It is not my intention here to go through all the examples of mythical pike. Though these stories are slightly amusing I am not too impressed with them simply because they devalue the well documented examples which though not as big as the mythical pike are no less impressive for all this.

At the end of this article, the reader will find two lists, one is the top fifty pike of England, Wales and Scotland. The other also includes Ireland and runs to over 100 entries. From looking at these lists readers will be aware that 40lb pike are huge fish and very rare. Since records were kept there have been 28 recorded pike over 40lb, 23 of which have been well documented. Only 5 pike over 45lb have been recorded and 3 of these were well documented. Beyond the present record of 46-13 by Roy Lewis from Llandegfedd reservoir there is only the 47-11 Morgan pike from Loch Lomond of which there is still no photographic evidence. The discovery of a picture of this fish would make accepting this specimen much easier. A 50lb pike was found dead at the Warren fishery in Essex, but a large proportion of its bulk was due to retained spawn. This may in turn have absorbed water and resulted in an inflated weight. Regardless of this it was a very big pike just the same! It is clear then that factual examples of healthy pike caught on rod and line are non existent beyond 47lb. What then of Ireland? For the list that includes Ireland I have been a little less strict with the entries. I have allowed entries such as the 68lb Llangorse pike and the 65-00 Lower Lough Erne specimen into the list though there is little chance now of ever finding any worthwhile corroboration. There are quite a few others such as Garvin's 53 pounder which I am quite happy to accept though there is some suggestion that it might have been fetched from the water while trying to dispatch a large salmon. To be honest anything from 50 to 100 years ago is difficult to confirm, though this does not mean that fish from this era were not caught at the weights claimed. Today many of the waters which have produced huge pike have been destroyed by the fisheries people, in Ireland in the name of brown trout fishing. Lough Conn has been netted for a long time and recently this dastardly work has started again on Corrib and Mask. Readers will note that there were quite a few pike in the 38 to 42lb range caught from waters such as Mask in recent years. This is because the netting stopped in 1983, allowing these huge pike to survive. British, Dutch and German anglers were quick to realise that the big pike were back and some were lucky enough to strike before the gill nets returned and destroyed these magnificent fish.

In Ireland the powers that be think that every Irish Lough is capable of producing 40lb pike. Sadly this is not the case with only the trout waters having any real track record. You will not see many new additions to this list now the nets are back.

Looking at both lists it is clear that pike can get to 40lb in this country though not very often. 50lb pike, though a possibility, are so rare I would not set your stall out to catch one, unless you think you are going to reach 110 years of age! Information from abroad suggest that some of the deep unproductive lakes of countries such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland can produce 50lb plus pike. Unfortunately there have been quite a few fake giant pike from these areas, but these do not discredit the few fish which have been authenticated.

What then does it take to produce a 40lb pike? I will assume that a 45lb and a 50lb pike needs the same as a forty, but perhaps a little longer and the good luck to evade capture. Well, most important is a good food supply. To grow fast at at least 4lb a year, a pike needs lots of food. It also needs to have a high ratio of success from each attempt to catch food. A pike can only do this if the prey fish are not being harassed by other predators, including other pike. The food fish also need to be of a good size range. When a pike is ten pounds it needs lots of 4oz to 8oz prey. When it is twenty pounds, 1lb prey are probably quite useful. When it gets to 40lb, lots of 2lb prey fish are just the job. A water which has all these will see the pike grow fast. An average of 4lb a year will see a 40lb pike in ten years and on some of our trout waters where there are few pike this is probably quite easily managed. The biggest problem a big pike faces is simply surviving. On waters where there are few pike or where the spawning areas are of limited size, pike sometimes become spawnbound. When this happens they often die in May or June.

On the River Thurne the pike population constantly suffers from mortality due to a killer algae called Prymnesium parva. When this algae dies it liberates a toxin. Pike are poor at sensing the toxin and moving away. Other fish such as roach, rudd and bream are much better at detecting the toxin and escape. This means there is plenty of prey fish, but not many pike. Ideal circumstances for big pike. Another favourable situation is where lots of food fish are stocked into a water. Our heavily stocked small carp waters make ideal places for pike to grow big, though the owners of such waters do not want pike in them! Most of our 'put and take' trout waters produce big pike, but only the exceptional ones produce 40lb plus pike. Just once in a while you will get a water where there are one or two big ones and hundreds of jacks. Again it is possible for a very big pike to turn up.

It is important not to get too carried away with really big pike because few will ever have the chance to catch one over 40lb. I was very lucky indeed. Pike of 30lb are still huge, a 20 pounder is not an easy fish to catch. It does no harm to dream and we all do it from time to time. Wherever you fish, you never know what might be just around the corner!



