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Northern Pike Fishing Tips & Techniques

Where The Pike Are:
There are many places where you will find Northern Pike in Northern Ontario Lakes. Generally, you will find small to medium size pike in the back of bays where there is thick weeds, lily pads and wild rice. The small to medium size pike are feeding on small minnows, bugs, frogs and each other. When you come out to the edge of the weeds, the pike will get bigger because the pike have the food of the bay to their back and also have the chance of taking a small Walleye swimming by the outside of the weeds. So where are the big pike?

Wawang Pike Kelly

Big pike generally do not bother with small minnows, frogs and bugs. Their main food is Walleyes, small hammer-handles, Suckers, Chub and Whitefish. The big pike will hang out where they can ambush Walleyes. The prime ambush area is points leading into bays. They will also hang around rocky points, shoals, islands and other places where there are Walleyes. The best place to get a big trophy pike is at the mouth of a stream or river, narrows between islands and water-flow between lakes. The big pike just sit there waiting for Walleyes to swim through. Walleyes tend to migrate around a lake all year, whether it’s moving to find cooler water, deeper water, more food or even finding their spawning grounds.

The classics, red-and-white Daredevil, Five of Diamonds, and a black and white Daredevil

The classics, red-and-white Daredevil, Five of Diamonds, and a black and white Daredevil

Of all the game fish you can catch in Ontario, Northern Pike are the easiest. Pike will hit just about any lure. The most popular lures for Pike are the “red & silver” and the yellow “five-of-diamonds” DareDevles. Pike also hit jigs, Rapalas and Thundersticks. Some of the biggest pike are caught with small jigs while Walleye fishing. It makes sense because the big pike will patrol the outer parameter of the schools of Walleyes.

Play with your bait:
Pike will play with your bait. It’s not uncommon for a big Pike to hit and let go several times before the bait is taken. With this in mind you have to show some patience. If you get a big pike on and then lose him, just wait a little while and he will hit again. Their appetites are so ferocious that they forget quickly and start to feed again. There are many reports by fisherman of catching the same pike over again.

Casting A DareDevil:
One very effective way to maximize the attraction of a DareDevles or other spoons is to slap them. What you do is cast towards your target zone but cast up high so your lure falls into the area you want to fish. When the lure is about 2 or 3 feet above the water, jerk your line towards you. This makes the lure slap on the surface. If you are doing it right, you can hear the DareDevle slap. The sound of a spoon slapping on the surface seems to attract pike and/or trigger a feeding response.

In Northern Ontario, there are generally three types of water. Some lakes are so clear that you can see the bottom 80 feet down. Other shallow lakes can me murky or muddy for days or weeks after a big storm. Many lakes have a wine-red color, which is caused by dissolved iron in the water. With clear water, the red and silver color works best. With muddy or iron-rich water, a yellow Five-of-Diamonds DareDevle seems to work better. In muddy or iron-rich water, rattle baits are even better as the pike can locate the lure by sound.

Muskie and Northern Pike look very similar. Did you know that they are not genetically related? They look the same because they evolved in similar environments. Walleye (Yellow Pickerel) and the Yellow Perch are related even though they look very different.

Using Old Rapalas with your DareDevle:
Do you have a Rapala that’s all chewed up or the little plastic fin broke off? You don’t have to turn it into a key-chain or throw it in the garbage. It’s still very useful.

rap dd

Nothing gets a big monster pike more aggravated than watching another fish trying to eat. Northern Pike are extremely competitive and like to assert their dominance in the food chain. When a pike sees a fish chasing another fish, it’s time for lunch.

With this in mind, take the hooks off your broken Rapala. Then attached a black steel leader. Then attach another leader to the back of the Rapala with a spring-slip-ring. Then attach your DareDevle or what ever you want to use.

