Coarse Fishing


Our brief, plain speaking guide to pike, delinquent fish of finest design.


The torpedo-like pike is the biggest and bossiest predatory freshwater fish you are likely to come across in UK or European coarse fishing, excellently adapted to its role as a voracious eater of all things on or in water – including other fish, frogs, rats, and small ducks. Its yellow/green markings aid laying in wait for prey in reeds and weeds – and hiding from bigger pike! – and its dorsal and anal fins are all near the tail, giving it startling acceleration over short distances. It’s the archetypal ambush predator, with rows of tilted sharp teeth and fangs that let prey slide in, but not back out. Mind your fingers!
Finding them
Pike is one of the most widespread freshwater fish spreading throughout northern Europe and North America. Look in lakes and slow rivers or canals, as they like to avoid exerting energy in faster flows. Youngsters tend towards the surface amongst plants, while bigger adults stalk deeper waters in cover.
Food and bait
Pike are near or at the top of the food chain of most of the waters they inhabit, so other fish and anything of comparable size in the water are fair game – though some have been found choked to death after attacking things just too big to swallow. Dead fish and carrion too are also taken where easy. For coarse fishing, small live fish are superb lures – gudgeon, roach, dace, for example – or, if you don’t fancy it, oily deadbait such as mackerel or sprat, playing to the pike’s reluctance to exert itself in alternative to a free meal. If you suspect they are in lower waters, just chuck some in and let it fall to the bottom.
Spawning in early spring near the vegetated edges of habitats, the arrival of females will often be heralded by males vying for the prime spots. The females – by far the bigger of the sexes – will lay eggs as close to the water edge as possible, and in fact even sometimes out of it in reeds or grass if water has risen up it.
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