by Keith Sarasin (c) 2001
|Some of the best pike fishin' is early, just as the pike season opens. At this time of
the year you will find pike feeding on smaller fish that are still holding in spawning
areas such as rivers or river mouths. Search out the water that has warmed first, then
look for darker coloured bottom flats or early weed growth.
The warmer water can be found where creeks or ditches empty into the river, bringing the preheated water from shallow ponds or fields into the cooler, deeper, river water. This moving, warmer water will attract baitfish in large quantities.
The pike will usually be on the darker bottom spots or on the edges of them. This is the place to use a bait that will run down to 10 or 12 feet on the retrieve such as the Bomber Long A, Smithwick's Spoonbill Super Rogue, or Rapala's Down Deep Husky Jerk.
Fish these baits by first casting towards the shallows and letting the bait drop close to bottom and retrieving it back into deeper water. Try to visualize the bottom structure. Let the bait sink to the weeds and swim just over them for a short distance, 2 or 3 feet. Stop and let the bait sit for a second, then jerk sharply to rip the bait down into the weeds. Stop again, wait a few seconds and repeat. This will cause a strike reaction from the pike, as the bait will appear as though it is wounded and trying to evade the pike. If you find that the pike are following your baits without actually hitting them try letting the bait fall back towards the pike as this will most often trigger a hit.
Perch, suckers and small fish are a good food source for the hungry pike that have just come off their spawn and looking to replace their fat reserves.
Perch sized crank baits with colours that resemble perch will often produce. You will find the pike either holding at the mouth of these rivers or patrolling the channels near the mouth of the river.
The pike will be lying in wait to ambush the fish entering or leaving the rivermouth
and will quite often
Dardevle spoons have long been one of the most widely accepted lures for taking pike. Both the red and white Dardevle and the Cop-E-Cat, or the old "Five of Diamonds" are standard equipment in the pike fisherman's tackle box. Try to get these spoons in the 4" size, as pike prefer to take larger bait, especially at this time of the season.
Buzzbaits with medium blades are also good in these conditions. Try mixing colours like chartreuse blades if you like, but don't neglect the regular silver or gold blades.
Riverbanks offer some good fishing as the pike are constantly on the move. Trolling is the most effective way to fish riverbanks, as much more area can be covered, and your lures can be presented to pike hiding under the banks or near other cover. The best lure choices include sinking Rapalas, Daredevil spoons and buzzbaits with larger tails.
PIKE ON THE LINE
One thing to keep in mind when fishing pike. They are a voracious, hard-hitting and hard fighting fish. Once hooked, a pike will usually run for the weeds and try to wrap the line around logs, stumps etc. It may return to the surface, thrashing and boiling the water in its attempt to break free.
Large pike have been known to swim towards you after hitting and more than one person has lost a trophy fish by not reeling in as fast as possible and repeatedly setting the hook. If you get a hit and the line goes slack, it does not mean that the fish got away! Keep reeling until you feel either the fish or the bait!
The best tackle is a medium heavy, 6 ½ to 7-foot rod with 15 to 20-lb. test line and wire leaders. Spinning or baitcasting reels with good drag systems are fine. Keep the drag set heavy until the initial hook-set and then relax the drag until the fish can peel line off without breaking the line. Now settle down for some great action!
And remember---escox lucius ain't called the "water wolf" for nothing!
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