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DVD – Deadbait Sessions

DVD – Deadbait Sessions

Despite the upsurge in lure fishing in recent years, Mick ‘The Duke’ Brown still enjoys deadbaiting. Join him on a series of sessions where he explains how he approaches this technique and catches some very nice pike along the way. Filmed mainly on his own, and sometimes with his wife Jan, Mick sees this as the only way to bring authentic fishing to you that is not set up for the camera.

Sold out, sometimes found on eBay.

DVD – Mid Winter Monsters

DVD – Mid Winter Monsters

mid-winter-monsters-frontFilmed with a basic camcorder, often under very difficult circumstances, and edited on standard software, this is a practical account of a winter season when a large number of BIG pike were captured, not only on rod and line, but also on Camera!

Producing my own pike fishing films is something I have wanted to do for years as I have never felt that the commercial films I have made for TV and DVD have really captured the essence of the way I really go about fishing for big pike. Catching for the camera to a deadline is very different to a big fish campaign on a hard water. This is the first, and I hope more will follow.
mid-winter-monsters-backThis film, which runs for just over an hour, is edited in a diary type format, and follows my progress through a recent winter in which I caught a dozen pike weighing over 20 lbs on deadbaits and livebaits. It’s not about methods and tackle, but the viewer should quickly pick up on and benefit from seeing things that are not normally shown. I see this DVD as the perfect companion to my books as I feel it brings the books to life when seeing some of my big pike catches as they actually happen, and is an ideal present for anyone interested in catching big pike.

Sold out, but sometimes found on eBay.

Book – Professional Pike Angler

by Mick Brown
Book – Professional Pike Angler

This, Mick’s second book, follows on from his first book and looks in detail at his unique lifestyle in which he became not only a professional pike angler, but also a popular television personality with his fishing buddy Matt Hayes.

It is not a technical book that deals with rigs and tactics, but delves deeper into a modern day pike angler’s thoughts and approach. The book is anecdotal in its nature, and within the stories Mick relates his feelings regarding pike behaviour. The book is not related to any tackle manufacturer but, out of necessity, refers to the many companies that Mick has worked with. Signed copies can be obtained through this web site. It’s very quick and simple to order via PayPal or you can use a credit/debit card. There is no extra charge for a signed copy.

Price £28.00

The book size is 246mm x 186mm (approx A4) with 260 pages, over 200 photographs and in full colour.

Go to the shop to buy now!

Leather Bound versions also available. Email mick37@talktalk.net for more info.

Want to browse before you buy? Then go to YouTube and see the book in detail, and a very big pike too!

Book – Pike Fishing: The Practice and the Passion

Book – Pike Fishing: The Practice and the Passion

prac3Mick’s first book, Pike Fishing: The Practice and the Passion (Crowood Press), published in 1993, has stood the test of time and is still in print today. Having sold over 16000 copies to date, it is believed to be the biggest selling pike fishing book of the modern age.

The book covers Mick’s earliest pike fishing captures and adventures from the days when he was driven by a passion to travel far and wide in search of big pike. It was written before Mick was commercially involved with major tackle manufacturers and the television shows with his buddy Matt Hayes, which all came about as a result of the effort put in during this period.

The book is written in monthly chapters which give a taste of how to approach pike fishing around the calendar. Tackle and communications today have made pike fishing a lot more instant, but the angler still needs the drive and discipline to be successful, and this book delves deep into the thoughts and ideas that brought Mick success both in this period and in theprac2 following years.

It is a book which reflects pike fishing as it was in those days. Tackle might have changed for the better, but the tactics which Mick employed then are still just as valid today.

The book is hardback, A4 size, and has 176 pages of black/white photos, diagrams and drawings along with 16 pages in full colour illustrating many of the big pike which brought Mick to the forefront of pike fishing over 20 years ago.

Sometimes found on eBay.

Pike still feeding

by Mick Brown 0 Comments
Pike still feeding

I’ve normally hung up my pike rods by now as I tend to give pike a rest when the water temperature starts to rise to a level where they fight to exhaustion and often struggle to recover. This spring has been unusually cold though so I’ve been putting in a few extra short sessions with lures and picking up plenty of fish. With the weather being forecast to turn much warmer, I went out to have a final fling with my lure rod and a spectacular session it turned out to be. Anything worked high in the water was hit hard by pike of all sizes up to mid doubles, and some of the fights were spectacular as they thrashed the water to foam.

Simple Vibrax spinners were very effective but the better fish took either Storm Saltwater Rattlin’ Chug Bugs (11cm size), Rapala X-Rap Sub Walk (15 cm size) or Storm WildEye Seeker Shads (15 cm size). The takes on the Chug Bug surface lures were absolutely heart stopping affairs. I just have to get my fix of pike lure action at this time of year and I wasn’t disappointed.

