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Using Leeches & Worms + VIDEO

 LEECHES AND NIGHTCRAWLERS

walleye_catchLeeches and night-crawlers are favorite foods of the walleye because they are natural offerings in most waters and walleye are accustomed to feeding on them.

When presented properly they are irresistible. A stretched out, wiggling leech bouncing  along just over the bottom of a gravel bar or weed bed, will make even the most finicky walleye take a second look, turn around and zero in on target,   mouth open and taste buds tingling.

Hook the sucker end of the leech to the first hook of a spinner rig and place the tail section on the last hook. Place it in the water and pull it at the same speed you are   going to troll or retrieve at and look for the size, movement and or roll of the leech. It should run straight not roll up into a nondescript little ball; this does not attract walleye. When you have the leech trailing the way you want it’s time to add a few light split shots to get it down to the desired depth. By placing the split shot about eighteen inches to two feet in front of the hook you should be within six inches of bottom with the leech as you troll or retrieve, and you won’t have to run a whole lot of line out behind the boat.

Night-crawlers are attached to your spinner rigs in the same way. Again, make sure they are stretched out along the rig so they trail out on the retrieve. Choose the   largest and fattest worms available.

COLOUR

The spinner rig can be purchased at a local tackle shop and comes in many variations of size and  colors.

A simple rule to remember when faced with color choices is: bright days + clear water = silver spinner is a very good choice.  Darker water or cloudy days try a fluorescent or gold spinner are other good choices

The beads most often used are red with white, or yellow; try mixing the colors until you come up with the pattern that works best for you.

SPEED.

Try slow trolling or retrieving the leech at a fairly fast pace at first to take advantage of more aggressive fish.   Remember that you should troll according the weather system.

Meaning:
Bright, clear day:  troll slow or even jig
Cloudy, rainy day:  Troll faster and a willow leaf blade is a very good choice

A rate of about half again the normal trolling speed usually works well.  Keep track of where the fish are hitting and come back over these same spots again but a little slower this time to take   advantage of the less aggressive fish. Remember that it is not always the larger fish that are most aggressive and by fishing back you can add considerably to your stringer.

CASTING

Having reached the place you are going to fish, maybe a shoal or weed bed that you have had some luck on before, try fan casting. Start at a right angle to where you are standing facing the water. Throw the first cast to the right and keep working  to the left until you have gone in a complete arch to the other end. This will allow you to cover every bit of the water facing you. Now move down until you are at the edge of the spot you covered last and start the same procedure over again. When you have worked your way to the end of the area that you wanted to fish, you will have covered the area correctly.

Inlets are a good place to practice this pattern of casting, especially early season as the walleye are quite often in this area looking for small, early baitfish or crustaceans. By fan casting you can cover this entire area of water.

The above methods have consistently proven to be successful for opening season walleye.   So get your live bait and be ready for a fun day on the lake.

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FISHING with Soft Plastics

26" walleye

26″ walleye

The evolution of soft plastic baits has greatly advanced over the years virtually giving anglers a wide variety and selection for all game fish. Soft plastics offer many advantages over hard bodied lures such as crank baits and spoons that does not have the soft texture as real food. When a fish strikes a soft plastic bait it feels natural so fish will mouth it longer giving the angler extra time to set the hook. In making soft bait’s the plastic is heated into a liquid form then poured in a mold to replicate the shape, grub, worm, bait fish, crawfish, lizard, frogs, and insects.

During the bait making process additional ingredients can be added to appeal to the fish’s senses such as, scents, layered colors, metal flakes, and flavors. Other significant details of soft baits today in manufacturing is to add life-like realistic features like crescent rings on worms and grubs, floating claws on crawfish, web feet and feelers on amphibians, holographic and translucent flash on shad and minnow baits replicating the scales of bait ish.

Other benefits in fishing with soft plastics are rigging the hook, the point can be buried into the body of the bait where it cannot snag underwater obstructions such as dense weeds, rocks, brush and logs, but yet the hook will penetrate through the soft bait when you set the hook. Another is scents, they can be treated with bottled-paste attractants or purchase them already molded in. Soft plastic’s will hold scents much longer than hard bodied lures that wash off quickly.