Kawartha Muskie Rig With Big Minnows:

This rig is another way of triggering that animal feeding instinct. It’s an old Muskie fishing trick.

wawang lake pike rig
The big trophy Northern are not feeding on bugs and little minnows. They are feeding on 1/2 to 2 pound Walleyes. A big pike will spend too much energy chasing little bits of food. With this in mind, it’s time to look at your bait. Most bait stores will not carry 6 to 8 inch chub or suckers but that’s what you need. Get some 4 pound test line and really tiny hooks and find a small stream. Walk down the stream until you come to a hole and fish for chub/suckers with a little piece of worm. Just about every small stream in Canada has Chub or suckers in it and they are easy to catch.

A big chub on a traditional Kawartha Muskie rig is how you catch the big ones. To make a Muskie rig, you need two steel leaders and two medium size treble hooks. Clip the hooks onto the two leaders. Then clip the two leaders together so that you have a hook at one end and a hook where the two leaders are joined. Tie your line to the eye of the top leader. Next you want to get a medium size float and put the float about 1 foot above the rig. With the end hook, put the hook through the bottom lip of the Chub. With the middle hook, hook the Chub at the base of the tail. Make sure you do not hook the Chub at the end of the tail or the fish will not be able to swim around.

How To Hold A Pike:
The best way is shown above by supporting their belly as holding them lengthwise causes undue stress on the midsection where they can suffer and eventually die.  If you hold a northern pike or walleye up by it’s eye sockets like they use to do in the old days, you squeeze their optic nerves into their brain and they die a slow death.  Be kind and don’t do this.

Gas and Bug Spray:
If you have touched a gas tank, gas line or get gasoline on your hands, scrub (wash) your hands with sugar. After you have put bug spray on, wash your hands with salt. Do this before you touch your lures to minimize transfer of undesirable scents. This will maximize fish strikes.

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Tips for Walleye Fishing Deep Water

King Group

The King group caught & released 57 trophy fish during their week of fishing – NICE!

It has been referred to as the dog days of summer, but we like to call it the summer walleye bonanza. July, August & into September are the best walleye producing months, and here is a quick explanation why.

During the summer, walleye drop to deeper water in large schools. Hundreds of fish group up together and hold, and move, on the edges of rock bars, the tops of deep hard bottomed flats, as well as over deep grass beds. Using your locator, and/or drifting these areas are both good ways to help locate these big schools of fish. Usually the fish are concentrated about 4-8 feet above the thermo-cline, in 20-40 feet of water. As the season progresses, and the water warms, the fish get deeper.

Once located, the fish are easily caught.  Jig/minnow, jig/crawler, or slip sinker rigs, like a lindy rig, are all good producers. Putting as many as 100 Walleyes in the boat is not uncommon, BIG fish are also caught at this time of year, as they seem to hold with the other fish at optimum depths. The use of an underwater camera can aid tremendously in searching out these fish. Some might call it cheating, but it’s more commonly refer to it as a technological advantage. A good locator only sees so much of the bottom, and most boats are rigged with a lesser A model of sonar, unable to pick up these schools of fish, especially if they are tight to the bottom. When found, a marker buoy, and good boat control are key to staying on the fish. Vertical jigging is a technique that is commonly used whenever possible on calm days, but on windy days, anchoring and slip bobbers, or drifting slip-sinker rigs with a drift sock can also produce good results. The schools of fish can move on these structures, so if your anchored and the bite slows, you will have to re-position on the fish.

Colors of jigs for fish on the clearer lakes can be critical at times, so be sure to carry colors like chartreuse, any of the foil colors, green, orange, yellow and even glow in the dark jigs. Dark colored jigs don’t seem to get near the attention that the brighter colors do. The amount of light that penetrates these depths is greatly reduced, making the dark colors harder for the eyes to locate. Brighter colors can be seen from a further distance, attracting more attention to them.

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That brings up what time of day is best to target these schools of walleye.   Heavy cloud cover will provide all day catching along with some of the best fishing you’ll ever exerience, but, clear, sunny skies it’s best to fish early morning to 12:00 pm and then 7:00 pm to dark.  will be the best time to be out.  However, we are dealing with fish so these times are not cut in stone.  The flat calm sunny days can be the best of fishing, boat control is simplified, making it easy to stay right on top of the fish. Factors such as weak cold fronts and other various weather conditions, don’t seem to affect the deep walleyes as much as they do when the fish are shallow. Making the deep season bite fairly consistent.