If you fancy lure fishing in the summer months, just ensure that the pike in your venue can handle being caught while water temperatures are high and oxygen levels are low. If in any doubt, I leave them alone until it gets colder, but pike in deeper venues or well oxygenated rivers often offer some great lure fishing sport. Have fun!

This article was written when Mick was working with the Rapala and Storm brands. Technical details may change so check out their websites for latest information. 

The good old mackerel tail

The good old mackerel tail

mack2My winter pike fishing usually kicks off in mid October, and deadbaiting will be very effective on my local pits, rivers and drains from then onwards. A favourite deadbait is a mackerel tail which is aerodynamic for casting and absolutely oozing with attractive oils and juices which draw pike from far and wide. It’s a tactic
I’ve used for over forty years and it is still as effective today as it ever was. My first 20 pounder on a mackerel tail came in 1975 from The Old Bedford River in the Fens and since then I have caught more than 50 twenty pounders with mackerel bait and also a 31 pounder.

It’s easy to use on a simple float rig or leger rig, and easy to pop up too.

More and more I am using mackerel tails for zander too, and have found them very effective on some waters, mack3but not all. Certainly on the Fen rivers and some local stillwaters they work very well and have produced several double figure fish for me.

You would be very unwise to ignore the mackerel tail as a pike and zander bait.

TIP: As the water gets colder, use a smaller piece of bait. You may be surprised how much difference it can make.

All of my rigs for using mackerel and other deadbaits can be found in the Fox publication – Mick Browns Guide to Pike and Predators. Obtainable from larger tackle shops or Ebay.

Too cold for pike?

Too cold for pike?

With temperatures now plummeting, and signs of even colder weather to come, is it getting too cold to make going pike fishing worthwhile?  I have asked myself this question many times in the last forty years, and now conclude that it’s simply a matter of limiting my expectations.  The fact is that pike do slow down in their feeding, and how much they need to feed depends upon how hungry they are.  In waters where pike are normally difficult to catch, it is often down to them having a very ample and easy to obtain food supply.  In contrast to this, where food is scarce, the pike are usually easy to catch.  In the former example, they will become even harder to catch when it gets cold, but in the latter example, they may well have to carry on feeding to survive.  In other words, you are more likely to get a result from a ‘hungry’ water than a hard water.  This might sound obvious, but I don’t think a lot of anglers see it this way by the fact that they often make poor choices of venue in cold weather.

toocold2Limiting your expectations will limit your frustrations.  After a lifetime of experience, I judge the potential of the day based upon the water temperature and the numbers of pike and preyfish in the venue.  When considering the water temperature, I also consider whether it is falling or rising, or for how long it has remained at its present temperature.  I would prefer the temperature to be rising in cold conditions, but even if it is very cold and has remained that way for some time, I will fish with a degree of confidence.  Taking everything into account, I make a judgement and assess the day’s potential based upon it. I am always honest with clients who come out with me on tuition courses, and give my opinion.  I might, for example, tell them it’s looking like a ‘one fish day’ today, or maybe I’ll suggest it will probably be a ‘three to five fish day’, and on waters I know well, I am usually not too far out.  I have just come in from a day on a very well stocked water. I suggested that current conditions would produce one or two fish to the four rods we were fishing. We landed two but had three dropped runs, typical for very cold water conditions on this venue.

Success will naturally depend upon the skill of the angler, and that can make a massive difference in cold water conditions when pike are lethargic.  This is when all the little tricks learnt over a lifetime pay off, and an experienced angler can often pull something out of the bag that would be almost impossible for a less experienced angler.

If catching fish is not your only reason for going pike fishing and you just enjoy going fishing, then I would suggest that you simply wrap up warm and go for it, for no other reason than Lady Luck often plays her hand and is impartial to the skill of the angler.  Who dares wins!

Pike fishing can be frustrating at the best of times, but especially in very cold weather.  If you can be warm and comfortable and have the right attitude of mind, you can still enjoy the day, and I always consider that fishing in tough conditions will make you a much better angler than fishing easy waters in good weather where you might have fun, but you will not advance yourself.  Whatever you do, consider your own safety and the welfare of the fish above all else!

