This section is from the book "Fishing: When, Where, And How To Fish Without Live Bait", by William Tweedie. Also available from Amazon: Fishing: When, Where And How To Fish Without Live Bait.
The Pike is a strong fish and may be called the wolf of the water. They sometimes grow to a great size and live a long time. There is a story told - apparently upon good authority, though we think there must be some exaggeration - that in 1497, a person caught, near Nannheim, a pike which was nineteen feet long, and which weighed three hundred and fifty pounds. His skeleton was preserved for a long time at Mannhei. He carried round his neck a ring of gilded brass, which had been attached to him by order of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, two hundred and sixty seven years before!
You may catch pike by trolling, which is the best way. A fine, fresh-caught roach put into sweet bran will soon get firm and stiff - that is the best bait. Do not brush the roach, because you will rub away the scales. As soon as the hook is thrown into the water, off goes the bran, and the fish sparkles and glitters, with his skin whole.
A long, double-headed hook, with a leaded shank, is thrust by a proper needle through the mouth of the fish along in the direction of the back-bone, and out at the tail, where it is tied with a piece of thread; the line, which should be fifty yards long, is made fast to the loop at the end of the hook-shank, and, with the help of a good stiff, shortish rod, ten feet long, the bait is thrown as far as you can from you ; it is then drawn through the water, and the pike will spring at it, just as a cat does at a mouse, seize it in its large jaws, and run off with it to its lurking-place, and in about ten minutes will have swallowed it; he is then fairly hooked, and you may "land" him if you can. If the bait is small, he will swallow it at the time he seizes it; then, if not very large, you may pull him out at once, which we have done on the instant of his seizing the bait
The boys in Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire snare pike in the small streams and large ditches and drains in those countries. A strong, stiff rod, ten feet long, is generally used, at the end of which is a piece of copper wire, 'previously burnt in hay to make it pliable. A noose in the wire is carefully slipped over the head of the pike as he basks in the water, a sudden jerk catches him, and he is pulled out by main force.