Predator Hunting Across The Pond
- By: Robert S Tomes
Over the past decade, fly-fishing for northern pike has gained a solid footing with North American anglers looking for a new fix. Lured by the prospect of a visual—and often violent—take and a good fight, fly-fishing for pike is consistently fun and mostly lacks the pretentious attitude that trout and salmon fishing sometimes encourage.
It should come as no surprise that chasing pike with flies has taken hold in Europe, too. Known by different names depending on the language, pike fly-fishing is now an accepted and growing sport in countries as diverse as France, Denmark, Holland, The Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Just last year, an international pike fly-fishing tournament was held in Finland and included teams from Canada, England, Holland and Finland (Finland won).
Eager to check out this Euro-pike action, last fall I visited my friend and UK pike expert Simon Brough. Like many of his fly-fishing brethren in the states, Brough is a confirmed predator addict, forsaking salmonids for pike wherever he can find them. A longtime Derbyshire guide now working for Bakewell Fly Fishing (www.pikeshack.co.uk), his passion for Esox is so extreme he recently made the long trip overseas to northern Wisconsin, where he succeeded in catching his first muskie on the fly. By the end of his trip he’d tallied 11. Not surprisingly, he’s not alone in the pike craze—lots of Euro fly fishers are passing on chalkstreams and salmon rivers and, instead, casting big flies on freshwater lakes.
Our late-season UK pike hunt took us north of London to one of several large reservoirs in the Lakes Region that serve as a major water source for the city as well as a recreational resource for walkers, bikers, birders and fishermen. Known collectively as Anglian Waters, some of these lakes are now producing pike in astonishingly good numbers and in excess of 30 pounds. Armed with 10-weight rods, intermediate and sink-tip lines, and Simon’s deadly streamers, we covered water using a small boat to access classic pike ambush points, such as weedbreaks, points and shoreline structure. We didn’t set any records for our efforts, but the fishing was about as good as any I’ve experienced in the states, with several dozen good pike caught and released. Many of them ranged between 30 and 40 inches.
Adventurous fly fishers hoping to take advantage of the UK’s great pike fishery can learn more by visiting www.anglianwater.co.uk/leisure/what-to-do/fishing/.... For more about predator fishing around the world, check out this digital publication dedicated exclusively to the Esox species: www.esoxworld.com ■