Fishing Large loughs/river systems in Ireland from boats is something i like to be at come autumn and the first good frost. I tend to pack away the trolling/lure gear until spring.
One of my favourite methods is dead baiting from the boat with static and drifted baits in search of old esox. First of all is you have a good safe boat plus a good working engine, last thing you want is the boat or engine letting you down as usually you are the only one that will be on the water with the other fair weather boaters all moored up for winter months plus know your limits when taking your boat out in windy conditions.
Always keep a good eye on weather sites as weather isn’t always on our sides come winter piking, Always wear a life jacket that is well serviced they are a must for any sort of boating over the years. There’s been more local guys that have sadly lost their lives on the Erne system and if they had life jackets on they would be still with us so always wear them!
As for boat equipment, you’ll need a good set of anchors with plenty of rope/chain for holding my 14ft aluminium boat in place. I use a 8kg plough type for front anchor and a 8kg danworth type anchor for back with about 8ft of chain on both with 120ft of rope I never have a problem with anchoring with this set up , Been blown off your fishing spot its the last thing you want it is wasting fishing time by having to re anchor.
Other boat essentials are all the unhooking gear, good forceps, hook/bolt cutters, unhooking mat, weigh sling, pike tube a lot of companies are doing a weigh sling/retainer which are great job for resting fish and does away with pike tube when boating, scales and a decent landing net all this gear on board means the pike welfare is your priority and they will go back the way you caught them.
Essential unhooking tools every pike angler should have.
If your unsure about handling them get a day out with someone with experience or join a local club there is always someone to give a helping hand to show you how to handle and unhook the right way that the fish goes back unharmed. Don’t be afraid to ask as we all had to start off somewhere.
A nice pike being returned
Now for what rods i use for boat fishing they are wychwood agitator 10ft 3lb test curve boat rods they are reasonable priced and are a great rod with plenty of power for hard fighting pike. I have them teamed up with shimano 8000 gte baitrunners with 50lb power pro braid as for floats i use the eddie turner hi viz floats size 12 these floats are really visible and strong. I have used a lot of floats over the years and these are the best. I have found teamed up with a run ring for your 1 or 2oz leads as shown in diagram below which is a handy float ledgering set up that works well from boat. I usually fish it slightly over depth that you get good quick bite indication with a good strong wire trace on.
The float ledger setup I use from the boat
I also use a drifter float if winds are in my favour you can cover a lot of water with this method and can be deadly on the day getting fish that your static baits cant reach or high feeding pike as for bait choice its really up to you find out what works well on your water but fresh mackerel, herring, roach or pollan are all very good baits that pike cant resist when on the feed.
Now lets get into the fishing side of things to locate the pike best approach with this is using a fish finder looking for likely holding areas such as drop offs into deep water, marginal shelves , weed beds, old streams beds, plateaus and plenty of bait fish starting to shoal up for winter months as water temperatures start to drop these fish start to gather and pike wont be far away for a easy meal. So i tend to anchor up on the likely areas i have stated above and you should hopefully you should come across some fish always put a bit of time in on the spots as there could be different feeding times on them as i have seen over the years.
A nicely marked drifter float caught pike
A few seasons ago when autumn lure fishing i had went over a spot a few times it was a sunken plateaus/island came up to about 15ft in middle and dropped off to 50ft plus on the one side and 20ft drop off in the other. I kept saying to myself must try it out come the colder temperatures as there was always bait fish hanging about it. So the first day we decided to try it we were struggling on the lures and i had went past it and said to Mano who i usually fish with when hes allowed out Ha Ha! (Thats a different story will get back to fishing Lol) we’ll give this spot a try. I have always had my eye on it so with getting the boat into position and anchored up, all rods were in water with float legered baits getting a good soaking. And it was time for a fresh brew and then Mano aka jack bashers float moved off, the bait was a popped up pollan with nice run on the bait runner so he wound down and struck into a good fish with plenty of deep diving runs the fish was putting up a great battle but the first time it popped up i had her in the net. I seen the back on her and said to Mano you’ve a p.b there so we got her unhooked and his other float took off, the bait was a Kilkeel hern (Herring) so i rested the fish in the net while Mano was playing the other fish that was giving a better battle than the first one.
Mano with a new pb pike at 21lb
Up she came at side of boat and was a another nice lump. I had no net as other fish was resting in it so i chinned this one got her unhooked and weighed she put scales round to 20lb 03oz after quick pictures we had her back resting in the water and a big kick from her tail giving us a good soaking. Away she went so it was time to weigh the other fish which were well rested in the net. I got her in the sling zeroed scales she put them round to 21lbs bang on the nose. A new personal best and fine brace off 20lbers to the boat for a lad thats p.b was a mid double what a way to beat your p.b with a brace off them.
The second half of Mano’s brace at 20.03
He ended up with a few more fish too low doubles all i could get were a few jacks that day but what made it worse i had to look at his big silly smile rest of day. I took some stick too but i was more than happy for the lad to see him beat his p.b with a cracking brace. I have fished this spot many times after and have had some great fish off it to over 25lbs by fishing the right location and using the fish finder and getting the boat anchored up over likely features, hope this comes in handy to any one starting out get yourself out fishing and enjoy!!!
Nice big hen at 25.02 on a float ledgered pollan popped up.