TOP FIFTY PIKE

47-11

T.Morgan.

Loch Lomond. July. 1945*
46-13

R.Lewis.

Llandegfedd. Oct. 1992
46-00

C.F.Gifford.

Chillington Pool. June. 1822
45-15

D.Willingham.

Barnes Fishery. Feb. 1998
45-06 G.Edwards. Llandegfedd. March. 1990 A
44-14 M.Linton. Ardleigh. Jan. 1987
44-08 C.Garret. Llandegfedd. Oct. 1988 D
44-00 S.Gilham. Llandegfedd. Oct. 1988 E
43-02
P.Wright.
Castle Howard. 1988
43-02 B.Ingrams Llandegfedd. Oct. 1988 E
42-05 P.Climo Llandegfedd. Oct. 1988 D
42-02 D.Amies. River Thurne. Aug. 1985 B
42-00 J.Nudd. Wroxham Broad. 1901*
41-12 J.Costello. West Country Water. Jan. 1994
41-08 D.Amies. Thurne system. Feb. 1983 ****
41-06 N.Fickling. River Thurne. Feb. 1985 B
41-04 J.Mills. River Thurne. Jan. 1994
41-00 C.Bailey. Bluebell Lakes. Feb. 1995
40-12 N.Williams. Bluebell Lakes. Feb. 1996
40-08 T.Simpson. Bough Beech. Dec. 1991 C
40-06 M.Hopwood. Kent water. Nov. 1979
40-04 E.Raison. Rookery Lake. Feb. 1994
40-04 K.Vogel. Loch Ken. 1972
40-02 S.Marshall. Bough Beech. Dec. 1991 C
40-00 M.Cook. Llandegfedd. Oct. 1996 No photo.
40-00 P. Hancock. Horsey Mere. Feb. 1967
40-00 J.Young. River Don. 1866*
39-12 D.Leary. Lyng. December. 1985
39-12 R.Berg. Kent Lake. March. 1994
39-08 T.Fox. Bough Beech. December. 1998
39-08 R.Miller. Lyng. December. 1989
39-08 B.Summerhayes. Warren. November. 1993
39-08 N.Williams. Bough Beech. March. 1992
39-07 G.F.Parrott. Dorset Stour. March. 1909
39-06 A.Evans. Berkshire G.P. February. 1992
39-04 L.Tyler. Broadlands. December. 1985
39-04 R.Raymond. Ardleigh. August. 1991
39-04 E Spall. Martham S.Broad. 1950s
39-00 T.Hazlewood. Suffolk Lake. March. 1993
39-00 C.Loveland. Knipton. February. 1967
38-10 D.Haylett. Pisces Fishery. November. 1998
38-10 J.Briggs. Ardleigh. February. 1995
38-08 J.Gardner. Sussex Lake. February. 1995
38-08 N.Thurogood. Bluebell Lakes. 1993
38-08 E.Harrison. Castle Howard. 1990
38-07 R.Callan. Castle Howard. September. 1993
38-06 J.Findley. Loch Awe. February. 1997
38-05 M.Morris. Berkshire Pit. February. 1992
38-05 S.Webber. Hants Avon. December. 1992
.
A same fish. B same fish. C same fish.
D same fish. E same fish.
*Fish marked thus have been recorded though there were no photos. The date of capture may have made photographs impractical. My reference for all such fish is Fred Bullers Domesday Book of Mammoth Pike**** No witness to fish and poor photos. No record is kept of pike caught by means other than rod and line.

