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Category Archives: spoons

Spoon Fed Pike

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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Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

1doug0427

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

IMG_4978

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

34" northern pike

34″ northern pike

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

pike

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one.

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Spoon Styles for PIKE

Nick-Tue-5-24-2016-38inch

Even within the ranks of diehard pike fans, few fully consider the variables in spoon design, size, and finish that determine whether pike spoons get a strike or get passed on our attempts to mimic reality.  The strike-stirring wobble and flash of spoons has seduced countless otherwise cautious gators over the years, and continues to do so today.

First, note that spoons as a lure category are riding a rising tide of effectiveness for pike in many waters. It’s a case of a lure coming full circle with the rise and fall of angler use, and corresponding level of fish conditioning to it. While spoons were once the most common—if not the only—type of lure pike saw in many systems across the continent, their use in many waters waned as pike became conditioned to this presentation.

Prime Factors
Of all the variables that come into play in selecting the right spoon, choosing one that provides the optimal running depth and speed are most important. It sounds basic, but many otherwise savvy anglers skip this key building block in their rush to address other elements of the presentation, such as differences in finish or color pattern.

Depth control is key and to address this key concern and apply them throughout prime spooning periods. In spring, lures like the light, fluttery Williams and Doctor spoons work best.

Pike move into the shallows of bays where the water is a bit warmer. Light spoons are ideal for the 2- to 5-foot depths where pike often lie. And they fit the speed part of the equation, too—light spoons hold their wobble and produce good flash, even when fished slowly.

Light is a relative term, but thin, light-for-their-length options such as the 3¼-inch, 5/8-ounce Original Doctor or 4-inch, 1/2-ounce Eppinger Flutter Chuck are good examples. In general, Beattie focuses on spoons up to 5 inches long throughout the season, relying mostly on 3- to 4-inchers early in the year.

Pete-Fri-5-27-2016-37inch1

We typically don’t get to sight-fish in tea-stained waters, I make long casts into the back ends of bays, often around last season’s reeds or other remnant vegetation. Inlets can be key, as can the presence of baitfish.  Often, a spoon provides all the action needed, though at times a twitch or pause triggers strikes better than a straight retrieve.

Heavier-for-length spoons, such as 4-inch, 3/4-ounce Williams Wabler and classic Dardevles,  in deep water, particularly during fall, when targeting large pike suspended over rocky, main-lake structure such as points and reefs.  A hefty, hard-thumping spoon is a killer in fall, when pike feed on big, fatty baitfish such as smelt and lake herring.   Water depths range from 15 to 20 feet cast out, count the spoon down about 8 feet, and begin a much faster and more animated retrieve than in spring.  Move the spoon faster, using a steady retrieve with plenty of pops and jerks of the rod tip.

Fine Tuning Techniques
Once you dial in depth and speed, you can fine-tune other variables such as size, shape, and color, which determine what the pike sees and feels once the spoon is in the right area, moving at the right pace. Having a well-stocked spoon larder is a plus, including an assortment with the same color pattern in different shapes and lengths. These tools let you dig deep into the nitty-gritty of profile and vibration, while keeping color constant.

Given the pike’s amazing abilities to detect vibration, you can bet on the wobble and vibrations produced trump profile in the grand scheme. Pike are accustomed to sensing and tracking prey by vibration before they’re able to see it—whether it’s out of visual range or hidden from view by cover. This helps explain why a spoon that sounds and feels like a 1-pound sucker attracts more interest from big, aggressive pike than a dainty offering that feels like a fingerling.

Putting these concepts into practice is a matter of learning how spoons work at different speeds, and matching their actions to the conditions at hand without sacrificing depth or speed. Describing and categorizing wobbles is a personal matter.

  • Dardevle:  1-ounce Dardevle’s rolling, stuttering cadence as a wupwupwup
  • Huskie Devle goes more like woo-woo-wuppa, as in each wobble sequence it stutters left-right, then wuppas sharply back to the left.

As you study the locomotion of each spoon style and size, note the frequency and intensity of wobbles, stutters, and swerves it makes, along with the width of the spoon’s path through the water. Time on the water and a good memory—or better yet, a journal give you an appreciation of each spoon’s actions and help you put together a comprehensive set of spoon strategies.

DD

Spoon Presentation
During a tough bite or on heavily pressured water, even a well-stocked spoon box stumbles now and then, calling for special tweaks to turn the tide.  A simple trick when dealing with pressured pike is downsizing to a 2.5-inch Luhr Jensen Tony’s Spoon, and adding a ReelBait Fergie Spoon Clacker to the front of it because a pike’s yen for this combo has proven excellent pike fishing while fishing walleye.

Practice a variation of the classic lift-fall cadence. When pike stalk but don’t strike, retrieve with the rod tip high (about the 10 o’clock position), then snap the tip to 12 o’clock and lets the spoon fall backward on slack line while lowering the rod tip. The move puts the spoon in a following fish’s face, often triggering a strike. A heavy-bottomed spoon like the Dardevle shines for this technique, though thin, light spoons are easier to fish in shallow water and often produce a more erratic fall, which in itself can be an added trigger.

