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35 lb pike

UK Quantum Specialist Consultant Gary Knowles recently banked a new personal best pike from an 800 acre reservoir in Staffordshire in the UK. The huge predator was taken on an 8” Battleshad using a Smoke 5-55 g spinning rod and matching 2500 Smoke reel. Gary takes up the story:

Although the rest of Europe measure their fish by length, here in the UK we still use weight as our yardstick, and in particular pounds and ounces. To put this in perspective, we see a 30 lb pike as a very special fish and anything over 35 lb as mammoth, a fish of a lifetime, this is a brief report on how I finally achieved that target.

In spring of this year along with a friend of mine we set out onto Blithfield Reservoir, originally set up as a trout fishery Blithfield soon became famous as one of the UK’s premier big pike waters. That said the fishing is far from easy, with a small number of predators and a huge amount of prey fish for them to feed on, tempting these nomadic creatures on lures is a real challenge, but, considering the size of the rewards a challenge which is well worth the effort involved. I have fished this water for over 15 years and it has been kind to me, countless 20 lb (10 kg) fish have come my way and a couple of pike over 30 lb mean I have a real love for the venue.

The morning in question didn’t start well, 30mph easterly winds aren’t really perfect for lure fishing but we eventually settled into a rhythm, using a Quantum drogue (driftbag XXL) to slow us down we were able to drift parallel to the east bank casting a selection of lures to the shallow water where experience told me the big pike lie. My set up was a simple one, a ‘Smoke’ 5-55 g spinning rod was matched with a ‘smoke’ 25 reel loaded with Ultrex ‘Super 8’ 22 lb braid. A homemade Ultra wire trace of 35 lb was attached to this and clipped to the end of this was a 20 cm Battle shad in ‘Ara’ pattern, a 20 g 4/0 jig head gave me more than enough to cast and get the lure down into the shallow(ish) water, and using a ‘stinger’ a size 2 treble was mounted on the lures back to allow me to ‘bounce’ the lure off the bottom without snagging up. A couple of hours passed with only one small pike to show for my efforts when I had a solid take as we drifted out of a shallow bay. Straight away I knew it was a big fish as it felt like I had hooked into a snag, however we all know snag’s don’t shake their heads!!!

With the drogue now safely in the boat I began to pump the fish towards the waiting net, the fight was dogged, but unspectacular as it often is with big fish in cold water and although I was expecting a good fish, I still drew a gasp with a massive broad back broke the surface. The slim ‘Smoke’ blank is deceptively powerful and I was now able to bully the rapidly tiring fish into the waiting net. The customary UK reaction at this point it to let out a yell and punch the air….I duly obliged!

With the strong winds pushing us towards the bank by the time we had lifted the fish into the boat we were already aground so it was a simple case of stepping out of the boat and onto the bank to carry out the weighing and photographing. It was clearly well over 30 lb but would it make the ‘mammoth’ category of 35 lb+. The scales don’t lie and when they pulled around to 35 lb-02 oz a lifetime’s ambition was achieved.

I held her by the tail in the freezing margins, feeling her strength return with every passing second, until she pulled strongly enough for me to release my grip.  It is immensely pleasing to land a fish of this size, but I find it even more satisfying to watch them swim back, unharmed into the icy depths.