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Summer Pike Hangouts

Wawang Lake 47" northern pike

Wawang Lake 47″ northern pike

Some points are definitely better than others when fishing for BIG pike! Reading water and being able to carry out a logical fishing approach is the most important part of the process. You can have the sharpest hooks, make the perfect cast and work your lure correctly but if you’re fishing dead water, not much will happen. On structure like points especially, making good use of lure depth and fishing angles is really important. For the most part, points are things that stick out, with more than one side. A shoreline wall, for example, has only one surface. Depending on their shape and layout, a point can have four, five, even six ‘lanes’ or sides to work.

No matter the lake type, it’s amazing how good points almost always have a similar mix of elements. For pike in the middle of the summer, the formula is actually really basic. So much so that is really has become cliché. We’ve heard it that many times! Put some deep water near it, on at least one of the sides. Add in some kind of lead-in cover like weeds or jumbled rock, and put it in a favorable location on the lake as it relates to travel, food and safety and you can hardly go wrong.

Some points are steeper than others, some deeper, some weedier and some shallower. Some have extended shelves or ledges and some drop much quicker into basin-type water. Like any other kind of spot, make sure you have a mixture of them to test out during the trip. If we had to pick six places to fish on a summer evening, at least three of them would be directly facing water as deep as forty feet with a big shelf and lots of new cabbage weeds. It seems like the longer summer drags on, those spots on the main channel side, main lake side or windiest side produce best. They’re prominent, normally large and normally directly fishable with the boat over deep water the bulk of the time. You might swing the boat up into or near water that’s 12, 14 or 16 feet deep, but water twice that depth is always a cast away.

It’s been our experience that the largest, most noticeable projections with the most varied bottom type are the best. Smaller, more out of the way points produce big pike on occasion, but almost all the best big fish spots jump right out at you on a good map. They intersect spans of deep water, form travel barriers and just plain look ‘fishy.’ Are there spots on maps that look dynamite and turn out to be poor?  We’ve fished lots over the years, for sure. But for the most part, good points are not hard to locate. Isolated, offshore structure with no shoreline links or spots for suspended pike take a lot more work to find and learn. Even a topo map of a lake with no depths will show you the major points to start checking.

Speaking of other types of spots (shoals/humps, open water, narrows, walls) good points are almost always the sum of their surrounding parts. In addition to the cover they have themselves, like weeds or boulders, they almost always have good and different areas very close by. Points where a lake branches off or narrows down are a good example. Points that stick out into deep water where you always mark orP1080366 catch other kinds of fish like trout or walleye are another. With enough work and attention, you’re going to find that the best points might not actually have pike right on them, but reasonably close by from one visit to the next.

Always try to fish a spot from a new direction or angle every time you come back to it. On points, you’ve normally got at least three choices: the tip of the point, the port side and the starboard side. Ideally, each should have it’s own special character.     Fish close to the rock itself, the bottom is like you’d expect: smooth, less than 20 feet deep and featureless. As you continue out towards the main lake from there, though, the bottom comes up to 15 feet, and suddenly gets rougher with more boulders, slabs of rock and lots of mixed weeds. That’s normally the spot. Points are like any other fishing area in that they take time to learn once you’ve found a handful to try.

Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are two excellent choices for feeling around a spot and learning what it’s like while keeping your boat off them. They cast a long way and generally come through rocks and weeds cleanly. With a crankbait, fouling it in weeds while you’re learning your way around a point isn’t a bad thing at all. Ripping it clean and/or letting it back out is a great trigger. With lures like Ernies and DepthRaiders, you can walk around cabbage and hit rocks over 15 feet down. Coontail weeds have always been harder to fish lures through than cabbage, even with weedless baits like spinnerbaits. If the weeds are thinner, weighted bucktails with smaller blades and less dressing also work well for working deeper parts of points. In the summer, you’re normally better of fishing 15 feet and down for bigger pike, and all three lure types will get you there. As a bit of a sidebar, for cranking, long rods and long leaders really work best for me. Long, ‘bullwhip’ tosses with a leader 16 or 18 inches long saves your knot, saves your lure and saves big fish. It takes some getting used to, but long, tough casting leaders are the way to go for all-day bottom bouncing with crankbaits. Rods in the 8 to 9 foot range make it easy. That last couple feet of your line takes a lot of abuse cranking rocks and other cover.

