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Are those large pikes taking only softbaits?

Are those large pikes taking only softbaits?
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I’ve caught my biggest pike in September 2001, on Wetter lake in Sweden. The fish was 123cm long and took jointed crankbait – Whitefish 13DR. It took from between reeds on 1.5 metre water. Fight was long and dramatic as we weren’t using the right tackle at the time. At the time my usual pike tackle consisted of Dragon Millenium Pike rod, which was 2.7 metres long, and spinning reel. 0.18mm braid was not capable of stopping the fish once it got an idea of mowing half of hectare of reeds! This pike was very strong and not willing to give up for half an hour! Probably if I’d been using usual “jerk” tackle all the fun would have lasted no more than 3 to 4 minutes. Nevertheless it was an adventure to remember!

Of course soon after, the question appeared – what is the chance for breaking such a magnificent record? Obviously it wouldn’t be easy. I was interested in specimen size pikes for many years and well aware of the fact that there is plenty of pikes up to 120cm being caught in Europe every year. But larger ones are from a very rare kind. It was later confirmed by the best pike anglers I spoke to, and by results of our expeditions to the best pike spots in Sweden, Holland but also in USA and Canada. There was always hope, as in every civilized country Catch and Release is getting more and more popular every year. Large pikes were being caught even few times every year, but they were still ok and getting larger. But one thing I would never expect was that it would be possible to break my Personal Best in Poland. What’s more, that it wouldn’t be only for me but also for my two friends!

I’ve heard a couple of times about this lake in North – Western Poland from my friends. It was always being described as very difficult to fish and very sensitive to weather conditions. But there used to be, especially late autumn, days when over metre long pikes were being caught, and not incidentally. So we accepted the invitation and on the 12th of November two boat crews started their journey across the half of Poland, with the best hopes for good adventure.

We started fishing on November 13th. We were mostly trolling, obviously using Salmo lures exclusively. The anglers we met on the water where very skeptic about their results, though few fish over 90cm that were caught would surely raise some eyebrows on any other water in Poland. We also had a few good ones, and the largest one – 103cm was caught on Salmo Perch 14SDR RHP by my friend, Radek. I managed to pick one, very beautiful fish around metre long from very deep, 10 metres hole on our Salmo Skinner 20cm GT crankbait, with added 100g weight. Grzegorz caught similar fish on Salmo Pike 16F, so we were rather happy with our results, but only till the evening when we saw a photo of

fish of about 120cm,

taken this day by one of other anglers on very large softbait. Fish was very beautiful, a large female. Congratulations gathered a small group of anglers, all of them rather certain that it would be extremely difficult to catch such a large pike on crankbait, as usually they take large, heavy weight softbaits, trolled of course. It was easy to see that all of them were using that type of lures – on each rod hang huge softbait with extra added heavy lead weight. For Salmo team it was obvious like someone threw down the gauntlet to us. I wasn’t having any doubts that we have proper lures in our offer to do the job, and that they won’t perform any worse when trolled than any softbait. But things needed to be proved by our own hands to convince “infidels”, even though task seemed to be extremely difficult – to catch even a larger pike. Next day welcomed us with changed weather – there was some nice breeze and couple of showers from time to time. There was not many takes, but each one of them deserved hours of waiting. While testing our Giant Chubby on a drop from 3 to 8 metres I caught the smallest fish of our trip – just below 90 cm. The take was vertical below our boat, from classic drop, proving that you don’t need to have soft bait while fishing in such manner. Meantime, Radek caught another fish just below metre long on Salmo Perch 14 SDR LRH. We decided to check some new places, and we armed our rods with Pike 16 and Whitefish 18 crankbaits. Both of them dive to similar depth of 5 to 6 metres without adding any extra weights. After about an hour or so, Grzegorz had excellent strike and he made 100% of it by hooking the fish. From the start we could see that fish is from the uppershelf. But only till fish appeared close to our boat we dropped our jaws in disbelief. It was a real specimen!! I managed to grab fish by its gill cover and to land this beautiful female. Grzegorz went bananas – he was completely crazy as it was his new Personal Best. Previous one came from the same lake in Sweden as mine and was 115 cm long. This monster pike top our scales with 126 cm and is in excellent condition – fat and beautiful. After short photo session fish was returned to water and swam away in excellent condition. We continued trolling for about an hour but after that decided to return to base. On our way back we meet our second crew, and one of them, Ewaryst was just fighting with next monster. Shortly after he landed pike of 116cm, which felt on Salmo Perch 14F RHP, and we joined to congratulations for landing his new Personal Best. Another salmo lure proved its worthiness. Both crews returned to base to get some rest and celebrate our catches with a sip or two of Whiskey.

