WRITTEN BY: ADAM ZACHARIAS
Spring is coming, which means prime pike fishing. Pike are hard to beat as a sport fish, they are aggressive, abundant, and can grow to an impressive size. They are affectionately known by a huge variety of nicknames, including water wolves, gators, slough sharks, snot rockets, slimers, jackfish, and of course hammer handles. Whatever you choose to call them, there is no denying that they can provide some great entertainment.
As we roll into spring, the opportunity to catch a trophy is at its best. Pike have spawned and are now in a feeding frenzy in warm, shallow waters. Shore fishers and boaters alike can catch these big females if they pick the right spot and of course throw the right lures. To help you out, here are 3 lures to throw at different stages of spring that are sure to get you bit.
The earliest part of spring, when the ice has just finished melting and open water is first accessible, is also the hardest time in spring to entice a pike bite. They are either just finished or just at the tail end of spawning, and are not looking to work for a meal. Many people will use whole dead baits such as perch, sucker, or other prey fish, sitting still near the bottom. You can achieve the same result without the mess by choosing the right plastic.
To this end, the Wounded Rattler Shad from Nextgen Baits is a solid choice. This hyper-realistic looking plastic can be purchased to match over 20 different prey species. When hooked with no additional weights, this plastic will flutter down slowly, simulating a dead or dying fish. Where it gains the advantage over an actual dead fish is with the subtle, distressed style of rattle built right into the belly. This means that you can give it small twitches of your rod tip which will not only attract attention visually, but audibly as well.
Fish this lure in earliest spring, in water 1-3’ deep while the pike are finishing spawning. The combination of distressed rattle and slow flutter action of a dead fish, in addition to a huge 7” size will make this appear as an easy meal which the already stressed out pike won’t have to work for. A sure way to entice that early bite. As a bonus to complete the whole package, smear on some Liquid Mayhem Pike attractant, and the fish won’t know the difference between plastic and actual dead bait!
As the pike finish spawning they move into slightly deeper water and recover from the effort of laying eggs. During this transitional time you will find them beginning to feed more regularly but not yet the aggressive bite they are known for. They will be basking in sunlit, warm waters and watching for easy meals. This is a short period of only maybe a few days that gives way quickly to the more aggressive feeding period where they recover energy for summer. You will have the best luck with a lure that can perform double duty as a more subtle or flashy presentation, as needed for the individual pike you happen to be on top of.
Enter the Gill Raker, from Strike Pro. This jointed swimbait has a tight action and realistic coloring. It is sinking, so when you need to slow it down and present a more subtle, dying fish approach you can let it flutter to the bottom. When you need to speed it up you can retrieve at varying speeds to to activate the jointed, side to side swimming action.
Throw this lure in early to mid spring when the pike are following the warming band of water away from their spawning areas. Typically 2-5’ over fresh greenery, or the bottom end of a creek dump in. Mix up your retrieve speeds and include pauses and twitches until you find the exact presentation that the pike are looking for at that time. Then sit back and reel them in the rest of the day.
Mid Spring and On
The sun is shining, the water has warmed up, the pike have spawned, and the race is now on to replenish their energy. This is the part of spring where the pike fishing can be at its best, if you can distinguish your lure from the clouds of baitfish that the predators are already gobbling up. Pike right now are eating everything and anything, following the school of perch, minnows, smelt, cisco, or whatever prey fish are in your waters. The challenge now is not getting bit, but getting bit consistently by standing out from the typical baitfish.
It’s time to go big, and go flashy, and you just know that means a spoon! Spoons are my favorite type of lures for pike in general, but in mid to late spring when you need that extra flash, you can’t go wrong with the 5” Freedom Tackle Minnow. This uniquely rigged spoon has a wire and bead through the middle creating extra banging noise on the retrieve, in addition to the fluttering, flashy, attention grabbing action on the retrieve.
Look for weed beds on a downward slope, creek channels, or drop offs at the 3-8’ depths where aggressive pike will be cruising around looking for an ambush. Cast the Minnow past your target and retrieve it at a medium or fast speed with a few extra twitches or pauses as you cross the location you expect a strike. You will rarely be disappointed. Choose a color such as this Silver Shad, or the Pearl or Chartreuse Glow to get maximum flash and bring on the ambush strikes!
Do you love pike fishing? Don’t take my word for it, get an awesome variety of lures to try out for yourself with the RLM Elite Pike box from Simple Fishing.