Jigs are another good bait for picking points apart and feeling their ups and downs. A one ounce flippin jig with a trailer of some sort is great where weeds are thicker. Bucktails or twisters like you’d use for walleyes are just as good. Simply lifting the jig along and pausing it on bottom is a simple retrieve that works well. Popping a jig off a rock snag or ripping through weeds produces lots of pike.

points and barsYou’ll know you’ve got a winning point to revisit, invest time in and learn if you see or catch other types of fish off it. Walleye like the same points as pike. Without exception, the best pike points fished are also awesome spots for other species and in Wawang Lake this would be perch.  Good points are naturally attractive to all kinds of fish, and in Ontario lakes are rivers, they’re all over the place.  Lots of favorite points will also produce great water fowl and wildlife photos. There’s usually a diving duck, loon, kingfisher, heron, bear or other guest around for you to enjoy.

If you figure out that one part of the spot has a rocky ledge down 15 or 16 feet along one side, set up for long casts with a crankbait. Drive the lure down over a long retrieve, keep it moving and keep your rod tip low. Suspending lures like the Triple D are great here, running deep and staying deep.

If you find a small arm or finger of deep weeds off to one side, maybe try dropping a heavy spinnerbait or jig near it. Any type of presentation-related requirement is very case-specific. It’s going to be your call to make as you learn the spot and what pike like on that type of water at that time of day or season. If size, cover, depth or wind warrants it, troll the spot. There are some days on big points in open water when it’s simply blowing too hard to stay put and cast around. Trolling can be better. In the fall, this and freezing temperatures make the choice easier for you.

Good points for pike are almost always the same from lake to lake, and more than one type of point can be good and worth checking. As a final thought, and back-tracking a bit to investing time, reading and studying water, some great points are totally hidden. Underwater weeds that form a line that bends or juts out awkwardly are still very much ‘points’ in mind. So are extended rock flats off islands or shorelines. When you think about it, any and all types of structures have ‘points’ or ‘pointed’ elements to them. They may or may not be easily picked up watching the shoreline, islands or maps. A poor-looking rock face, weed bed or island might have a magic area sticking out from it. You’ll only find it by putting in the time. GPS and even the best maps are pretty general.   If things got missed. Drawing and marking on your own map is a quick fix.

Pete-Fri-5-27-2016-40inch

With big pike, always remember that they’re not going to be up and snapping every time you drop the trolling motor to fish. They’re a tough fish to catch consistently in the summer. But when they do show up on a point and are active and in range, the results can be pretty awesome. Check your winners a lot, fish them at prime times, learn their ins, outs, ups and downs and you’ll hit a big one.

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On the Contours for Late Summer Walleye

Walleye Wawang LakeLate summer can be a tough season when it comes to catching walleyes. It reaches its peak with hot, muggy days and warm sultry nights through much of August, and then as September nears, it takes a drastic about-face and swings toward the fall season. It’s one of those transition periods that proves difficult for many anglers looking to score consistently. “Hit and Miss” fishing this time of year is often blamed on everything from “Dog Days” to “Turn-Over”, but the biggest problem is most anglers are not fishing the right structure. The key could be as simple as “Think Sharp” … that is to say, concentrate your efforts on sharp breaking structure.

Consider the types of areas you fish throughout most of the summer. Typically they will be large, slow tapering flats, main lake basins or long points that offer lots of room for walleyes to roam and chase forage. It’s structure that has relatively little in the way of definable breaks or edges. That all changes when walleyes move toward breaks in late summer … and when anglers are slow to adjust to the transition, their success rate drops off dramatically. We’ve seen this scenario many times, and through experience found that the most efficient way to contact the fish in these areas was a tactic we call Contour Trolling.

