Lee Swords Fishing

Just another WordPress site


River Pike

Looking through my archive of old articles in search of something fitting to add, I found this, it is about fishing for river pike and is circa 2009, I think it fits perfectly and ties in nicely with my other recent pike article.

This winter has been pretty bloody dismal, whereas last winter I achieved pretty much what I wanted to, this season I can barely muster a bite, excepting a session I had on the Great Ouse when I mustered 30 bites and landed 30 fish…all Crayfish! Oh, that isn’t quite right…30 crayfish and one very small perch of about 4oz!

Crayfish from Great Ouse

The only saving grace has been the Pike, ok they haven’t been very big but they have been obliging and I haven’t blanked…Which has been pretty much the only thing that has stopped me from flogging all may gear and trading the cash in on clay pigeon lessons and a nice shooter. I don’t really fish for big pike, by that I mean I don’t specifically target big pike waters…You see I like all pike, so if I can find a water that is stuffed to the brim with pike to 10lb with a few that sneak over that. then I am a happy bunny indeed!

“And for me there is no better way of targeting the pike in these types of fisheries than with lures!


A lot of magazine articles tend to portray lure fishing as a summer pastime. This has always been at odds with my views on the subject as I have always enjoyed lure fishing for river pike in winter and to make things worse, I will admit that  my favourite conditions for targeting river pike during winter is during a moderate flood (Which is totally at odds with much written information in regards to the subject)

Lee Swords with a nice little river pike“What I like about lure fishing is the speed at which the angler can be ready. In November, December and early January my full-time job as a chef means that I am at work for 70 hours a week and need to be able to utilise whatever time off I can get hold of…fast!

So, lets cut to the chase, here is a talk through one of my better days fishing for river pike on lures this winter but to be honest they have all been pretty good as I haven’t blanked when out for pike!

Lee Swords

Like I said I don’t get a lot of time off work but it was during one of these rare days off that I found myself getting a call from one of my old school mates Daniel Stewart-Smith telling me about some great pike sport he was having on a tiny Midlands river,  I did not need asking twice.  Before you could say abracadabra we were pulling his van into a frost covered field and stepping out onto a frigid bank side that was more “ Arctic” than an ice-cream filled Swiss roll! With nothing more than three rods and two small tackle bags between us! I have to be honest I felt naked.

My usual 50kg bag of everything was left at home….And I felt like an adulterous husband out on an afternoons jolly with a slinky model whilst the frumpy fat wife was left in the shed with nothing to do but watch the spiders build their webs.

I soon got over it and discovered the new slinkier version that was slung over my arm was both built for speed and comfort…The “Bella (Large Korum Ruckbag ) Emberg” sized bag  is a great piece of kit but it looks like it may have some competition from the “Katie (Korum Rover) Fey” bag when speed is of the essence!

katie fey


Dan like me loves his lures and lure fishing and like me has a lovely collection of old favourites. Dan’s collection tended to be weighted towards the spoons, spinners and bar type lures where as mine is mostly made up of small and large Rapala lures and of course the fantastic Calcutta soft lures especially shads and those squiggle tail jobs. So between us we had most bases covered

But Dan had another arrow in his quiver so to speak….Flies! No not bluebottles from some long spilled maggots but large marabou fishing flies tied on salmon hooks! This promised to be interesting; the third rod was indeed a fly rod!!

We walked over to the river (Which, if I am honest I half expected to be frozen over) and set off upriver for about two miles checking out the swims and mentally plotting our casts then once we were as far up as we thought we needed to be to give us three hours good fishing, we began to fish our way back down to the van.

Lee Swords lure fishing

 ”My tackle consisted of a short Lure rod (A salmon lure rod which I find very enjoyable to use) and a Shimano reel loaded with 50Lb Calcutta braid which is a dark green braid that I find to be awesome…I have had a couple of really bad experiences with braid in the past which put me off the stuff but my faith has now been restored.

river pike



As a starting gambit I chose a small 5cm Shad in a black pearl colouration as this pattern is absolutely fantastic where there are lots of small silvers being preyed upon, be they small roach, dace, chub or bleak. My first cast was like an arrow and flew true and straight….Into an overhanging bush on the far bank. D’oh! The good thing with single hook shads is that they don’t snag up as easily as lures with multiple treble hooks involved and with a simple flick of the wrist the lure plopped into the water less than a foot from the far bank…Perfect cast! Bringing the lure back with little flicks of the rod tip gave it life and on the second cast a huge perch came up from a weed bed and nailed the lure good and proper but I fluffed the strike and didn’t manage to set the hook. I was as sick as a parrot, that had been one hell of a big perch! Several more casts were made towards the dark patch that was the weed bed and before I could get myself too downbeat a small jack pike of maybe 2lb’s literally flew out of the water and nailed the shad biting it almost in half!

small pike big belly

“Dan was now fishing in the next peg down and soon his black Marabou lure was soon being inspected by a pike of maybe 7 or 8lb…Fantastic! Dan’s method was to cast his fly in an arc, covering his entire swim then do the same again with his Ondex spinner, giving him two bites of the same cherry.

Within a couple of hours we had bagged six pike each ranging in size from just over a pound to just over 8lb…None of them massive but extremely good fun nonetheless. Dan had however done something I had not…He had caught three fish on the Fly

Lee swords with a pike


I asked if I could have a go and lo and behold on my very first cast a small river pike flies up out of the depths and follows me in, The increased visibility I was getting from my Calcutta Polaroid’s making the whole experience even more heart in the mouth…I put the fly out again and as the fish came up to inspect I gave the line one hell of a yank causing the lure to accelerate away forcing the pike to “choose” rather than “inspect”….Bang…Wrong choice!

lee swords with a flay caught pike

 ”A 2lb jack was tail walking with Dan’s “Bet Lynch” lure jammed in its scissors, the fly rod was doing what all fly rods do and trying to bend itself to the butt and the fly line was doing its best to trip me up and have me in the water…What fun!!!

In no time at all the fish was landed, unhooked and put back to hopefully live long and prosper when at some point I hope to catch it again and test it out once more! (A Fishing mindset our Eastern European “guests” would do well adopting.

river pike on small lure in winter

(Also the reason I will not be naming any more exact swims or areas in print either in the papers or on Internet)

That was the last of the fish that day…13 fish on artificials!! 4 on fly, 3 on Ondex spinners, 4 on Calcutta shads and 2 on Rapala glass lures and at no point in the day did the mercury in my thermometer go above zero!

So who says that you cannot catch Pike on lures in winter?

“The observant amongst you may notice that I wore several hats during the day, there are several reasons, “1″ it got rather cold so the cap gave way to the beany and “2″ I lost a lot of pictures when my last hard drive failed. always back up your pictures!!

2 Responses to “River Pike”

  1. [...] River Pike [...]

  2. Remember reading that article in the angling star, still enjoyable to read a second time

Leave a Reply