The eggs can hatch within a couple of days providing the water conditions are right, although it usually takes anything from 10-30 days for them to develop. Once the egg sac has been consumed the fry begin to feed on zooplankton until they grow large enough to take bigger food sources such as insects & small fish. The mortality rate of young pike is extremely high due to numerous predators & cannibalism from larger pike.
Natural Diet & Common Baits
Pike are very much an opportunistic predator and it's not uncommon for ducklings, amphibians & small mammals to be on the menu if they happen to swim past. Although pike will feed on most things, it's fish such as roach & perch that make up the vast majority of their diet.
Dead baiting with coarse or sea fish is a great way of catching pike during the colder months of autumn & winter, half a mackerel or lamprey is a great way to get pike interested.
Lure fishing is another very successful way of catching pike, if not the most exciting! Not many things can be as exhilarating as watching a pike follow a surface lure, then see it strike in an explosion of water as it takes the lure.
Find the prey and the hunter will not be far away, that is good principle to follow when searching for pike, as is looking for any snags or features like reed beds or drop offs, these areas allow pike cover from which they can ambush their prey.
On rivers it can pay off to investigate creases, these are areas of sedate water adjacent to a faster flow - many prey fish will search these areas looking for food items and pike will likely visit these areas to search for prey.
Tackle & Tips
- Fishing for pike will require a strong rod, and there are many dedicated pike rods on the market in all price brackets. If however you are using a carp rod, make sure it has a test curve of at least 2.5lbs.
- A wire trace is a must as the teeth within a pike's mouth can make short work of monofilament and braided lines - aim to have a trace which is at least 18 inches long.
- Items that are essential to unhooking pike are forceps, pliers, wire cutters (in case the hooks need to be cut) & an unhooking mat.
- A large rubber coated or large knotless landing net is required when landing pike, as treble hooks can quickly become tangled in carp type landing nets and cause undue harm to the fish.
- Braided lines are great for lure fishing and dead baiting, their non stretch ability allows fantastic bite indication when dead baiting and superior lure control over monofilament.
- Lure fishing is a great way of covering a lot of water in a session and the act of covering water naturally gives an edge over a static approach.
- The traditional dead baiting season spans from late October through to early April. Dead baiting in spring and summer can increase the chance of a deep hooked pike due to their increased activity in warmer water. So when the warmer weather arrives it's time to get the lure rod out!