Walleye Wawang 2The key to contour trolling is to keep the bait near the bottom. That can be tough when you’re trying to cover multiple depths in a trolling pass. It’s a situation where we have learned to rely on a unique trolling line known as lead core. Lead core line is basically Dacron line filled with lead. The line is color-metered every ten yards, making it easier to keep track of how much line you have out on various trolling passes. While lead core line is most often used for deep trolling applications, when proper boat control is used, it can be deadly in shallow water as well.

For Contour Trolling with lead core, start with the “full – lead core” set-up, meaning you’re going fill a large capacity trolling reel with lead core line…no backing. Large capacity trolling reels like the Okuma StrataMaster model 45D Line Counter reel will hold ten colors, which is an entire 100 yard spool of 18# lead core line (the preferred size for walleye trolling applications). Whatever reel you choose, be sure it has large enough capacity to handle at least this much line.

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At the end of the lead core we’ll tie on a 10 foot leader of 10/4 (10 pound test/4 pound diameter) Berkley FireLine. The FireLine is a great choice, especially in situations where you’re fishing a “dirty” bottom (one littered with leaves, wood and other debris) because it makes the entire system, from reel to lure, no-stretch and very sensitive. By running a set-up like this, it is very easy to monitor how the bait’s are running by watching the rod tips as you troll. The vibration put out by the lure’s action is telegraphed up the line to the rod tip, causing it to vibrate. If the lure happens to pick up a leaf or other piece of gunk (which is a frequent problem when trolling near the bottom), its action will be deadened, and the rod tip will quit vibrating. That tells you to reel in the lure, clean off the debris, and get back to fishing.

Walleye Wawang Lake 2

What makes lead core so effective for this type of contour trolling is that it is very “speed affected”. Because of the line’s bulk, water resistance effects how it runs in the water, so if you up your trolling speed, the lead core gets pushed up and runs shallower. On the other hand, if you slow down, the weight of the lead core enables it to drop down and run deeper. Therefore, to cover a 4 to 8 foot depth range for instance, manipulate the trolling speed depending on what depth you want the lures to run. Therefore it’s a simple matter of adjusting the trolling speed as you zigzag your way along the break to cover the depths effectively. Whatever depths you are fishing, a little trial-and-error will tell you the right speeds to run to hit the needed depths.

One thing that we have determined through the years with lead core trolling is that, more often than not, it works better with smaller crankbaits than it does with larger models. Smaller, shallow running crankbaits seem to “follow” the lead core better (making targeting specific depths more efficient), and they just seem to trigger more bites. This is ideal for baits like the Berkley Flicker Shad in the 4cm, 5cm, 6cm and 7cm sizes. Experiment to find out what lure gets the most attention on that particular day.

One problem with using smaller lures is they typically sport small hooks. Now while Flicker Shads sport ideal hook sizes for walleye fishing, many bait’s hooks are just too small. This can lead to more lost fish, as small trebles are more likely to pull free when fighting in good sized fish. One modification we recommend is to change out the hooks of your small cranks and replace them with Mustad Ultra Point Triple Grip Trebles (model 36233) or an even better choice would be the new Mustad KVD Elite Triple Grip Trebles model TG58NP-BN. These new Elite Triple grips are a standard length shaft and wire treble with a wider giving these hooks more “bite” than standard trebles.

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Fall Walleye Fishing

Walleye fishing in the cooler weather of autumn is probably second best only to early spring, although there are anglers who would argue this point. Early season walleye fishing is great to say the least, but try a late evening in the fall when you shiver with cold and excitement as the line goes tight and the fish takes off for deeper water. Fall fishing is hard to beat for great action and BIG FISH. As the water cools and the wave action turns the water over, the oxygen levels go up and the walleye will be stimulated and become more active.

