Top Lure Picks for Early Season Pike

by Justin Hoffman (c) 2001

With spring finally upon us, thoughts of hefty pike in shallow water dance through anglers heads. Fresh from the spawn, pike will be found in specific locations and can be caught with a variety of lures. At this time of year, the fishing can be fast and furious, and Mr. Pike is more than willing to entertain you with a game of tug-of-war. Jump-start your fishing season by tangling with the mighty "water wolf", and be prepared for some of the best fishing you can imagine.

Locations

Pike spawn in shallow weedy back bays shortly after ice-out. Bays and shorelines found on the north side of the lake will be the first to warm up, and will be the most attractive to the cruising pike. Once the spawn is complete, the majority of the fish will linger in these back bays for some time, gorging on the available bait fish and awaiting a warming trend to occur in the main lake area.

Searching the shallow bays on your favourite lake will be the key to finding post-spawn pike. Make sure the area you are concentrating on has a variety of cover - be it weeds, logs or stumps - and is between the depths of two and six feet. Finding an area like this has pike written all over it, although your next step will be deciding what to feed them.

Spinnerbaits

One of the most productive and easiest baits to fish for spring pike is the spinnerbait. It represents an easy meal, has a bulky profile in the water and gives off flash and vibration that rings the dinner bell loudly for these opportunistic feeders.

My personal preference early in the season is for a spinerbait sporting a large willow-leaf blade, a sturdy wire body that will stand up to the abuse a pike can dish out and a fur or nylon skirt that undulates nicely in the water. Couple this up with a needle-sharp sturdy hook and you have the perfect setup for the mighty pike.

Bright colours seem to be the best route early in the season with chartreuse, red and white getting the nod for most applications. Depending on water conditions, it is best to experiment with natural and unnatural colours until you hit a winning pattern.

Topwaters

Nothing can compare to the visual thrill and heart-pounding excitement of taking a pike on a topwater plug. Post spawn fish are more than willing to grab an easy meal off the surface, and the shallow water locations make this tactic extremely productive.

Their are a number of topwater baits on the market that are suited to early pike and have worked well for me over the years. The buzzbait is a top choice due to the large silhouette it provides and the surface commotion it exhibits. Fish this bait with a steady retrieve and be prepared to hold on tight. A stinger hook may be necessary for those fish that strike short or blow up on the bait.

Another key lure is the Zara Spook. The lazy side-to-side motion is intoxicating to both aggressive and neutral fish, and many of the pike you encounter will hunt down this bait as if it truly is alive. Choose the larger version spook and make sure you fish the lure with a wire leader in order to save it from the jaws of this predator.

earlypike1.jpg (2564 bytes)
Xara Spook

Spoons

Spoons have become a staple among early season pike anglers and for good reason - they catch fish. A spoon exhibits the movements of a bait fish precisely, and the positive vibrations and body characteristics make it a good choice.

Proven spoon picks are the Red Devel, Five of Diamonds and many of the Williams line of baits. Experiment with different weights, and thickness of bodies, in order to establish those that have the most desirable motion and action in the water, and which the pike show a preference too.

A trick to keep in mind for fish that follow yet refuse to hit, is to suddenly stop the spoon in mid-reel and let it flutter slowly downward. This tactic will entice the majority of "hot" pike to strike, and has proven itself repeatedly while out on the water.

Head to your favourite pike lake this spring and have a tussle with the mighty "water wolf." The fishing will be fast and exciting and the eagerness of the pike to strike will have you returning year after year.

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