Fishing Set-ups with Soft Plastic’s

variety plasticsIn casting or vertical jigging the smallest soft plastic lures for perch use ultra light spinning gear spooled with 4-6lb test monofilament. Species such as walleye  with a mid-sized plastic’s use a medium light to medium spinning gear with 6-10 lb test monofilament. In using larger plastic’s with hooks buried into the bait that requires a strong hook set for large mouth bass and northern pike use medium to medium heavy bait casting gear spooled with 14 to 20lb test low stretch monofilament line. For pike that have the largest plastic’s up to and over 1lb use heavy to extra heavy bait casting gear spooled with 50 to 80lb low stretch abrasion resistance braided line. Many rod manufactures specializes in making powerful fast action rods dedicated for soft plastic fishing.
The popular use by anglers of soft plastics has skyrocketed over the years by the increased number of new products introduced annually by lure companies this is evident with fishing tackle pro shops in store displays, catalog pages for online and print buyers guides.

As a reference listed below are a few of the most commonly used soft plastics in order to help you identify each type.

wormsWorms

The invention of the plastic worm spawned more variations of soft plastic baits than any other in fishing lure history. Grubs, jerk worms, crawfish, tubes, lizards, swim/bait fish all were developed based on the introduction of the soft plastic worm technology back in 1949 by a Ohio lure maker. Worms come in sizes from a few inches for perch up to 12 inches for walleye and pike. The types ( floating and sinking) and the colors of worms made today are in hundreds of thousands with the multitude of color variations and scents. The main fish attracting action components of worms are the texture (ringed, ribbed or smooth) affecting the sink rate and the tail (ribbon, twister, paddle, or straight) which provides vibrations when the worm is moved. In rigging a worm, there are two options pre-rigged with a hook or series of hooks, or using a Texas rig the most common, Carolina rig, wacky rig and the drop shot rig.

grubsGrubs

Fishing with soft plastic grubs has been a longtime favorite among anglers for all species. Grubs are composed of soft plastic round body either ringed, ribbed or smooth, combined with single curly tail, double curly split tail, paddle tail, or straight tails for various actions. Grubs come in various lengths from 1″ up to 12″ and hundreds of colors combinations. The most common use for grubs is tipped on a jig, or as a trailer on an inline spinners and spinner baits. Grubs are also popular to fish using a drop shot rig, split shot rig and Carolina rigs.

bait fish

Bait Fish

Soft plastic bait fish come in numerous sizes and colors to mimic forage fish. Determine what bait fish are in the waters you’re fishing and select a profile size and color to match, for a natural presentation. Usually the smaller the better. Many soft plastic bait fish baits feature a paddle tail that wiggles when retrieved, but others have curly tails and forked tails that give them swimming action. Fishing soft plastic bait fish imitations are an excellent choice jigged along the bottom or brought in on a straight retrieve.

tubesTubes

Tubes are rounded hollow soft plastic bodied bait open-ended with a series of tentacles on the base. The main body is usually smooth but some have a ribbed exterior. The interior hollow design works well with holding liquid or paste scents. Tubes range in sizes from 1″-2″ for perch 3″-6″ for walleye and up to 14″ for big pike. Most often tubes are rigged using a weighted tube jig placed within the tube’s body or to make a tube weedless anglers use a wide gap hook threading it through the nose and securing the hook into the body on the outer wall of the tube. Upon casting a tube it will display a spiral action on the fall with the tentacles undulating providing an injured bait fish look, in jigging the tube off the bottom it will appear as a crawfish imitation especially good for feeding walleye. Tubes can be rigged as bait using a Texas Rig, Carolina Rig, or on a drop shot rig.

crawfishCrawfish

The soft plastic crawfish or crawdad is a deadly on walleye at certain times and when presented along rocky bottom area’s. The main feature of an imitation crawfish is the pinchers when tipped on a jig it gives the bait a realistic defensive posture by raising its claws that sends bass a signal to feed. Crawfish soft plastic’s are available from craw trailers to the highly detailed featuring pinchers, antennae, legs, abdomen and tail.