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Walleye seem to like the break between shallow and deep water at this time of year. Try trolling along these areas and don’t be afraid to try different depths.  Look for contours near the shore in daylight hours and note their locations. At dusk you can troll along these contours and work them from shallow to deep. But the actual edge of the contours can often be the most productive. Try a zigzag pattern of trolling or casting to cover more water.

Wally Minnow, Smithwick Rogue, Rapalas, countdowns, long wally jigs, Wally Divers, shad raps and spinners with colored blades are among the top choice lures to have in your arsenal.. Remember that late fall will mean a slower troll or presentation if casting. Keep the bait near bottom and retrieve very slowly, letting the bait strike the bottom as you reel it in.

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Try using shad raps, trolled close to bottom, #7 or #9 with a drop weight on a three-way swivel to keep the bait at or close to bottom, or with a bottom-walking sinker. Bottom walkers are best in murky water or in low light conditions. As they are dragged across the bottom they will create a trail of riled water and the bait you have attached will resemble a feeding baitfish. This action is what will attract the walleye.

Spinner blades attached to a 1/8 or ¼ oz. jig head with scent impregnated power baits such as power leeches or power worms are another sure fire way to attract the walleye to your line. The same rig can be used successfully with live minnows. Keep the retrieves relatively slow, as the walleye will be feeding steadily, but not very aggressively.

If you are using a live minnow on its own with a weight, keep the hook within eight inches of the weight. This will give the walleye a better chance to take the minnow. Some anglers prefer to use two lines where allowed, one with a large minnow to attract the fish, and the second with a smaller minnow to actually hook the fish. The vibrations of the larger minnow will bring the walleye in from a greater distance as the walleye are initially attracted by sound and then by sight. If you are fishing at night, you will want to fish shallower, as the walleye will feed closer to the surface.

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Walleye will usually start to feed just at dusk in clear water and this will last until full dark, at this point the action will stop. The eyes on a walleye take up to an hour or more to become accustomed to the dark. This usually happens at the last light of day or full dark, as we know it. At this point they will be able to see again and will start night feeding. Many anglers stop fishing after the initial evening feeding action slows or stops and by doing so miss out on a lot of good fishing.

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Barometric Pressure

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Understanding barometer reading to fish by

The effect of barometric pressure on fishing feeding activity is one of the more interesting theories. In short,  the theory proposes that a dropping air pressure brings on feeding activity, rising pressure turns the fish off feeding, high pressure results in the fish moving to shallower water, and low pressure results in fish moving to deeper water. This article will provide an overview on barometric pressure, summarize various theories about why atmospheric pressure affects fishing activity, and then summarize in tabular fashion the generally accepted fish behaviours with various barometric patterns.

Barometric pressure is the measure of the weight of the atmosphere above us. A barometer is used to measure air pressure.  The earliest barometer consisted of a glass vacuum tube inserted into a container of mercury which was exposed to the pressure of the air.  Increased air pressure would force the mercury up the tube in a height proportunal to the pressure. The height was measured in inches (inHg) or in millibars (1 inch = 33.864 millibars). Although new types of barometers are now used, these measures are still in place. In general, 30 inHg or 1016 millibars is considered to be normal air pressure. In normal weather, 30.5 is considered extreme high, and 28.5 is considered extreme low. The measures are taken at sea level, a higher

There are many useful gadgets on the market that can help the fisherman today.

There are many useful gadgets on the market that can help the fisherman today.

elevation has less atmosphere above it, so a correction factor against the normal measure is needed depending on altitude.

 

It is believed that the effect of barometric pressure is greater in shallow water than deep, probably due to the pressure of the weight of the water in deep water being so high, that the air pressure above it is not relatively significant.

The principal theory, is that the effect of changing pressure on the swim bladders of fish makes them uncomfortable or dis-oriented. In this theory, the fish will move to feel well, or they feel bloated or full. With a lowering barometer, it is believed these fish move into deep water seeking higher water imagesCA1344Y9pressure and ride out the low pressure around structures.  The theory suggests that just prior to change from a high to a low, fish will bite like crazy until the low hits and then stop. The difficulty with this theory, is that water is 900 times more dense than air, and generates signicantly more pressure than air. In fact,a 3 foot wave will produce a variation of pressure more significant than can be expected from a change in atmospheric pressure through a dramatic change, and the wave effect is happening every few seconds, rather than the hours or days that the atmospheric changes takes to occur.

