Friday, 3 November 2017


Since the previous post I've made a few attempts at writing another but just dried up. And the longer I leave it, the harder it gets. The problem isn't lack of material but rather the opposite. Where to start...?

Anyway, filling a twelve week gap with one post is impossible, so here is just a small bite...

Rob and I have begun another winter pike campaign on the Exeter Canal. We've caught a handful thus far, including this one from October...

14lb 8oz of muscular sardine-eater. I wonder what happened to its tail?

Rob has caught the biggest at 16lb, but unfortunately I wasn't there and so the photo is just a poor record shot on the unhooking mat. Rob has been fishing right through the night mostly, and I've usually been able to join him until late in the evening at least. We have been absolutely plagued by eels! Occasionally they've managed to hook themselves, but mostly they just give you twitchy bites and shredded deadbaits. I did weigh one of the bigger ones, but at 1lb 15oz it was hardly a specimen. Rob deliberately caught an eel of 3lb 6oz on worms back in the summer, so I've no hope of winning the pint for largest eel at this rate. Anyway, I have no idea how to avoid the eels while the water is still warm enough to induce them to feed, except to fish more in the daytime. Unfortunately though, free daytime hours are at a premium!

Night-fishing for pike is probably underexploited. For Rob and me it's simply a practical way to maximise fishing time, so it's interesting to see what we might catch after any other pikers on the water have gone home for tea. That said, so far the only other pikers we've seen have been the occasional lure fisherman. When winter arrives properly I expect we'll see a few more.

Sea deadbaits have worked well for us, and we've tried lots: sardine, mackerel, herring, bluey, sprat, smelt, etc. To be honest I have confidence in any of them really. And in angling, confidence is key. Before I sat down to write this post I loaded the bait freezer with a freshly-delivered stack of deadbaits. Just in time too - the eels had nearly wiped us out!

I have one or two other angling projects planned for the coming months. Plus there is running. Yes, thats right. Running. And cycling of course. Birding? Well, there has been some birding, but not very much. And no, no Hawfinches. None at all.


  1. Hi Gavin,
    I know this is a little off the mark but do you ever catch eels on the pike gear or just experience the lightning fast takes as the slimy pests bite chunks out of your baits? Another question is do you use trebles, if so what size, or doubles (Drennan or VB's)?
    I'm only curious because I have now embarked on a project to catch pike during the hours of darkness and have had reasonable success, but have still managed to hook eels on doubles and trebles using whole sardines.
    My only real learning up to now is that the first hour after sunset seems to be the most productive time for pike. The bloody eels take baits whenever they like, day or night!
    Take care & tight lines - Dyl

    1. Hi Dylan, I've managed to catch at least half a dozen eels so far, as well as experiencing the jerky pulls as they savage the pike bait. Mostly I've been using a rig with one treble (size 6 Owner) plus a single (size 2 Drennan Super Specialist) as the upper hook. I think I'm right in saying that all the eels landed have been hooked on the single.

      Timing-wise, our experience so far suggests that any time after dark might produce a pike, and Rob has caught in the early hours when doing all-nighters. We haven't yet caught enough to establish much of a pattern regarding especially productive times though.

      How is it that eels can turn a nice, straight wire trace into a 'Slinky' in b about 5 seconds?! I bought some frozen eel sections from our bait supplier and will take great pleasure in catching a pike on one!

    2. Cheers for this Gav,
      I'm not too sure if feeding patterns on any water would be able to transfer to another venue, but I certainly have experienced the "early hours" pike bites when fishing the Fens during the mid-80's.
      Quite what will become of this recent challenge is completely unknown, it might just be a unique set of circumstances that I've been fortunate enough to tap in to?
      A treble and a large single - that takes me back!
      All the very best and good luck with your own efforts - tight lines - Dyl

    3. Sorry your comment took so long to appear Dyl. For some reason it was diverted to a folder awaiting moderation which I hardly ever check.