Pike, Esox lucious
This is a true story about a set of events that took place when I was ten years old which led to me being the proud owner of a pike for a few short months.
If at first you don't succeed
That's right, a pike for a pet. From a very early age I have been interested in fish, reptiles and amphibians. Like most children I would visit my local river to try and catch what ever I could. But from a very early age this was a genuine interest and not something simply to while away an afternoon.One day while inspecting the small gaps where the large concrete blocks joined to make the bank of my local canal looking for frogs with a friend we saw a small pike around 4 or 5 inches long. We tried to catch it using just our hands and stealth but we missed it by miles.
It wasn't the end though because even as a 10/11 year old I knew that pike were territorial and that it wouldn't have moved far and that it would be back. Sure enough that's what happened and a further several near misses later it was time to go home. But I was going to make some preparations and return.
Next day I took a wire coat hanger and stretched it to make a circle, this was tied very firmly to a bamboo cane from the garden and finally a pair of my mums tights with the legs chopped off and tied formed the net. I then met up with my friend and we returned to the spot where we last saw the pike. After just a few minutes we found it again and since it was my net it was my right to have first go at catching it. Once again the pike proved to be more than a match for me and I didn't even get close to it before it disappeared. Next it was my friends turn, so having left things to settle down for about thirty minutes we quietly set off in search of it again. Once again we found it but failed to catch it, but a pike was a real prize and worth what ever it took in order to catch it so giving up was not an option.
Third go of the day and my turn once again, but this time it was my friend who spotted it and claimed to be in the perfect position to use the net. I on the other hand still couldn't see it but I was still unwilling to give up my turn so a compromise was reached. I would hold the net and follow his instructions. This ploy seemed doomed to fail because even with the net in the water supposedly very near to the pike I still couldn't see it.
Forwards - s-l-o-w-l-y came the first instruction as I looked hard all around the local vicinity but still I couldn't see the pike. A few instructions later was followed by LIFT THE NET NOW, so with a quick lunge I did just that and as the net cleared the water I saw the pike for the first time during this attempt and it was in my net, we had caught it.
The pike was quickly transferred to a bucket where we could closely inspect it,
I quickly noticed it had a few Argulus on it as did most of the fish in the canal but these were simple to remove and those apart the pike appeared in very good health.
I then set off for home with my prize as I neared my house our entourage grew, all wanting to see the pike and argue about it " it is a pike" "that's not a pike" " it's to small" and so on.
I had a pond set up already which consisted of my sisters baby bath which she had just outgrown and which I quickly claimed for myself, dug a hole in the garden and sunk it in place, my first pond!!!
The pond already had some stone loach and sticklebacks in it but I didn't see a problem because they all lived together in the canal after all. Then after a week or so I noticed that my sticklebacks were very much down in numbers and I realised straight away why that was. So the rest were put in a bucket and released back in the canal where they had come from along with my stone loach and the pike would have to make do with worms and other insects from now on.
I spent many hours watching my pike, cleaning the pond and catching food items for it with no real incidents, then one day I brought some friends home from school to see it and a few days later the pike was missing!!!
I searched the vicinity in case it had jumped out but there was no trace of it, next I went to 'visit' my friends to see if they had somehow acquired a pike of their own - but if they had it was well hidden.
I only had it for a few months and even now I look back with fond memories about it, to this day I don't know what became of it, no one ever admitted taking it. It is possible that a more natural predator managed to get at it due to the lack of cover and shallow 'pond' Whatever it was, no trace of the pike was ever found.
Are you allowed to keep native fish?
Yes, there are no laws stopping anyone from keeping native species unless that species is one of the very few which is protected.
Obtaining the fish from the wild however is a little more problematic. Gone are the days when you could wander down to the local stream, replica rolex replica christian louboutin pond or canal with your little fishing net. In order to catch fish using a net you need the permission of the land owner and a licence from the environment agency (form FR2).
A much simpler way is to purchase the fish. Native fish are being sold legally in some larger aquarium stores and are far more likely to have less health problems with parasites ect than wild fish.
Remember - the majority of native fish grow quite big and it is illegal to just set them free once they out grow your tank.