Think tubular and remove a spoon’s treble hook, trims the nose off a 2-inch, soft-plastic tube, insert the hook in the tube and reattach it to the spoon.  The tube’s tentacles look like a baitfish’s tail moving through the water, and can increase strikes, and another tweak is adding a holographic eye to the spoon, which often boosts bites as well.

fallpike

At times, use a spoon with a softbait trailer with an exaggerated lift-fall motion to create an outlandish show. Trollers relentlessly strain the deep weededge with heavy spoons, diving crankbaits, and the like, quickly removing reckless pike from the population.

Start by snipping the tail section off a 3-inch Berkley Gulp! Alive! Minnow Grub; usually the tail and tail base are enough.  Thread this on the treble of a thin-metal, flutter-style spoon—a favorite is a gold, 3¼-inch, 5/8-ounce Williams Ice Jig, with the mid-body hook removed. The combination of a fluttery spoon and softbait tail produce a fall that’s tantalizingly slow, but very flashy and mildly erratic (mostly straight down). Middle-distance or short casts are fine then guide the spoon into open pockets within beds of cabbage.

Let the spoon fall 4 to 8 feet or more (as depth and vegetation allow) on a semi-slack line, maintaining a bit of control but not impeding action. Then lower the rod tip and rip the spoon back up, either in one sweep or a series of snaps, then let it flutter down again. Repeat the process as you work the spoon to the boat.

Combine the core elements of depth and speed with size, action, and flash—then mix in a few tricks as needed and you’ll be well on your way to a hot spoon bite that will provide excellent results.

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Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

1doug0427

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

IMG_4978

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

34" northern pike

34″ northern pike

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

pike

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one.

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Spoons For Walleyes

When using spoons for walleyes, most anglers assume the method is vertically fishing heavy jigging spoons in deep water. With apologies to the heavy-metal brigade, when it comes to trolling spoons, thin is in.

spoonsFlutterspoons–thin, lightweight, flexible spoons commonly used by trout and salmon anglers–have superb applications for walleyes. Their use for walleyes originated among Great Lakes trollers pursuing salmon and trout, whereupon anglers began stumbling upon excellent catches of lunker walleyes. From there, the technique evolved into full-fledged systems for giant ‘eyes.

Flutterspoons have three main characteristics separating them from other lure families commonly used for walleyes: (1) they’re thin, lightweight, and have no diving characteristics of their own; therefore, some type of weight, diver, or diving lure is needed to take them down to the desired depth; (2) spoons run at higher speeds than most walleye presentations, with many performing admirably from just over 1 to about 3 mph, sometimes faster; and (3) spoons feature attractive combinations of wobble, flash, and color to trigger walleye strikes while quickly eliminating unproductive water.

Unlike wide casting spoons or thick casting spoons, flutterspoons are thin and flexible with little weight. Most are also relatively narrow. Minor size, shape, and thickness variations give each manufacturer’s models a unique blend of attributes.

While trout and salmon anglers frequently use a range of flutterspoon sizes, walleye fishermen tend to prefer the smaller sizes. For example, the standard size Michigan Stinger (Advance Tackle) is 3 3/4 inches long x 3/4 inches wide; the smaller Scorpion, a popular walleye lure, is only 2 1/4 inches long x 1/2 inches wide. Pro King Tackle offers the standard Pro King and smaller Pro Spoon. Wolverine Tackle’s Silver Streak features numerous models including the standard 300 series and the smaller Mini Streak 200 series. Day in and day out, the smaller versions of these spoons seem to trigger walleyes best, although, at times, slightly larger spoons, like the Silver Leaf Spoon now marketed by Erie Dearie, can be dynamite.

spoon2Flutterspoons also come in an extensive range of colors and hues with exotic names as colorful as their patterns. Two of the current rages on Lake Erie are Monkey Puke (green and gold) and Kevorkian or Dr. Death (a purple-pink combo considered deadly in deep water). Other areas, like Saginaw Bay, might favor different combos. As always, hot color patterns change throughout the seasons according to available forage, water clarity, and weather conditions.

Delivery Systems
Spoons allow faster fishing than spinners and most crankbaits, and they easily cover larger areas and at varied depths with the same rigging. Directional divers like Luhr-Jensen’s Dipsey Diver are perfectly geared to spoons. Angled divers tied in-line to your main line, with a 5- or 6-foot leader, will dive down at a preset, adjustable angle, either straight below the boat or at some angle to either side. This allows you to set out numerous rods, with planers set to dive down and out at different angles, to strain the water column.

illustration Wawang Lake

Anglers also troll small spoons on a three-way rig, removing the traditional sinker and replacing it with a deep-diving crankbait like a Hot’N Tot. This takes the spoon down to the desired depth. Different crankbaits sizes can be used to target different depths. And obviously, it provides the chance to simultaneously trigger fish with two different lures and to experiment with different lure styles, colors, and actions. Some folks even squirt or rub a little scent on the spoon to, in their opinion, enhance its effectiveness.

illustration2 Wawang Lake

Obviously, any weighting system can be used to take spoons down to desired depths, though some form of diving system–be it a three-way crankbait rig or a directional diving planer–seems to be the method of choice when trolling lightweight flutterspoons for walleyes on the Great Lakes.

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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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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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