TOP 50 pike BRITISH ISLES INC IRELAND

68-00 Llangorse lake. O.Owen. Nov 1846 *
65-00 Lower Lough Erne. F.Johnston. April 1880*
55-00 Lough Gur. J.Landrigan. 1909*
53-00 Lough O'Grady. Constable Quinn. 1881*
53-00 Lough Key. Constable O'Connor. April 1900*
53-00 ough Conn. John Garvin. July 1920*
52-00 ough Macnean. Thomas Kenny. July 1989*
47-11 Loch Lomond. Tommy Morgan. July 1945*
46-13 Llandegfedd. Roy Lewis. Oct. 1992
46-00 Chillington Pool. C.F. Gifford. June.1822*
45-15 Barnes Water. D.Willingham. Feb. 1997
45-08 Lough Conn. Bernard Browne. April 1917*
45-06 Llandegfedd. Gareth Edwards. March 1990
45-00 Loch Leane. P.Cruise. 1956*
44-14 Ardleigh. M.Linton. Jan 1987
44-08 Llandegfedd. C.Garret. Oct.1988
44-00 Llandegfedd. S.Gilham. Oct 1988
44-00 Lough Carra. John Walsh. July 1938*
43-02 Castle Howard. P.Wright. 1988
43-02 Llandegfedd. Brian Ingrams. Oct 1988
43-00 Lowfield Lake. J.J.Doyle. 1910*
43-00 Lough Conn. C.Driscoll. Mar 1954**
42-08 Lough Mask. W.Carney. July 1932*
42-05 Llandegfedd. P.Climo. Oct 1988
42-02 River Thurne. Derek Amies. Aug 1985
42-00 Lough Mask. Ottmar Aurin. April 1996
42-00 Lough Mask. Bert Rozemeyer. May 1995
42-00 Wroxham Broad. J.Nudd. 1901*
42-00 Lough Corrib. G.Lyons. Mar 1918*
42-00 Ballyvarey R. J.Devaney. Apr 1936*
42-00 Loughrea. M.Coyne. Aug 1936*
42-00 Lough Conn. J.Garvin. Mar.1944*
42-00 River Barrow. Mervyn Watkins Apr 1964*
41-12 West Country Lke. John Costello. Jan 1994
41-12 Lough Nacrilly. Robert Cardwell. Apr.1963*
41-08 Lough Rodgers. P.J. Mannion. June 1922*
41-08 Lough Sheelin. Joe Allen. Oct 1946**
41-08 Lough Ree. Jack McNally. Sept 1951*
41-08 Thurne System. Derek Amies. Aug 1985
41-06 River Thurne. Neville Fickling. Feb 1985
41-04 River Thurne. Jeff Mills. Feb 1986
41-00 Birchmere. M.Espin. Jan 1994
41-00 River Suck. Alan Underhill. May 1980
41-00 Bluebell Lakes. C.Bailey. Feb. 1995
41-00 Lough Muckno. Patrick Hand. Jun 1945**
41-00 Lough Ennell. Paddy O'Toole. Jun 1962**
40-12 Bluebell Lakes. Nige Williams. Feb 1996
40-08 Bough Beech. Trev.Simpson. Dec.1991
40-06 Kent Water. Mick Hopwood. Nov 1979
40-04 Rookery Lake. E.Raison. Feb.1994
40-04 Loch Ken. Kurt Vogel. 1972
40-02 Bough Beech. Simon Marshall. Dec 1991
40-00 Horsey Mere. Peter Hancock. Feb 1967
40-00 River Don. J.Young. 1866*
40-00 Lough Derg. The Olive. Apr 1877*
40-00 Carrick on Shann. William Shanney. 1896*
40-00 Lough Derg. John Cannon. Apr 1909*
40-00 Lough Ervey. Mr Lynch. Jun 1938*
40-00 Lough Conn. Mr.Clarke. Jun 1936*
40-00 Lough Erne. J.H.Thompson. 1922*
39-12 Lyng. Dan Leary. Dec 1985
39-12 Birchmere. L.Berg. Mar 1994
39-12 Lough Gur. James McMahon. Dec 1898*
39-11 Eatons Lake. Guy Cabout. Jun 1996
39-08 Lyng. Roger Miller. Dec 1989
39-08 Warren. B.Summerhayes. Mar 1992
39-08 Bough Beech. Tony Fox. Dec 1998
39-08 Bough Beech. Nige Williams. Mar 1992
39-07 Dorset Stour. G.F.Parrott. Mar 1909**
39-06 Berkshire G.P. A.Evans. Feb 1992
39-04 Broadlands. Laurie Tyler. Dec 1985
39-04 Ardleigh. R.Raymond. Aug 1991
39-03 Lough Key. Micheal Egan. Mar 1993***
39-00 Lough Mask. Sir P. Manson. Sep 1913**
39-00 Suffolk Lake. T.Hazelwood. Mar 1993
39-00 Knipton. Clive Loveland. Feb 1967
39-00 Lough Mask. Paddy Walsh. Jul 1949**
39-00 Glaslough. Chris Cairns.
39-00 Lough Mask. John Sutton. 1963**
38-12 Lough Ennell. Mick Leonard. Jun 1957**
38-12 Lough Mask. Eric Edwards. Feb 1996
38-10 Ardleigh. J.Briggs. Feb. 1995
38-10 Pisces Fishery. D.Haylett. Nov. 1998
38-09 Glaslough. J.Doyle. Dec 1991
38-08 Ardleigh. J.Gardner. Feb 1995
38-08 Bluebell. N.Thurogood. 1993
38-08 Castle Howard. E.Harrison. 1990
38-08 Lough Mask. Neville Fickling. May 1994
38-08 Lough Mask. Mr. Connor. Oct 1901*
38-08 Lough Ennell. M. O'Malley. Jun 1948**
38-08 Lough Ramor. W.Oulton. Sep 1950**
38-07 Castle Howard. R.Callan. Sep



 
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