Scent trails

Scent trails

First glance at the first picture in this article might just look like I’m standing in the water and stirring up the mud. Well that’s what I’m doing, but it can tell you something very important if you are fishing with deadbaits for pike or other predators. The fact is that that undercurrents, formed by wind and temperature variations, on any stillwater, will cause this effect, and it serves to spread the scent emanating from your deadbait around the surrounding water. The mud slick formed by me standing in the margin has spread several metres in just a minute or so. Imagine how far the scent trail from your deadbait could travel in a slightly longer period.

scent2With this in mind I always consider how the prevailing conditions are affecting my chances of success. Windy days tend to be better for deadbaiting as they set up stronger undercurrents. Venues with large variations in depth will warm and cool at different rates in different areas, and this sets up water movement as the temperature tries to equalise. There are other forces at work too, which are too complex to understand, but all we need to know is that this phenomena exists.

How does this affect my approach to deadbaiting for pike then? Well, direction of current is important. It may be going in a direction where there are no pike. That might be why you are not catching! It’s quite difficult to judge direction. For example, at the down wind end of a large body of water, the undercurrent is usually travelling away from the bank and into the wind after the force of water hits the bank and is pushed away by the relentless pressure. Such a situation could see the current moving parallel to the bank if it hits it at a slight angle. Then we have to consider very still days, when minimal undercurrents are forming. How often on such days do the pike never get to smell your bait.

On days when pike are searching for food,  you naturally have a better chance of them finding your deadbait.
They are not always hunting though, and feeding spells can be very infrequent, especially in colder conditions when their feeding spells are short sharp affairs. Pike that are well fed, or those digesting a recent meal, are also unlikely to be searching for food, so a good scent trail can be very beneficial at these times.

So, the point of this article is that I would advise that one should always be aware of scent trails when deadbaiting. I always consider the direction of the trail and it’s strength. You can often judge flow direction by making a cast with the bait set to mid water and see which way it travels. This would lead me to move my bait into different areas if I’m not catching, and to consider tactics that draw pike through a scent trail like groundbaiting and putting additives into my bait that offer a stronger scent than the baits natural properties. In these situations I’ll normally puncture baits or use half baits or sections. I’ll try to use really fresh baits dripping with body fluids like the half herring in the second picture. I’ll get my baits well popped up if the scent is being lost in a muddy or weedy bottom. There is so much more you can do that space forbids me to include which I’ll have to save for another time. Putting more thought into making use of scent trails and experimenting with my tactics has made my pike deadbait fishing far more interesting than a  ‘sit and wait’  approach, and definitely more productive.

Water temperature warning

Water temperature warning

It always worries me when anglers start fishing for pike on the Traditional October 1st starting date. The problem I foresee is with regard to the water temperature that we can expect at this time of year. This is particularly worrying after a very warm back end to the summer.On many waters in the UK, especially in lowland southern areas, I would expect the water temperature to be dangerously high at this time for reasons I will go on to explain. It’s hard to put precise figures to this, but I feel that a water temperature higher than 12/13 degrees Centigrade can raise issues that are detrimental to pike welfare if they are captured at this time. Pike tend to fight like crazy at such elevated temperatures, and cannot get enough oxygen through their gills to aid a safe recovery. This will be the case whatever method you are using, lure or bait, but I think bait fishing raises an even greater additional potential problem. At such water temperatures you can expect pike to bolt baits down extremely quickly, and no matter how good your bite indication and how quickly you react, you may not be able to strike in good time to prevent it.

water2I once spent an afternoon on a local stillwater. I had two runs on average sized baits, and both pike swallowed them out of sight, leaving both trebles in the stomach/throat. Only decades of experience, and the use of semi-barbed trebles, helped get me out of a nasty situation. I checked the water temperature, and wasn’t surprised that this had happened when I found it was 16.5 degrees C. Had I not checked with a very accurate aquarium thermometer, I would have sworn it felt cold enough for safe fishing.

I went again the next day just to see whether I could use tactics that eliminated this problem. After all, many other pike anglers will be out now and I felt the need to experiment and pass on my experience. I first checked the water temperature, and it had fallen half a degree overnight. Still too warm I think. I decided to rig with caution and opted for one size 4 semi barbed treble in the root of the tail instead of two size 6’s in tail and flank as the day before.

Once again, I had just two runs, and striking the first as quickly as I could, the bait was still swallowed almostwater3 out of sight. With the solitary treble lodged just outside the throat, it was a simple unhooking procedure, even though not satisfactory as I aim to hook in the scissors or near the front of the jaw. Nevertheless, a great improvement. Another run an hour later saw a similar situation, but with the treble pulling out of the tail of the bait during the fight and lodging in the scissors, while the bait was still in the throat entrance. I’d got away with it this time, but only just.