Frankly, given that the pressure of water depth is such a significantly greater factor than the pressure of atmosphere, it seems likely that the weather conditions created by changes in barometric pressure, such as clouds, rain and wind, have more effect on fishing than the barometric pressure alone. So in the opinion of the author, barometric change is a good indicator of fishing change, but it’s not because of the pressure change by itself, as much as what other weather conditions are likely to occur because of the pressure change.
The following table attempts to summarize the barometric pressure, and observations on fish activity and fishing techniques.

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Pressure Trend Typical Weather Fish Behaviour Suggested Fishing Tactics
High Clear skies Fish seek cover, look for logs, weeds in shallows. If water too warm, will stop biting. Fish structure close to surface, with shallow crankbaits, poppers, etc..
Rising Clearing or improving Fish start to move out of deeper water.  After a day or so, go to normal feeding. Fish with brighter lures and near cover, moving from deeper water to shallower water.
Normal and stable Fair Normal activity. Experiment with your favorite baits and lures.
Falling            Degrading Most active feeding. Range of different methods. Surface and shallow running lures may work well.
Slightly lower Usually cloudy Fish seek deeper water, with water temp maybe also slowing them down. May need to settle before feeding again. Use deep running lures at a moderate speed.
Low Rainy and stormy Fish move to deeper structures, may not feed. Fish deep structures, vary your methods.

Of course, the longer a period of high feeding activity, the more likely the fish are to stop feeding and the longer the period of inactivity, the more likely the fish are to start feeding.

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Draw your own conclusions on the effect of a changing barometric pressure on fishing activity. Whether pressure changes by themselves cause feeding changes may be in question, but the patterns seem to be there regardless.

‘There is certainly something in angling that tends to produce a serenity of the mind’

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Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Barometer, Fishing, Fishing TIPS, weather

 

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Spoon Fed Pike

Nick-Fri-5-27-2016-35inch

It seems that more and more emphasis is being put on the use of body baits. Tackle companies are spending more money developing the perfect swimming action, the perfect wobble, or rattle, or any number of other characteristics. The spoon seems to have fallen by the wayside in favor of Husky Jerks, Bombers, Torpedoes, and other similar lures.

However, one cannot discount the fact spoons have, and, will continue to, catch big pike.    If the fishing has been slow, not a cloud in the sky, no wind, very hot try this;   put on a blue and silver Little Cleo and with a slow retrieve, pike we can’t resist the flash and thumping wobble of the spoon and you’ll be bringing in fish after fish.

There’s nothing like quietly sneaking into a backwater bay, seeing the shadow flash toward your lure, the smash of the strike, and the dash for freedom a big pike makes when hooked. We should backtrack a little here and look at what brings us to this point.

Just after the ice begins to break up, female pike begin to move into shallow, weedy bays. When the water temperature reaches the 40 to 45 degree range, large females, often accompanied by one or more smaller males, will deposit her eggs in six inches to three feet of water. Pike do not build a nest, the eggs are randomly dropped and will stick to vegetation. The water closer to shore usually warms up first so the eggs are usually dropped close to shore. A few days after spawning, the females leave the area. The males will stay in the area for several weeks but do not protect the eggs or the fry. The eggs and fry are preyed upon by crayfish, insects, birds and other fish.

There are a few things to always look for when looking for early season pike, no matter where the lake or waterway is located. The best spawning areas will have access to deeper water close by because, a few days after spawning, the females will leave the spawning area for deeper water. The deeper water also provides an escape for the pike should some threat arise. This may only be a depth of eight to 12 feet.  Look for backwater bays that is close to a main lake; a bay far from a main lake will rarely have the numbers of fish a closer bay would hold. After they spawn, pike will head to the first deep drop-off they find, and will feed on whatever they can. They will stay here until the water warms even more.