lizards

Lizards

Although not widely used for walleye these have been known to catch walleye at certain times during the summer.   Lizards come is a wide variety of colors, scents, ribbed, smooth, floating and sinking. The most common fishing techniques are similar to fishing plastic worms, using Texas and Carolina rigs or tipped on a jig for flipping and pitching.

leeches

Leeches & Reepers

Leeches and reapers are a basic variation of a soft plastic grub, rounded head and body leading to a soft thin membrane sides. The smaller reapers resemble a leech while the larger reapers mimic bait fish. The sizes start from 3″ for walleye and bass up to 12″ for pike. Most anglers rig a leech/reaper tipped on a jig head inserting the hook through the head or use a split shot rig and a single hook. Reapers are a good bait to use on waters that receive a high amount of angling pressure.

frogs

Frogs

Using a floating soft plastic frog around heavy weeds for pike is exhilarating as the pike comes out of the water and gulps your lure. The advantages of soft-plastic surface frogs are, they are weedless with the hooks positioned against the body, they feel natural with their soft spongy body, so the bass will hang on to the lure longer giving more time for the angler to set the hook. The best fishing tip we can offer while using a top water frog is fish slow. After a cast let the frog sit until the ripples subside now pop or twitch the frog once or twice, then let the frog sit for a few seconds and repeat. To change-up the presentation upon reaching weed pocket or opening let the frog sit and just barely twitch the frog so just the legs quiver. Summertime pike laying in the weeds aren’t active at these times, but can be enticed by an easy meal.

magnumsMagnum

From the 1950’s through the 1970’s the soft plastic bait industry was focused on worms and grubs used for walleye. That changed in the 1980’s when small basement lure companies started producing larger soft plastic lures designed for pike. This spawned a revolution in the 1990’s regarding the soft plastic lure market as larger companies began taking notice and adding larger soft plastic baits to their product line. Today there are hundreds of variations, colors, combinations of hard bodied soft tail baits, some even weighing 1 lb and 15 inches in length. Fishing with super sized soft plastic’s opened a new chapter and presentation for pike anglers throughout the world.

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Deep Water Walleye Fishing

DSCN0898When you catch a big Walleye, big meaning over 6-pounds, there is a 95% chance that it’s a female. The big females generally only go into the shallows in the spring where they are up along the shore, in rivers or over sandbars, which are their favorite places to spawn. The smaller males seem to stay in the 2 to 15 foot range all year. The bigger females tend to go deeper then 15 feet. When fishing deep for big mid-summer/ early fall walleye fish between 20 and 40 feet deep.

Why do the big females go deep? There are several explanations depending on the size of the lake and how far north the lake is.

1) Bigger females have a larger air bladder, which makes them hyper sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure. Being deeper makes the adjustment a little easier when the weather changes.LOTM-rapala-ice-jig

2) Bigger females spend too much energy chasing small bait fish that are found in shallow water. The bigger bait fish that are found is shallow water like perch etc., are hard to swallow as they have defensive spins in their fins. Lake Chub, Whitefish, Lake Herring  are all found in abundance down deep AND this food source is abundant in Wawang Lake. They are easier to swallow and more rewarding when considering the amount of energy needed to catch them. These deep water bait fish, especially Whitefish, have more oil in their meat thus more calories.

3) A walleye metabolism speeds up in shallow warm water. As a result, the bigger they get, the more food they need to maintain their weight. If the food is not there, they go to deeper cold water so their metabolism slows down. The dangerous thing about this is there is a fine threshold between eating more or conserving energy. If a big Walleye gets to the point where they can not find enough food to maintain their weight, they do get smaller, then they die. As soon as a Walleye gets to the point where they are starting to weaken from lack of food energy, they do not have the energy to catch bait fish and starve to death.

