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River Pike

Author: Dilip Sarkar MBE

Publisher; Harper Fine Angling Books

Date; 2015

Rating ****


It has been a while since anything was written on pike angling in rivers. The focus today seems to be solely on weight, which means the big fish now seem to come from trout reservoirs where they are stocked with trout which the pike gorge on and grow very heavy, very quickly. However, there is still a breed of angler who regard river fishing as catching truly wild fish and where a twenty pounder is still the fish of a lifetime. You only have to look at the photographs to see that pike from rivers have their ideal body shape, lean, fast and mean rather than pot-bellied fish. Those of you who have visited River Reads will know we love pike having two cased ones in the shop – Fred Beller’s biggest of 32lbs which is photographed in his “Domesday Book” and Fred J Taylor’s 28lb 4oz pike from Tring pictured on the front of “Fishing Here and There” so we keenly awaited our copy to arrive.


The book is in the main written by Dilip Sarker who was a leading light in the pike angling club and now works for the Angling Trust. It starts by explaining how Dilip’s passion for pike fishing started, his love of the rivers Severn and Wye, and how his family have become just as enthusiastic as he is about pike fishing in rivers.


 However, with books that are a compilation of works including several other authors such as this, there is usually a problem with people writing with slightly differing objectives. This book does suffer from this. One wonders if the aim was to be biographical, a “Domesday Book of Mammoth River Pike” style of book, or a guide to pike fishing on differing rivers. Perhaps it should have aimed to cover all three in differing sections? It is not badly written, quite the contrary, but you do feel the author/publisher could have possibly made the brief issued to all the contributors tighter at the outset. It also is not intended to be a “How to” book, but it does mention techniques used in differing places in the text, and if they are worth saying, a quick diagram or description must be justified for those looking at embarking on this aspect of the sport. If the author doesn’t want to go down that route, then I don’t feel that techniques such as “ a sunken-float paternostered livebait using a double float rig” should be mentioned, although the instances are relatively few and do not really detract from the text.


The stories of the massive pike are well researched and written in many cases by the captor which heightens the excitement felt in the occasion, but also detailing the hours that they fished over the years, but also being honest about the element of luck – right time and the right place (although as one US president said, “the harder you work the luckier you get”).


There are one or two publishing flaws, a few typos and a section seems to missing from the section about Karen Sarker. However, this is a nicely produced book with excellent photographs written by an articulate author which is refreshing in modern times.


I read this whilst staying in a cottage on the River Wye, and it inspired me to try river piking one evening (it does say in the book it isn’t the best time but needs must) and I blanked, but this wasn’t helped by the three otters that didn’t see me and moved into my swim. Just remember that this is a wild river and nature is all around you and this is why the author loves the rivers, as I do.


To finish, any book that inspires you to go out and fish has got to be worth buying. Perhaps that is the best recommendation of all.


Keith Armishaw