Pike will not stray far from food and generally the area near the shore will be most fertile. Pike fishermen have caught more big pike where a stream enters a larger body of water than anywhere else.

Pike feed by ambushing their prey and therefore need cover to hide behind, so the back bay needs lots of weeds. The eggs will stick to the weeds as well. Smaller baitfish and other food will be found trying to hide from foraging pike by hiding in the same weeds.  Always keep an eye out for fish, or other prey, the pike will be feeding on.

Observe where the sun is shining the strongest. Exposure to sunlight will allow the bay to warm faster, and the warmer bay will have more weed growth, creating good conditions for the pike to begin spawning. At the same time, keep in mind that the sun will be casting your shadow, which can spook that trophy sunning in the shallow water.

From Lucky Strike, a gold Scarlett Eye, a silver Scarlett eye and a Toronto Wobbler

From Lucky Strike, a gold Scarlett Eye, a silver Scarlett eye and a Toronto Wobbler

The most common way to fish with spoons is to cast and retrieve, or troll at a steady pace. A stop-and-go retrieve has proved productive for me, this lets the spoon drop and flutter. Often the fish will strike when the lure drops, so use the drop-and-flutter instead of the Figure Eight when you have a follow.  You will have more strikes doing this, than with the Figure Eight. At a deeper drop-off, you will have more luck jigging a spoon up and down, where, again the strike occurs on the downward flutter. To keep the action of a spoon as natural as possible use a shorter leader, in the area of three to four inches, a steel leader is a must to land a toothy pike.

While spoon baits are very basic in design, here are some favorites.    The Toronto Wobbler, made by Lucky Strike, is a good spoon. The combination of gold and silver provides plenty of flash, not to mention the solid feel when casting this lure. This spoon is a good general-purpose spoon and if you’re in a lake you’ve never fished before, use this one and you’ll be well on your way to catching some fish in no time.

Also made by Lucky Strike is the Scarlet Eye. The thin body of this lure makes it a good choice if there is thick weed cover. You will find it will rip through weeds easily. The red eye gives a different type of look as the lure spins; it imitates a wounded baitfish.

The classics, red-and-white Daredevil, Five of Diamonds, and a black and white Daredevil

The classics, red-and-white Daredevil, Five of Diamonds, and a black and white Daredevil

Two classic spoons, whose reputation speaks for themselves are the Daredevle and the Five of Diamonds. There probably aren’t many fishermen who don’t have at least one Daredevle (or a knock off) in their tackle box. It

seems like the old devil has been around forever.  Needless to say there have been more fish caught on Daredevle’s then any other lure. The red-and-white combination is like a red flag to a bull.  A pike will strike just because the spoon is driving him mad!   There are several colors to choose from; some with a silver back, while others have a gold back.   Notably, the gold gives a little extra flash in murky water.

Keep a few weedless spoons in your box just in case you’re in a very weedy bay. Rapala has recently brought out a line of weedless spoons; these have a thick, solid body with a deep curve. The action is good and these spoons are colored to look like baitfish.  Use them with a twister-type tail to give an added action; pike seem to like this little extra action.

 The weedless lures I use, a blue and silver Rapala, Johnson Silver Minnow, Johnson Daredevil


The weedless lures  use, a blue and silver Rapala, Johnson Silver Minnow, Johnson Daredevil

Be sure to keep a couple Johnson Silver Minnows in your weedless arsenal too. These, while much thinner than the Rapala, are a very good producer. The simple design of this spoon hides its fish-catching ability. Various patterns are available, including a Daredevil like pattern.

Generally, the sunnier and warmer the spring weather, the better the pike fishing will be. As the day goes on and the water get warmer, the more the fish will hit and they will be more willing to chase a lure. Keep the Figure Eight method in mind.  Try going into the spawning bay first and  cover lots of water, just in case the big females are up in the shallows, then move to the first drop-off, checking any humps or clumps of weeds.  Keep your eyes open, and try different retrieve speeds and techniques, and the pike will nearly always come through.

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