4) In smaller northern lakes, there is a larger population of Pike regularly attack walleye and bigger slower moving females are an easy target. This is another reason why they go deep right after they spawn.

 

DSCN0892
Some Types of Lures to Use on the Big Lake:

When you are Walleye fishing on big water like Wawang Lake, the walleye tend to stay suspended along with the schools of bait fish. Lets say you were on a big  part of the lake, , the best thing to do is troll until you come across a deeper school of bait fish and then keep trolling over the bait school.

These schools of bait-fish can be 15 to 40 feet deep and the walleye will be there too. The most popular lures are the Rapala Husky Jerks and the Rattlin’ Fat
Raps.
–> 10 to 20 feet deep – Regular Husky Jerks
–> 20 to 40 feet deep – Down Deep Husky Jerk or Down Deep Rattlin’ Fat Rap

Just troll around and use your depth finder to spot schools of fish. To determine how deep you are, the Regular Husky Jerks go down about 1 foot for every 10 feet of line out. The Down Deep Rapalas go down about 3 feet for every 10 feet of line out. So using a Down Deep Rapala, getting down 30 feet deep means you need 100 feet of line out. This is just a general estimate. The speed of your troll will affect how deep the lures will go.

3-Way Swivel Rig:

 

The best way to fish down deep for Walleye is with 10-pound test line and a 3-way swivel rig. This technique is also excellent for other fish that are right on bottom in the 20 to 60-feet of water.

You need 8 to 10 pound test because thicker line has too much friction with the water and it will be hard to find the bottom. You also need a 1-oz or 2-oz weight, a 3-way swivel and a lure that does not sink. Use an Original floating Rapala, Junior Thunderstick, Countdown Rapala or a worm harness with small spinner blades and a big fat worm.

This rig is smaller than the standard type; You need a 3-foot lead line from the 3-way swivel to the sinker. Then you need a 5 or 6-foot lead line to your lure.  Get a strait slow troll going and slowly let out line until your sinker hits the bottom. Then reel up a foot and wait.. Keep those lines tight!

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Choosing the Right Gear Ratio

reel gear

Buying new fishing reels overwhelms many anglers, as an abundance of options can muddy the waters. One of the big decisions involves choosing the right gear ratio reel. Understanding gear ratios in fishing reels will increase your efficiency on the water and decrease your stress level when faced with a big purchasing decision.

Some quick technical talk

The gear ratio of a reel is measured by how many times the spool turns for each single turn of the handle. For instance, if a reel has a gear ratio of 6.4:1, every time you turn the handle, the spool inside turns exactly 6.4 times.

As a result, a reel with a gear ratio of 5.1:1 is going to be a much slower reel than one with a 7.1:1 gear ratio—the spool of a 5.1:1 reel will spin 5.1 times with each handle turn, while the 7.1:1 spool will turn 7.1 times with each handle turn.

It also helps to know the IPT of a reel or Inches per Turn. This is a measure of how much line is retrieved into the reel with a single handle turn. It can also mean a gear ratio reel that claims to be the fastest may really be the same as other high speed reels.

Because spool size, depth and width can impact IPT, just because a reel is 7.3:1 or 8:1 doesn’t necessarily mean it reels in more line per turn than a 7.1:1 reel– it also depends on the spool and line size.

Uses for a low gear ratio reel | 5.1:1 thru 5.4:1

•    Deep crankbaits
•    Big swimbaits
•    Deep water spinnerbaits

A lower gear ratio reel is ideal for big baits that pull a lot, such as deep crankbaits. These reels have the highest amount of torque, allowing you to put less effort into retrieving the bait and more energy towards finding the fish.

These reels are also great for slow rolling big, heavy baits such as spinnerbaits and swimbaits. In cold water when bass are especially wary, a slow gear ratio is perfect for these slower, non-threatening presentations. A slow reel also aids in keeping these baits in the strike zone longer, which can prove invaluable when fishing moving baits in deep water.

