Although I acknowledge the effectiveness of live baits, I'm unable to bring myself to use this technique due to personal views based around an inability to defend the method to an onlooker. Illogical? Probably, but a decision I made way back in the mid-80's, over which, I've no regrets. Similarly, I'm fully aware of the phenomenal success that the use of modern lure technology has produced for many anglers. My son, Benno, and my brother, Simon, have both chosen this style of pike fishing, over more traditional methods, on many occasions and have caught lots of fish by doing so. Me? No thanks, far too energetic plus there's so much more to my time on the bank than just catching fish, if that makes any sense? No, I'm a dead bait devotee and will, impatiently, await events as conditions dictate. I suppose that there are two ways of looking at my pike fishing - either I'm very one dimensional or, as I prefer to view it, a specialist? Certainly, whenever I go in search of pike, I don't feel as if I'm in any way disadvantaged by this polarised choice of tactics.
To an outsider dead baits might appear to be an unthinking, chuck and chance, type of approach, the archetypal sit and wait fishing of cartoon caricature and I have to agree that this remains true of many dead bait anglers encountered during my pike fishing sessions. Fortunately this isn't how my own efforts are conducted. Much thought and effort being employed both before, and during, my time at the waterside. Indeed, some of my bait preparation can be conducted many weeks prior to the offering actually being cast into a fishery. I'm fairly confident that I've not used an item of dead bait as it comes, off the shelf, since the mid-80's. Once Eddie Turner had introduced me to the use of fish oils and buoyancy aids I was sold on the concept of offering something different, it was all about giving yourself an edge. Right from those very early days, up on the banks of Wilstone Res. Tring, I recognised the importance of working at bait presentation and have since gone on to explore further enhancement via the employment of bait dyes. None of this stuff is rocket science, the specific information being freely available to anyone who wishes to seek it.
In my own quest for an edge, I have meddled with all three tweaks, either on their own or in combination. If pushed, then I think buoyancy would be the aspect which has the biggest influence on my catch rate, thus aiding confidence whenever faced with a fresh challenge. Flavour is certainly something in which Eddie placed massive faith, and I rarely cast a bait which hasn't been given the fish oil treatment, especially if there is any tinge of colour in the water. Bait dyes are an additional string to the bow, and I'll always resort to the colour ruse if at a venue where other pike anglers regularly visit. This is particularly applicable to my sessions along The Royal Military Canal, indeed my best Kent pike fell to such a bait in Feb 2013 - a Herring tail section dyed red, laying flat on the canal bed.
To my way of thinking it's all about going that one step further. The majority of my dead baits are purchased from the fresh fish counter at our local Tesco, so anyone can obtain the same items. It is my insistence on flavouring and/or colouring these offerings, prior to placing them, individually wrapped, into my freezer which separates my baits from those of others. I carry spare syringes and fish oils so that baits can be further enhanced on the bank, plus I have a couple of small atomiser sprays of colour dyes which can be applied should I so decide. The buoyancy is now provided by the use of Fox "bait poppers" which have replaced my far less efficient use of polystyrene - how I cringe at those crude, early, efforts, yet I still caught more than my fair share of decent pike during the period despite the methodology.
|One of my very early "twenties" taken on a fish oil infused dead bait|
|Royal Military Canal success|