Next day

started with excellent sunny weather. Would fish be taking? We launched our boats with new hope. On both rods we have our lucky Salmo Pike 16F PE. Around midday I had a take while trolling 6-7 metres deep water. Instantly I knew that I hooked a monster! Fish was very calm, I could feel as it shook its head, and they were so powerful that almost brought me on my knees! One thing was certain – I have never had such a thing on my rod! Fish allowed me to bring it calmly to boat, and as it surfaced I almost sat in shock! It’s even bigger than I thought! I started to be afraid ‘bout my heart at this stage. Water was cold, our Lowrance fishfinder showed 7 degrees, so the fish wasn’t really taming with energy. But it managed to get few dozen metres of my 45lb braid at least couple of times. I’ve never seen such thing done by any pike before. But this fish was really big! Next time fish came to the boat I decided to land it with my hands, this fish was too majestic to hurt it with a grip. I was lucky, as the treble hooks were well hidden in its monstrous mouths. Radek helped me to get up from my knees. Fish was in the boat! We were sure that I just landed my long dreamed new PB! But exact measurement took our breath away – fish was 130cm long. We took couple of photos and “supermum” was returned to water. I held her tail and for a few moments fish remained calm. But few second later it started to tear itself loose. Obviously she still had a lot of energy left, but it seemed that she was a Lady and did not interrupted us during a photo session. But then it was different. She finally burst with such energy that I was unable to hold her longer and swam away. My happiness was complete!

There weren’t more takes his day but surprisingly we were not really upset with it! Not only we managed to land few extraordinary specimen size pikes. For me it was equally important, that we proved to those few “infidels” that you can catch such monstrous fish with crankbaits as well as with softbaits. I hope that few of them will give a chance Salmo’s Perch and Pike next time! Just try our large cranks when trolling – Perch 14F, Pike 16F Whitefish 18F – those models are excellent when you fish water 5 to 7 metres deep. If you need to get deeper I strongly recommend deep running versions – Perch 14SDR and Whitefish 18SDR. Those models are dedicated to depths of 7 to 10 metres. Of course each one of them and any with smaller lip can be brought with extra weights (the best around 80cm in front of lure) to any required depth! There is a wide range of possibilities offered with them. I think that I’ve done my job, now it’s Your turn!

And just beside the main topic, next day we proved that using proper Catch and Release techniques makes a lot of sense. By comparing photos my friends discovered that “my” fish was caught exactly two weeks before by some other angler! His measurement showed 128cm. Was someone mistaken in measurements? Is it possible that fish of this size grew 2 cm in two weeks? I think that we will never know for sure. I asked for advice experienced trophy hunters. It seems that studies done on large pikes behind our western border (Rugen area) proved that such fish are not grannies! Usually their age is not exceeding 8 years. So it is easy to imagine how rapidly they must be growing in their best time of year. There is of course some possibility that someone made mistake when measuring fish. My fish was measured by Radek. I am not sure if it’s going to convince you, but it never happened before that he added even a half of centimeter to my fish! The best way to check accuracy of this measurement is to catch this fish again. I assure you that it is possible, just remember to release it again!

Piotr Piskorski


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