Uses for a medium gear ratio reel | 6.1:1 thru 6.4:1

•    Squarebill crankbaits
•    Medium depth crankbaits
•    Shallow spinnerbaits
•    Shallow castable umbrella rigs

These reels are great for multiple techniques and presentations, making them very popular among northern pike anglers. Whether you’re plowing through nasty cover with a squarebill during the prespawn or bombing spinnerbaits on shallow flats in the fall, a medium gear ratio reel will do the job.

Many prefer a 6.4:1 reel whenever using anything that triggers a reaction strike. The extra speed will let you fish the bait quickly, forcing the most aggressive fish to react. Conversely, opt for a 6.1:1 reel when fishing crankbaits that run in 8- to 14-foot range. The small decrease in speed helps keep them in the strike zone longer, while still maintaining enough speed to solicit a reaction strike and giving me added torque.

Uses for a high gear ratio reel | 7.1:1 thru 8.1:1

•    Jigs and big worms
•    Shaky heads
•    Texas rigs
•    Carolina rigs
•    Topwaters
•    Jerkbaits
•    Lipless crankbaits

If you’re fishing any lure that you primarily work with your rod, a high gear ratio reel is the way to go. You’re often pulling the bait with your rod tip, but you need to have the ability to quickly take up your slack when you get a bite. A fast reel also helps when fighting a big walleye—you need all the speed you can get in order to quickly pull it away from any line-fraying hazards.

Topwaters, jerkbaits, jigs, plastics and even lipless crankbaits warrant the use of a high speed reel. These techniques create a lot of slack in your line, and if you get bit 30 yards away from the boat, a high gear ratio comes in handy for getting a solid hookset.

Choosing the right gear ratio reel can be a bit confusing, but with some basic understanding of what the numbers really mean, it gets much easier to understand. When purchasing your next reel, try to keep things simple by remembering this simple gear ratio guide.

reels

 Left to Right: Abu Garcia MGX, Abu Garcia Revo SX, Lew’s Pro Team, Lew’s BB-1

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Bucktail Jigging For Weed Walleye

 3fbabdf5_hooks

When walleye head to the shade of the salad, or cruise along the edge of vegetation, a bucktail jig can be your greatest tool for seducing them to strike. Not only is the undulating hair a visual stimulant, but also the erratic cadence of the bait as it is ripped and jigged with vigor.  Working bucktails is a different game than with regular jigs, but the technique speaks for itself with the big results you’ll be rewarded with.

A standard bucktail jig is comprised of a lead head, with layers of bucktail tied and glued to the collar of the bait. Strands of tinsel are often interwoven, adding an additional aspect in terms of visual attraction. When moving, the hair forms a streamlined body, replicating a baitfish perfectly.   At rest the hair fans out, adding a different dimension in terms of appearance.  In comparison to a jig and plastic, the bucktail is far superior in terms of weedlessness, making them an excellent choice when the cover becomes thick and the walleye go into hiding.

The Laws of Rip Jigging

Rip jigging is a specialized technique that can produce astounding results.   The premise is simple:  flip a bucktail jig out twenty feet or so.   Let it make contact with the bottom vegetation, then give a quick and sharp snap of the rod, breaking the jig free from the snag and sending it up and above the cover. Repeat process. Depending on the mood of the fish, rips can be positively violent or more controlled.   You will find that the warmer the weather, the more aggressive you can be.

Walleye are an opportunistic feeder. They will conceal themselves in the thickest of   cover, waiting to ambush an unsuspecting baitfish as it swims by. Ripping a bucktail jig through the salad will easily get their attention (due to the   commotion it causes) and make them commit to the speedy meal before it gets away. Depending on the mood of the fish, they will either smack it as it breaks free from the green stuff, or rise to engulf it as it slowly falls back down. This is one technique that has worked well is the fall period. Fish will raise their activity level and feedbag at this time, and when the wind howls and the fish move shallow, you can definitely get into a bunch of them – BIG ones too! In terms of tipping options for rip jigging – go the route of none.   Minnows and worms won’t last long with the constant weed contact, and due to the speed of the retrieve (and split second reaction time),  it doesn’t makes much of a difference in terms of catch rates.

