Best places for pike are clear to see

Chris BishopWEST & THE FENS: We're running out of slack, with barely a month of the traditional season remaining. That's a month's pike fishing left as well for the majority, who target them between October and March.Chris Bishop

We're running out of slack, with barely a month of the traditional season remaining.

That's a month's pike fishing left as well for the majority, who target them between October and March.

So unless it looks like the retreat from Stalingrad come the weekend, a lot of people will be steeling themselves for the worst of the weather.

Gravel pits have stuttered on and off the last week or so, with fish feeding for brief periods at Pentney. Having caught more in the last couple of weeks than the two months leading up to Christmas, it's a shame things took so long to pick up.

A couple of cold nights can see all the optimism come to nothing when waters freeze. It's always worth having a drive about, because a sheltered bank, an infall stream or spring can sometimes make just enough difference to keep an area clear.

However daft if looks, it's surprising how often that clear spot produces a fish - if you can't see the bottom, it's probably worth dropping a bait into.

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Rivers have been a real struggle for most of this season. I always remember the old books, with their primitive diagrams showing where pike lie up in times of flood.

Our rivers might be flow-controlled and banked to prevent them flooding the land, but the fish still need a respite when it's the colour of tea and hurtling through.

Many swims on the Ouse have a near bank slack in the form of the thick beds of Norfolk reed that fringe the river, where both prey and predators can shelter.

If the lower river's a bit too daunting, try the free stretch at Ely which offers a couple of miles of reasonably accessible river if you don't mind other anglers, dog walkers, rowers and ferocious ducks.