|Cuddles with our first decent pike from Kilchurn Bay - May 1988|
In the water, directly behind him, is a keep-net full of livebaits which we'd brought with us. All very much part of the
pike angling scene during this era, yet totally illegal today!
So it is here that I'll start my story:-
The planning leading up to that first trip was as thorough as we were able to be. As there had been such a long gap since our previous experiences, a lot of advances had been made in tackle technology. Although I still wanted to use the gear (rods, reels, alarms, etc.) that had been hidden away in the attic during my birding sabbatical, there was no getting away from the requirement to use the best available terminal tackle that we were able to purchase. Japanese hook technology was amazing, as was the modern mono-filament line and American trace wire. Don't forget that, although I hadn't been fishing for eighteen years, Simon and Benno were both heavily involved in the specimen hunting side of angling! We now knew that live-bait transportation was a non starter, the use of live bait let alone bringing it to the loch, from Kent, being illegal in Scotland, we did, however, have access to some of the finest frozen sea baits available anywhere. These were to prove to be a major asset, and still are to this day. What we lacked, on our first couple of trips, was the ability to keep these baits frozen for more than a few days, after which they started to lose their attractiveness, almost to the point where they were virtually useless after a week. Our catch rates certainly took a dive towards the final days of those particular trips.
|Benno and I with a double apiece, from that first trip back in May 2011|
I think that it is still fair to say that our early successes were still attributable to the quality of our bait and little more? We were restricted to bait presentation within the casting range of our rods; and chest waders - so there was more than a little of the "chuck and chance" involved?
|Simon with the second largest pike of the 2013 trip - 19 lbs 12 oz|
|Luke and Benno with a brace of doubles, something which has been repeated many times during|
the passed couple of trips!
|The two boys with another brace, Kilchurn Castle as the back-drop, from our latest outing|
Rods & Reels - use whatever you want! The pike have no idea as to the stoutness of the rod, nor smoothness of the reel? These items should be capable of handling decent fish, yet the requirement to catch sharks is not part of the equation. Use tackle that promotes enjoyment, but without jeopardising pike safety.
Line - the minimum breaking strain should be 12 lbs! My recent flirtation with braid suggests that this is the way forward. Yes, I agree it is expensive, but it doesn't degrade under the UV rays of the sun and, at long range, there is no perceivable stretch. Braid might not make you a better angler, but it will add to the experience of playing a pike at long range.
Indicator systems - If you are a fixed spool angler then an open bale arm and the back-biter is the only way to go! If, however, you are a seeker of adrenaline rushes and hanker for a return to the Alfred Jardine era, there can be no more fun than a centre-pin, pike monkey/needle and a front-runner alarm. There is, of course, a third option - you could always stare at a float!
Bait - I can only give advice on a very specialist area of this massive subject. I have been a static dead bait angler since the late 1980's. I've been very fortunate to have had the company of Eddie Turner for much of my early years. Through this friendship, I'd always been aware of how effective bait enhancement can be. I've played around with buoyancy, flavour and colour (and any variation on this theme) since the late 1980's. It has served me well in Kilchurn Bay.
The one thing about our baits, in this specific venue, is that they are most effective when they are small! I'd always been an advocate of big baits = big fish! Benno and Simon both offered an alternative theory - simply by looking at the shape of the pike we were catching, they are incapable of taking large (wide?) baits.
|Luke doing battle from the kayak - 2015|
Location - if you simply want bites, then it's a no brainer - cast your bait anywhere in Kilchurn Bay.
There is, however, another approach which may well provide a better return for the effort? Fraggle Rock has a lot of potential; fishing out towards the castle, could see your bait into 25' of water, an area the boat anglers have constantly targeted. The shoreline that has played such a key part in our recent successes has a channel of 12' , running parallel to the bank, at a range of 80m+ (bait boat territory?) From the castle bank this feature is also reachable, but you require chest waders, it is possible to wade out over 50m. Any effort to cast from the shore will see your bait in less than 3' and a potential target for the local gulls (always a fun time encounter)
|How many seasons can you fit in ten minutes?|
Kilchurn Bay will offer all the challenges any angler could wish to confront.
|Kilchurn Bay - looking north-east up Glen Orchy (April 2015)|