GIANT Pike Attacks Dog - a dramatic headline occasionally seen in the press, but is it true Having spent many hours with this perfectly formed predator, I would say its possible.
Pike have changed little since prehistoric times and their only natural enemies are other pike.
All large pike are females, males seldom reaching more than 7kg. During the breeding season in March and April, some males are actually preyed on by their larger female partners. And anglers use small jack pike as bait for the very large specimens that can reach over 18kg in weight.
An 18kg pike is a fearsome predator, capable of swallowing prey up to half its own weight. I have no evidence that they have actually eaten dogs, but attacks have happened, probably because the pike has been confused by poor viz.
Pike are acutely sensitive to vibration, as would be caused by dogs wading in shallows and muddying the water. The pike would home in on the source of the vibration at terrific speed, so it is no surprise to me that dogs are occasionally bitten. Pike hunt a range of creatures. I heard about a brood of 14 ducklings, a dozen of which were taken singly over several days by a very large pike in a local gravel pit.
I have spent 20 years and several hundred hours watching and photographing pike. Far from being the ferocious beast of fishing tales, I have found them shy, and rarely aggressive. I have been attacked only when I have cornered them among dense vegetation or inside a wrecked car, a favourite place from which to ambush a shoal of roach.
Like most creatures, they do not attack without warning. They have a ritual that involves inflating their gills to make the head appear very large before snapping their jaws quickly. Ignore these warnings and the pike can strike fast. I have had my mask knocked off twice, though luckily by small jacks of around 2kg. A large pike can be dangerous if its warnings are ignored and I always move away when they behave in this way. Pike can be found in British rivers and lakes, like the two major inland dive centres of Stoney Cove and Gildenburgh. Photographing them is best on a sunny summer day, when 100ASA film can be used without flash in the shallows where they await their prey.
Some appear fearless and allow cameras very close, others move off immediately. As with all fish photography, it is a case of studying your subject and moving slowly to build up a degree of tolerance to your intrusion.