will find the Herring more than willing to hang themselves in large numbers. It is also worth fishing a live Baltic Herring drifted a few meters under a float as they can be deadly for the bigger Perch that inhabit both the North and South Baltic.
Fly fishing for Pike has started to become a popular method over recent years. Whilst not a new method, it can provide some spectacular sport in the summer months. Fishing from a small boat, kayak or float tube in a shallow bay and casting towards the reeds can provide access to those otherwise hard to reach Pike.
Fly fishing tackle for Pike is the same that you would use for Trout or Sea Trout on larger waters with a 9 or 10 foot rod weighted for a 9 or 10 line being ideal for the beginner. As you become accustomed to the differences with the heavier end tackle you will find that you can actually use lighter rods & lower line weights than you might think. Flies made specifically for Pike can be bought or self tied. Being typically longer than normal Trout and Salmon files, the Pike Fly should be dressed with material that keeps the weight down but also appears to have plenty of body. The examples below are readily available from tackle shops and can be self tied without too much trouble or cost.
A wire trace is an absolute essential addition to prevent bite-offs and a leader of minimum 7.5KG should be used. A thicker leader e.g. 10KG-20KG will reduce tangles and will not spook the Pike. Pike give a lively account of themselves on a fly rod and the sight of a tail-walking double figure fish at close quarters is something to behold.
The rise in popularity of kayak fishing has provided the Pike angler with new opportunities to target his quarry whilst afloat. Further information on kayak fishing can be found here: Kayak Fishing
The most common form of Pike Fishing in Europe is without doubt Lure fishing. The UK is an exception to this with live and dead-bait fishing very common. Some of the world’s best Pike Fishing lures are made in Europe with products such as Rapala Minnow, Rapala Shad and Kuusamo professor spoons being house-hold names globally. Lure fishing can be practiced from the shore or boat without the need to spend huge amounts of money to get started.
Trolling from a boat is an effective way of exploring new waters and covering fish in large bodies of water efficiently. It involves trailing lures or baits behind the boat whilst moving under the power of the engine or oars. Trolling accounts for many European Pike both small and larger from the Baltic Sea, lakes and rivers.
The angler that prefers to Pike fish using live or dead-baits will also be provided with fantastic sport across Europe. Whether you choose to catch you own baits or buy from the many shops you will find no short shortage of options that can be used. Using small Roach for Pike fishing is as old as fishing itself and many waters hold plenty of them that can be caught using normal coarse fishing tactics. The Baltic Sea is also home for large shoals of Roach, Perch and Bleak plus offers good bait sized Baltic Herring and Smelt that make perfect baits fished either fresh or frozen and used later as dead baits.