Monday, 12 January 2009

The Big Freeze

More than a month without a blog entry - says it all really doesn't it? Sub-zero temperatures have gripped the country for almost all of that time and the pike have been SO hard to catch even in the deep water. That's not all mind, the flu bug took it's toll on me, then there were the Christmas and New Year festivities to get over as well so we haven't been fishing much.

Joe and I have been out a few times but only had a few low doubles for our trouble, Joe getting the biggest at 16lbs 7oz on a deadbait. The surface temperature of the big lake has been dropping steadily, 6.5 degrees one week, 6 degrees the next and just 5 degrees a week later with ice forming in the sheltered areas. Meanwhile the conditions have been very still with only a gentle breeze and often, bright sunshine for most of the day. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind the sun but it's been very noticeable that the fish have all come very late in the day when the sun was low in the sky or even absent from it. We stayed out until well after dark one evening to see if they were coming on the feed at night - they didn't!

The few runs we've had have all had something else in common too - they were all in deep water. Not a single bait has been picked up in less than forty feet and some were quite a bit deeper than that. So what's been going on?

When times are good I can usually find the pike using the echo sounder. They show up as nice big arches, usually a foot or two off the bottom and usually, they are close to shoals of bait fish. Find a big shoal of bait fish and there's almost bound to be a pike or two nearby. Just lately though the bait fish have been absent. Those shoals that I have found have been small and tight and always in deep water and it's been a rare event to pick up an obvious pike on the sounder. I suspect the prey fish have been away somewhere very deep and in a big lake where most of the water is very deep, that presents a headache in terms of location. It also means that the pike are going to have a lot more water to hide in, difficult water to fish too since anchoring up over 100ft or more presents its own problems.

Things have changed this week though. We had a stormy weekend with strong southerly winds and a big rise in temperature to over ten degrees. There's been a lot of rain too and this combination is certain to have had an effect. The water is unlikely to have warmed up very much but as it would have been very close to 4 degrees by the time the winds came, there's just a chance that the lake will have turned over, bringing the deep layers to the surface.

The prey fish are the key, I'm sure of that, and if the change in conditions has moved the prey fish, it will have moved the pike. Let's see how I get on next time out.

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