Carp Versus Pike: Why Catch Pike?

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The fact is, I fish for anything and everything. I’ve had amazing times and have lots of great memories from catching both carp and pike. Of course, they are very different in many ways, but both are fantastic fish that provide us lucky anglers with some brilliant sport. In this article, I try to explain how fishing for pike compares to the ever-popular, ever-growing trend that is carp fishing.

Winter sport

At the time of writing it’s early November, and we all know that the carp are starting to slow down. As the water temperature drops their metabolism grinds to a near halt. I keep reasonably large carp in the garden pond, and they consume very little through the colder months. Conversely, the pike in our lakes and rivers are still very active, and there is no better time of year to catch them.

If you’re a carp angler and you hang your rods up through winter, think again. Predator fishing can be exceptional through winter, and there’s nothing like going pike fishing on a crisp, frosty morning! Other species such as chub, perch, zander, trout and grayling are also great fish to target in the colder months but, if you’re a big fish hunter then the pike is the fish to target.

Incredible markings

One of the great things about fishing for carp is how individual they can be, fully scaled mirrors, leathers, linears and commons are all fantastic to look at and certainly adds to the appeal of targeting carp. However, there’s no doubt that the pike is an impressive looking creature. Initially, you can’t help but notice its fierce appearance, with its large eyes and savage-looking teeth. But, for me, what’s incredible is the intricate markings along its flanks. Quite remarkable, detailed patterns run the full length of the fish, making each one a unique specimen.

A lean, hard fighting pike taken on lures when the carp slowed down

A range of techniques to keep things interesting

There’s a lot of different ways to catch carp. Many anglers sit behind static rods which I feel is a bit of a shame. They can be caught on the deck, off the surface, stalked, on the float and even mid water on zigs but fishing for pike can be even more varied. You can choose from deadbaits on the deck, float fishing, wobbling, lure fishing, boat fishing and fly fishing.

Personally, I have found that fishing with deadbaits tends to pick up the larger fish and lure fishing, jigging and fly fishing provides slightly smaller fish. With that said, I think the latter options provide a more engaging experience that keeps you active all day long. Of course, there are many exceptions to the rule and sometimes you’ll get a nice surprise when one of the bigguns grabs your lure (and, of course, small pike will take deadbaits).

Cheap accessible fishing for everyone

Pike are also very accessible and can be caught in lakes, reservoirs, rivers and canals right across the UK and beyond, without spending much money. You can be sure that you’ll not have to travel far to find a stretch of canal or river that holds plenty of pike and the sport here can be some of the best you’ll find anywhere.

In comparison, you would be forgiven for thinking that the costs associated to catching big carp are out of control. Syndicate and day ticket prices on some carp fisheries are quite eye watering and constantly on the rise. Pike fishing can certainly give most anglers quick, easy, affordable fishing that’s probably not too far from their front doorstep, perfect for the opportunist angler that’s nipping out the house for a few hours to try and nick a bite from somewhere!  

The incredible markings on a nice, big gravel pit pike

Lure fishing – stay on the move!

One of my passions is lure fishing. I don’t fish for pike in the warmer months. There’s a common understanding that pike don’t like to be caught in hot conditions , making the warmer months perfect for targeting carp. As I said before, when the temperatures drop, it’s a great time to grab the lure rod and target pike.

It’s going to be cold, so keep on the move! This will help you to keep warm. My suggestion would be to move around lure angling for the pike, a fish that remains very active in cold conditions. Compare this to sitting still, freezing your bits off trying to land carp that are notoriously tricky to catch in winter.

A nice lure-caught pike

The strike!

It’s hard to beat the moment that a pike hits a lure hard, and completely out of the blue, with the rod in your hand. You just cannot replicate that when fishing for carp. The force of it hitting the lure transmits up through the braid, into the rod and makes your heart jump out of your chest! Carp fishing does have its moments, like the alarm sounding, or a floater grabbed off the surface but, for me, neither are quite the same as a predator smashing a lure! Trying out lure fishing has never been easier. I absolutely love fishing with soft plastics and some tackle manufacturers such as Korum even supply ‘Ready Shads’, already mounted on perfectly balanced jig heads. Just attach them to a wire trace and you’re ready to go!  

The tailwalk

The fight of a big carp can really get your heart pumping. You have the low twenty commons that are fit and strong and tear your swim to pieces. You have the heavy, deep-bodied mirrors that hug the bottom and plod around for what feels like ages.

The pike, in comparison, is a very agile fish. It relies on speed to capture its prey, and this can be seen during a fight with a decent pike. They can be explosive and quite acrobatic, often launching right out the water as they tail walk across the surface, shaking their heads and giving incredible sport on the right gear.

Getting started with lure fishing for pike is so easy with these Shads that come already mounted on Jig-Heads. Clip them on and you’re fishing!

Boat fishing

Pike fishing often allows me to fish from a boat, something I love doing. Whether it’s along the river system or out on one of our many huge reservoirs, getting afloat is still a real adventure and a completely different experience to bank fishing. While carp fishing can sometimes involve boats, generally it’s a pastime experienced from the bank.

Many anglers lack confidence in a boat, but if you follow the safety guidelines and always wear a life jacket then it will bring a whole new aspect to your fishing. It’s probably best to venture out with somebody that has a reasonable amount of experience initially. There’s quite a few places where you can hire boats along the river system and within the reservoirs. Gratham and Rutland are just two reservoirs where the predator fishing can be awesome. This is restricted to certain times of year, please check their websites for details.

There are so many different types of fishing, it’s one of the things I love about angling the most. I get a massive buzz from catching big carp, whether it’s a short stalking session or a more extended campaign. Equally, getting out of the house on a winters day in a hunt for a few pike can be fantastic sport. I’ve tried here to compare the two, but ultimately my advice would be to do both, mix it up! Personally, I consider the season and the conditions, then decide on what I should target.

Whether you fish for carp, pike or any other species I hope you get outdoors and catch a few fish. Be lucky and enjoy your fishing.

Out on the boat hunting for a big croc!