So, even after taking all precautions of good bite indication, with no delay and an immediate strike, I know I can still be faced with a tricky and dangerous (for the pike) unhooking problem when fishing at such elevated water temperature. I’m not desperate to catch pike, so I will now leave the deadbaiting alone until the water temperature drops a few more degrees. I can still fish with lures, although larger lures are best just now as smaller ones can be taken deeper at this time. I also need to take care when playing them and ensure they don’t exhaust themselves by prolonging the fight. I hope this practical experience will make you think about your own approach, not just now but at any time, and ensure you are tackle up safely and have all the tools ready to deal with any tricky situations.

Pike fly fishing retrieves

Pike fly fishing retrieves

When fly fishing for pike, I’ve noticed that the way the fly is retrieved can make a big difference to what you catch – or don’t catch! I’ve seen this in practice many times when fishing with other anglers. One often catches more than the other and, although there are other factors, retrieve style is often the only real difference in the approach. For this reason, I will vary my retrieve style until I find something that triggers them. As with fly fishing for any species, there are a few standard retrieve styles. Most pike fly anglers will ‘strip’ the fly by pulling back a certain length of line in a regular pattern, This can be varied by the length of line retrieved in each pull, the speed at which it is pulled back, and pauses of various times between each strip. Then you can use a ‘figure of eight’ style which is a gathering of the line between the thumb and fingers so as to give a constant line speed. Once again it pays to vary the line retrieve speed and make use of pauses during the retrieve. Then there is the ‘roly poly’ retrieve which is performed by holding the rod between ones legs while stripping at high speed with both hands.

There is a lot of variation in these retrieves, and I often mix them up to give a lot of variety to any fish that might be interested. One of my favourite retrieves which I never see others use, although I’m sure there are some that do so, is to make use of my rod tip to accelerate the fly so it really darts at high speed. It simply involves getting into a rhythm of an accelerating strip, followed by a line gathering strip. When making the accelerating strip, I pull line back with my retrieving hand whilst moving the rod tip vigorously to one side. This is quickly followed by a shorter strip that takes up the inevitable slack line. It’s a bit like using the hauling technique when casting to increase line speed except that you are doing so with the fly underwater. Again, you can vary this speed and the distance that the fly darts, and don’t forget those pauses.

Catching pike on the fly is usually not that difficult when they are active. When they are not, the challenge is to find out what is required to make them react, and this, to me, is the most rewarding fly fishing of all.

Braid or mono for pike?

Braid or mono for pike?

The question of whether to use braid or mono line for lure fishing was resolved for me a long time ago.

Without doubt, braid has proved itself to be the far better choice in most pike fishing situations.  Minimal stretch means better bite detection, and it’s low diameter relative to breaking strain makes it very user friendly. For me, one of the other important benefits I get from braid line is it’s reliability. Knots are easy to tie and very reliable, and the line itself takes a lot of abuse. Gone are the days when I’m pulling for breaks inbraid2 snags and loosing my valuable lures. For lure fishing, I will never go back.

So, what about bait fishing? It took me a bit longer to completely change over to braid, but nowadays I would
use nothing else unless forced to do so by fishery rules. For the same reasons as I choose braid for lure fishing, I do so for bait fishing. My biggest problem when bait fishing was that the lack of stretch made the playing process more fraught with the stiffer bait rods. I was afraid of hook pulls, and indeed did suffer a few. Before long though, I simply found that playing pike on braid line required a slightly modified technique that applied less pressure and keeping the rod higher to absorb any sudden lunges.

More benefits were found like the reliability in striking at long range, particularly when drifter float fishing or braid3long trotting baits down a river or flowing drain.And I keep coming back to reliability. When I have a bait caught in a snag or have to haul a pike from thick weed or from tree roots, I have every confidence that the line will not let me down. Power Pro has long been my choice of braid, and for bait fishing I use 15 kg breaking strain. In swims with serious snags you can go much stronger with little increase in diameter, but I would question whether it’s wise to fish such swims where snagging is so likely.

Braid is more expensive than mono but it will last so much longer than mono main line. With average use, I would expect to get at least five years use from my braid. If you are a penny pincher, you can reverse the braid after five years and get a few more from it. In the long run, it’s a choice I don’t think you will ever regret.

Pike Deadbaiting videos

Pike Deadbaiting videos

07e1cd7dca89a1678042477183b7ac3fHere’s s few links to YouTube films I made for Shimano and Dynamite Baits and others when I was predator fishing consultant for those companies. Although I may not still use some of the products nowadays, the comments are honest and genuine. Be sure to return to this page after viewing by clicking the back button.

My predator groundbait mix

A big pike caught while testing a new reel

Predator tips and tactics

Choosing a deadbaiting rod

Underwater pike footage

Suspended deadbaits

Legered deadbaits

The Kebab deadbait rig

Tackling weedy gravel pits