Dunking For Fish

Although it may seem unsuitable dunking the weed pockets for walleye is a tried and true technique. Shallow water and expansive weed flats make up the playing field for this tactic, and a stout rod and bucktail jigs round out the arsenal. Pounding depths between four and 10-feet is your best option, and clear water is always your best bet. Work weed flats and clumps with the wind or an electric motor, lowering a heavy bucktail jig into every hole and edge you drift over.  Let it sink directly to bottom, and give it a few lifts and drops before moving on. (leave the bait in each hole for at least ten seconds before trying the next.) Walleye will bucktailsituate themselves on these edges, both inside and out, pouncing on any bait that free falls into their lair. Visually, this is a fun and exciting tactic to employ, as most fish are actually observed sucking up the bait in the blink of an eye, and quickly charging back into the weeds! A lightening quick hook set and medium-heavy rod is recommended if you hope to put a net under the belly of any of them. Tipping your jig with a minnow or worm is an excellent choice for this short-line tactic, as the fish has more time to be convinced to strike, and scent can be a contributing factor for that.

Swimming Them In When walleye are scattered over weed flats, and the vegetation is low and uniform in height, swimming a bucktail jig back to the boat can be a hot ticket. The rules are simple: cast your bait out and start reeling in, keeping your jig just above the weeds, and imparting the odd lift or two into your retrieve. This will allow you to cover large areas of water, and help you pick off those fish that are actively cruising while feeding. Your presentation will resemble a minnow making its way along bottom, and an easy meal in the eyes of our yellow predator.

Top Ten Tips For Bucktail Fishing

1.  For clear water conditions, match the hatch when it comes to colour. Murky water requires brighter hues.
2.  Braided line gets the nod for working bucktails in the weeds.
3.  Check line regularly throughout the course of the day.
4.  Apply ample amounts of scent to the hair of the bait.
5.  Choose high quality jigs that sport strong and laser sharp hooks.
6.  In rough conditions, choose brighter colours that will aid in attracting fish better.
7.  Lighter jigs work better for swimming, while heavier jigs work best for ripping and dunking.
8.  Heavy equipment is key. This is no place for ultralight combos or low diameter line.
9.  Watch for line movement or “bumps.” This can often signal a fish.
10.  Take note of where fish are found. Then search for other areas on the lake that are similar in make up.

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PIKE Fishing Tips

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’ll love Northern Pike fishing! Pike are one of the easiest fish to catch on Wawang Lake. We call them ‘JAWS’ – the Water Wolf. The monster size pike are opportunists and they will eat just about anything you throw at them providing it falls right in front of those nose.

These feisty fish are best for fishermen who like fast action of any type spinner bait, top water, crank baits, etc. If it’s fun, fast action & lots of fish you’re looking for, then these are the fish you’ll want to target.

Where to Find Pike
Pike will be just about anywhere in the lake, so look for points, weeds and narrows. Look for structure that is adjacent to deep water since BIG northern pike feel secure with the safety of deep water nearby.  You will find these hogs hiding in the weeds, swimming in the narrows waiting for the opportunity of migrating fish and ready to ambush their favorite food perch and walleye. They also like to feed in the shallow weedy bays, on lake herring, minnows, leeches, crawfish or anything that moves. If you’re after the big guys, try fishing from point to point across the bays in deeper water. The bigger & older they are, the lazier they get. So they’ll be lying in the deeper pools & just off of the deeper side of weed beds & structure waiting for food to come to them. Also walleye are one of their favorite meals. So where ever you find schools of walleye there will be a few trophy pike close by.

