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when is the best time to fish for pike in the uk?

Best Time of Year for Pike Fishing in the UK

Ask any pike angler, when is the best time of year for pike fishing? and you’d get a different answer every time. Largely most pike anglers have sound knowledge of when it’s safe to employ certain pike fishing methods, but for those who don’t – read on.

Pike fishing enthusiasts traditionally start their fishing season in October, which usually extends up to the end of the river fishing season in March. As the water temperature starts to cool down, it is considered safer to fish for pike during this period.

It’s important to note that in recent years, our seasons seem to be shifting, and it’s becoming more common to experience warm temperatures above 20°C well into October. This change means that the traditional start of the ‘pike season’ on 1st October may still be too warm for safe pike fishing, especially when using certain methods such as dead baiting. It’s essential to keep this in mind and adjust your fishing plans accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

when is the best time to fish for pike in the uk?
An example of how deep a pike can take a lure – even during winter!

But why do I see anglers catching pike out of these months we hear you cry? 

When it comes to catching pike, the approach to use and when to go is largely dependent on the angler and their individual preferences. Some may lure fish further into spring if air and water temperatures have remained low, whereas others will stop altogether and wait again for autumn to arrive.

For those interested in fishing for pike in the UK, it’s important to understand the different methods available and when they are most effective for successful and safe fishing. In this regard, we have broken down a few popular methods that can be employed for pike fishing, and we’ll explain our thoughts on when each method is best suited. 

Tip: When bait fishing for pike whether it’s using dead baits or live baits you should always wind down and strike immediately on the first indication that a pike has picked up your bait – it’s the golden rule!

when is the best time to fish for pike in the uk?
A lure-caught pike from a deep gravel pit during a cold, foggy day.

Lure fishing for pike

Anglers tend to use lures to catch pike throughout the year. However, during the warmest months of the year, they avoid fishing for pike due to the lower oxygen levels in the water. Pike are susceptible to low oxygen levels, which can lead to increased stress, reduced feeding activity, and even death. Using a lure to catch pike during these months can be detrimental to their health and survival. Therefore, it is important to avoid fishing for pike during the warmest months and to be mindful of their well-being when fishing for them in general.

If you happen to catch a pike during the summer, whether intentionally or by accident, it is crucial to allow the pike ample time to recover in your landing net. Releasing the pike before it has fully recuperated may result in it going ‘belly up’ in the middle of the river, which can be hazardous. Therefore, it is best to exercise patience and caution when handling pikes during the summer.

Autumn through mid-spring can be the best and safest times to catch pike fish on lures. Typically, the periods at the beginning and end of this window can offer the most exciting and exhilarating fishing experiences.

when is the best time to fish for pike in the uk?
Dead-baiting on a sunny winter day with low water temperatures can be great fun.

Dead baiting for pike

It is highly recommended to avoid dead baiting for pike during the warmer months. This is because pike tend to swallow the dead baits much faster than you can react, leading to deep-hooked pike and longer time out of the water than necessary. In case you are unlucky and happen to deep hook a pike, even during winter, removing the hook can be a challenging task, almost like performing open heart surgery, with the added danger of sharp teeth belonging to an unhappy pike being in close proximity to your hand.

It’s advisable to avoid using dead baits for pike fishing until winter, preferably after the first frost. This is because cooler water temperatures during winter would be more suitable for pike, and also because pike’s metabolism slows down during this time, making them less likely to chase prey. Consequently, they tend to look for an easier food source and what could be better than a dead fish resting on the river bed?

when is the best time to fish for pike in the uk?
A typical fenland drain pike.

Live baiting for pike 

When using live bait to catch pike, there’s a high possibility of deep hooking the fish, similar to dead baiting during summer. It’s crucial to pay close attention to avoid missing the right time to strike, as doing so can leave you with the difficult task of retrieving your rig from the pike’s throat.

It is possible to use certain hooking and fishing techniques when using live baits that can help to minimize the risk of deep hooking. By attaching a single hook through the bait fish’s lip and using a touch method, you can maintain constant contact with the line and quickly react to any take. While this method can prevent deep hooking, it is still important to consider the water temperature and how it may affect the welfare of the fish you plan to catch.

If you are planning to go pike fishing, it’s recommended to use live bait during the cooler months of autumn and winter. By positioning a live bait at the edge of a shoal of bait fish, you can entice the pike to see your bait as an easier meal. The struggling movements of the live bait will attract almost any hungry predator in the nearby vicinity, making it a highly effective method for catching pike.

To Conclude

It is hoped that the explanation provided above will be useful in determining the best time to fish for pike, selecting a safe approach, and taking into account the air and water temperatures before heading out. While only experience can truly enable one to make an informed decision on any particular day, adhering to the aforementioned guidelines will provide a solid foundation for success.

Finally, It’s worth mentioning that pike are known to spawn earlier in the year compared to other fish species that are native to the UK. This is an important point to keep in mind, especially when planning your pike fishing trips. It’s crucial to be aware of the spawning season and avoid disturbing any spawning pike. This will not only help maintain the ecological balance but also ensure a better fishing experience for you.

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Steve Evans
Steve Evans

Founder & Chief Editor of Predator Fishing World. Steve has been predator fishing for well over a decade and has amassed a deep knowledge base to share with you.