Monday, 7 October 2019 @ 21:00
October is traditionally the time of the year when predator fishing starts in earnest. Cosgrove Park has a full compliment of predators in its waters with pike and perch in the lakes as well as chub in both rivers and just a short walk away in the Grand Union Canal are zander!
Until the weather gets really cold in a few months time lure fishing is one of the most active and effective methods of catching particularly pike and perch. Lure fishing has gained popularity in the last few years with a few new methods coming over from America such as drop-shotting and ultra light lures but for this months blog I'm sticking to what I would call basic lure fishing with plugs, spinners, spoons and soft plastics.
A selection of lures that I use including a solid Rapala Shad Rap plug, a Rapala medium diving jointed plug, an copper Abu Atom spoon, an gold Ondex spinner and a Berkley soft plastic perch pattern Shad
Depending on species sort and the size and weight of the lures that I cast dictates the type of tackle that I use. For pike fishing (and zander fishing in big waters) I use my trusty 10' Fox predator spin rod that casts up to 60 grams. I team this rod up with medium sized Abu Cardinal C5 reel that I've had for 30 odd years loaded with 20lb braid. There is no real reason why you shouldn't use 10 to 15lb monofilament main line but the properties of braid such as the minimal stretch and thin diameter for its strength make the extra expense of the line worthwhile.
My trusty 10' Fox spinning rod and Cardinal fixed spool loaded with 20lb braid
When I'm spinning for perch, chub and canal zander I use a short 6' 6" Berkley Gorilla Stik rod with a little Shimano fixed spool reel loaded with 14lb Fireline braid. On both these outfits I use a 12" 20 - 30lb wire trace with a swivel on the rod end and a snap link on the lure end. Wire is only really needed for pike but even when spinning for perch and chub that don't not have teeth there is always a chance of a pike that can bite straight through a nylon trace!
Keep any additional kit down to a minimum so that you are mobile and can cover as many swims as possible. You will need a landing net, small unhooking mat and most important of all some good quality unhooking tools such as strong forceps, long nosed pliers and wire cutters. You do not need the very outdated and unnecessary pike gags!
Types of Lures
There are more types, sizes and colours of lures available than in almost any other form of fishing. Lures, particularly plugs or what the Americans call 'Crank Baits' can be very expensive costing well in excess of £10 each and by the nature of lure fishing for predators they do like to inhabit pretty snaggy areas so pick your lures wisely!
For me there are just four basic types that I use - Plugs, but this includes single piece and jointed, floating, sinking, deep divers, shallow divers and everything in between. On the Park waters because of their clarity I particularly like using jointed plugs that have more action but in more sombre natural perch, roach or pike colour patterns. I like to use brightly coloured lures when the water is more coloured such as the canal.
A selection of my plugs mostly used for pike fishing - note the large diving vanes on the deep divers
Martin Flynn with a stunning plug (crankbait) caught Cosgrove pike
Spoons that are pretty cheap to buy, that are shinny either in chrome or copper finish that cast like a dream, that wobble invitingly back through the water on a straight retrieve and catch me loads of pike including some good doubles. I prefer to use pretty big spoons for pike as I've found they catch me more fish than smaller ones although having said that I did catch a 17lb 8oz pike a few years ago from the GU canal on a slim 3" Toby lure!
A selection of my favourite 'spoons'
Bladed 'Spinners' that I'm sure almost every angler has used at some time are cheap and particularly effective for perch and smaller 'Jack' pike, although I've caught some nice pike on the larger 'Ondex' spinners!
A selection of my favourite 'spinners' including the larger Ondex and the smaller Mepps Aglia - note on the right is a very old school Colorado spinner
Soft plastic lures are fairly new to the UK coming over from America and becoming popular in the last 10 years! I first used soft plastics for black bass in Canada in the early 90's and brought loads home with me including several 'creature baits' that I will never ever use, however particularly the so-called 'Shad' patterns with there 'hammer tails' are very effective for pike, perch and zander. They are cheap to buy and as they are mounted on a weighted single hook 'jig head' they can be fished in pretty snaggy swims.
A selection of soft plastics including an 8" trout pattern swim bait, crayfish and other weird and wonderful creature baits - however the 3 'shad' patterns in the centre of the picture are very effective
Other Interesting Lures
I also have an interesting selection of lures that include 'surface poppers' and the strange shape 'spinnerbaits'. I do use from these lures from time to time particularly when the swims are very weedy and the water is still warm enough for the pike to rise to the surface and hit a surface lure or 'popper'. I have to say that this style of lure can be very effective. My favourite is an Arbogast Jitterbug that plops its way across the surface - some say imitating a frog but when the pike rise up and hit these lures they explode on the surface and the rod rips round! For me the 'take' on a surface lures is awesome from even small pike.
Several of the pictures I took for this blog were taken during a 1 hour lunch break session on 2nd October 19 where I was using a surface popping 'Jitterbug' over heavy weed in Tench and Pike Lakes. I took two beautifully marked pike that hit the lures with amazing speed and ferocity!
A selection of 'poppers' and 'spinnerbaits' including a favourite yellow surface 'Jitterbug'
A stunningly marked surface 'Jitterbug' caught pike
Fishing Your Lures
Each and every lure has its own action and depth that it can be fished. I have my personal favourites but for me the first priority is to decide at what depth I want to fish my lures at depending on depth of swim and any weed etc. At this time of the year I would ideally I want to retrieve my lure just above the bottom and make my lure selection to fish at this depth whether it be over a clean bottom in a 15' deep swim or over heavy weed in a 4' deep swim! Once I've decided on the type of lure I'm going to try I will retrieve the lure according to its action - that may be a straight retrieve if the lure has a good action or a 'walk the dog' type retrieve that is a sharp downward pull followed by a pause or a sink and draw retrieve that is similar but much slower or a combination of all my favourite retrieves. Generally the cooler the water the slower the retrieve and closer to the bottom the lure needs to be fished.
Once I've chosen my swim I will cast my lure around in a fan pattern that is to say I start with a retrieve close into my margin then work my way around the swim covering it all back to the other margin. Depending whether I have any action by way of a take or a follow depends how much time I spend varying the depths etc. I may even try a different lure and cast back in the fan pattern for a second or third time!
The final piece of advice is not to pull the lure out to quickly, I've had so many particularly pike hit the lure just as I'm about to lift off. Do they follow the lure in or are they laying under your feet all along - who knows but I've taken so many good pike from the end of my rod.
This then is just a short introduction to the world of lure fishing that at this time of year can be deadly effective for all species of predators!
Tight lines - Gary S