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Techniques
When Pike are feeding aggressively, just about any technique will work well. When using spoons such as Dare Devils, Five of Diamonds, Johnson Weedless Spoons, etc. we like to cast right into the weeds, rip it back just to the edge of the weeds, then let it flutter down. This imitates a wounded bait fish & will drive them crazy. These fish can feel the difference in the vibration of a healthy bait fish & one that is injured. Remember, walleyes will hang out in the weeds as well. When using crank baits & spinner baits let them get down in the weeds. Bumping weeds & structure will trigger them as well. Top water baits such as Zora Spooks, Buzz baits, Stick baits & Jerk baits are a lot of fun. These are just a few techniques. There a many different techniques that will work great for Pike. In the heat of summer, you may want to slow your presentation down as they are not as aggressive as when the water temps are cooler. All in all, these fish will provide you with great memories & lots of action.

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Tackle & Rods
Avid pike fishermen like to feel the fight of a nice Pike on a medium light to medium action 6′ rod with 10 to 12lb line. For novice fishermen, you may want to go with a 6′ to 7′ medium to heavy action rod with 12 to 15lb test line. Use a 20 to 30lb quality steel leader at least 12″ long.  Very important: check & adjust your drag often. A trophy Pike will break your line in an instant while you are trying figure out what just happened. Any lure that you like to use for Bass will work very well for Pike: Spinner baits, Rapalas, Crank baits, Rattle traps, Spoons, Top water baits, etc. Usually bright colors work the best. We have found in darker water that the perch colored baits work very well. Red & white Daredevils, chartreuse, yellow 5 of diamonds, Johnson silver minnow spoons, etc. These are aggressive feeders so don’t be afraid to use just about anything you have in your tackle box. Remember, here in the river their favorite food is walleye so throw something dark green with a yellow or white belly at them. This is sure to get them feeding if all else fails.

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PIKE – Six Proven Lures To Use

White, yellow, and chartreuse are great pike lure colors, probably because they resemble the belly of a struggling food fish.

  1. IN-LINE SPINNER In early spring, before weed growth becomes a factor, focus on covering water. The bigger spinners are a top choice here because the weight lets you cast them farther and the blades throw more flash. Retrieve the spinner steadily, just fast enough to keep it off the bottom. Think Rooster Tail, Mepp’s, and Blue Fox spinners in 1/6- to 1-ounce sizes.
  2. SPOON Start by steadily and slowly reeling, just fast enough to keep the spoon wobbling. If that doesn’t produce, try a “flutter retrieve,” accomplished by imparting a jigging motion as you reel. Spoons are particularly effective along drop offs because you can precisely control the depth. Try Dardevles, Little Cleos, Thomas Buoyants, and Johnson Silver Minnows weighing ¼ to 1 ounce.

  3. 3. MINNOW-IMITATING PLUG Begin with a steady retrieve. If that doesn’t work, try stop-and-start reeling. Early in the season, use a shallow runner. As waters warm up, go to a crank bait or a soft-plastic swimbait that runs in the 10-foot range. You’ve got plenty to choose from here: the Rapala Original or Shad Rap, Rebel Minnow, Rattlin’ Rogue, C.C. Shad, Bomber Model A, Mann’s 1-Minus, and the Storm Wild-Eye Swim Shad.
  4. 4. SPINNERBAIT Draw a spinnerbait past sprouting weeds and stop the retrieve for a three count just as the bait approaches a possible hideout. Add a twist-tail or rubber-worm trailer for action and color contrast. Models abound. If I had to use only one pike lure, it would be a white spinnerbait with a trailer. If the water is a tall off-color, try a bait with a chartreuse skirt.

  5. JIG & a MINNOW or WORM As the temperature in the shallows reaches 60 degrees, pike begin to set up shop along 6- to 10-foot drop offs. These are best fished with a jig in full, 2-to 3-foot hops. Pike often take the jig as it drops; the strike may feel like a nibble or a perch bite. It’s not. Use bucktail and marabou jigs in the ¼- to1-ounce range.

  6. 6. SURFACE PLUG In late spring, fish top-water lures over weed beds in the calm water of morning or late afternoon. Over the years the combination of a slim minnow shape and propeller fuss has been most productive for me. Tie on a large (4½- to 6-inch) Jitterbug, Heddon’s Crazy Crawler or Dying Flutter, Storm Chug Bug, Smithwick Devil’s Horse, Sputter buzz, or Zara Spook.

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