Marina Gibson BlogESOX Scotland Article: Edition 80, April 2021

20 January 2022

It has always been important for me, since I’ve turned fishing into a lifelong career, to have what I call a ‘hobby fish’ and one of them is pike (Esox Lucius). My hobby fish are species that I don’t guide, but it’s mainly because I like to separate certain fishing trips and days from work.

I caught my first pike at Chew Valley Lake in 2015. Chew is a renowned pike venue and is well known for producing monster apex predators. Their record currently weighs in at 44lb 6oz, caught by Mike Green on the fly. Anglers can use various methods; fly, lure and dead bait. If you visit Chew and have no idea where to start, why not book a day with their resident professional guide, John Horsey, who is an accomplished angler and attracts fishermen from all over the world. Who knows, you could even be in for a chance to catch your personal best, or even a UK record.

Tom Harvey, my childhood friend, invited me on his annual Chew trip with his friends. I was utterly shocked when I landed my first pike. It fell to a roach pattern I had bought from the Orvis London store a few days before, on a quest to be well equipped – all the gear and no idea!

Since that day I’ve caught numerous pike and equally lost the same, or even more. In recent years so much so they have become my nemesis fish. After losing 2 fish over 20lbs (I know, what a rookie), I made it my winter mission to overcome the fear of losing MORE fish and my sanity.

At the end of 2020 I spent 21 days fishing the Baltic coastline in the north of Germany. Each day we set out and deployed over the rugged flats, in search of toothy critters. Depending on which country you find yourself dictates whether you measure your pike in weight or length; in this case we were searching for the magic metre beasty.

Fishing for any freshwater species in an archipelago water system is unique in itself. When the wind is pushing in from the Arctic you can expect brutally cold conditions, salty water and a jellyfish on every step. When the temperature plummeted in the last half of our stay, there were days that were unbearably cold, especially when we were not catching fish – a fish can totally change your mood – even in the most uncomfortable conditions.

Over the past 20 years or so, Rugen has become a household name amongst fly anglers looking to target large pike on the fly. But what makes this place particularly special? Well the answer is as complex as it is simple. Looking at photos, the fishery looks monotonous – structural features in the landscape are non-existent and the skies are mostly grey.

Two major things align in this particular place. Brackish water pike follow the herring migration, as a high-fat food resource, along the coastlines and inherit a unique blue-iridescent colouration during their stay in the water with higher saline levels. At the same time, the shallow bays of the archipelago render thousands of acres accessible to the wading angler, until they reach the deeper, man-made fairway that presents the perfect structure where larger pike migrate along. Long-story short: record-size, migratory, pelagic pike swim into the channels where a wading angler gets the chance to intercept them, potentially with a fly rod.

Let’s just say I got my mojo back and caught more pike than I lost! I even bagged my PB. Photos for proof! This was a huge milestone for me and I wanted to write about this so others know that if you’re feeling down and think that you cannot overcome what you see as a failure, then you’re wrong. Just put a touch of effort in and you’ll be rewarded with glory.

What I love about the 50/50 initiative is that it aims to break down the barriers and encourages more women to take part. Growing female participation is so important in a male dominated sport and makes for a diverse and inclusive community.

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