Global warming certainly seems to be affecting our winter weather and although the conditions might be more agreeable for the angler, I am not sure that the fish will always see it that way.

As we don't seem to be having proper winters any more it is increasingly common to find our pike waters heavily weeded until well after Christmas. Although the weather might be changing, pike anglers still tend to see the start of October as the beginning of the pike season. Whilst the water temperatures have fallen sufficiently for piking in October to be perfectly safe, I have noticed a couple of other trends that are causing me to worry more about the safety of our pike in these weedy waters.

The first problem that I have noticed locally is anglers not scaling up their tackle sufficiently to deal with big pike in thick weed. Remember, pike will be fighting hard at this time of year and if a big fish decides to make a dash for the nearest weed bed then there is not a lot that you are going to be able to do about it.

Ten pound and even fifteen pound line might not be up to the job in these conditions. As long as the line is not going to come into contact with rocks and other abrasive surfaces then consider switching to a braided main line of 30lb strength, or alternatively step up to 19lb mono. With today's huge capacity reels this heavy line is easily accommodated. Traces also need to be up-rated and 30lb wire should be your standard as there is always some loss of strength when crimping or twisting.

The other problem that I have noticed recently is an absence of effective bite indication. Most of the pike anglers that I see now fish with ledgered deadbaits. Whatever the merits of this as a pike catching method, in today's weedier waters ledgered baits do pose some problems for effective bite indication. In particular, I have noticed that a pike can often move several feet before the drop-off indicates a run.

What appears to be happening is that the angler is fishing over submerged marginal weed that creates extra drag on the line. Rather than a taking pike registering at the rod end the run is masked by the weeded line. This is particularly apparent when the pike runs towards the angler. If the line has sunk into the weed then there is every chance that slack line runs will not be shown up at all.

Fortunately, the answer to this indication problem is quite simple. Rather than fishing a line straight to the ledger weight I use a pencil float to give an additional bite indicator, and also to bring the line away from the weed. If setting a float to the right depth in every swim is too much hassle then you can get the same effect using an inch diameter sunk float, stopped several feet up the line from the ledger. Whilst I like to have the early warning of takes by watching the float, even the most idle angler can set-up and forget about a sunk float, so there really is no excuse for poor bite indication.

The final problem that is worth bearing in mind is, when returning pike, be mindful to keep them away from weed beds. Often pike will dive straight into thick weed and often have a difficult time extricating themselves. This is exaggerated if the pike opens it's mouth and inhales a large amount of weed. In a bid to speed their recovery I have even seen pike with weed tangled through the gills. Much better is to make sure that the pike is well rested in a tube or landing net before returning it, well away from weed beds, so that it can sink back into the depths well away from any potential problems.

Pike fishing in our increasingly weedy waters is certainly creating additional problems for the pike and the pike angler. Remember though that pike welfare should be at the heart of everything you do and in the extreme it might be better to leave a fishery until later in the year. Treat them right and our fragile big pike will be their for everyone to enjoy right through the winter months.