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SPINNING FOR PIKE

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The #5 Mepps’ steady throb pulsed through the 30-pound Spiderwire, down the length of the medium/heavy-action graphite rod and directly into his hand. Just as the lure reached the edge of the cabbage weeds, the blade’s thrum came to an abrupt halt.   He set the hook hard into what felt like a concrete wall!   But then the wall began to move, and he knew he was into a trophy. Five minutes later and four desperate boatside runs, he lands the 20-pound northern pike.

IT’S SIMPLE:  Big pike LOVE spinners!

Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves.

The Baits
Spinner choices abound, but not all are created equal when it comes to enticing jumbo “scissorbills.” The angler should select certain sizes, shapes, and colors, over others.

szczupak-pospolity-80704Lesson No. 1 in choosing spinners for Esox lucius: bigger always is better. Pick magnum-sized offerings as even hammer-handles attack huge lures with abandon, and to catch true monsters, you MUST have that big profile.

Fat, deeply cupped blades throw out big vibrations that ring the dinner bell for monster pike. While sometimes thinner shaped blades (such as willow-leafs) that spin faster turn the trick; usually the slower-turning Colorado-type blades prove to be the ticket to a pike bonanza.

Because big flash stimulates lunkers, polished silver and gold blades work great. Another killer color combo, especially for use in darker, stained water, is orange blades with a black trailer.

In-Line vs. Offset Spinners
Spinners for northerns come in two basic designs, and both work effectively, but each has its strengths and weaknesses.

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In-line spinners (such as Mepps, Worden’s Lures Rooster Tails, Panther Martin, and Blue Fox’s Vibrax), with their terminal trebles, have higher hook-up and catch rates than their safety-pin brethren, but they also hook vegetation and other underwater structure, too.

But lures such as Terminators and Stanley Jigs’ Rick Clunn 4-Blade Willow Spinnerbaits, with their single, upturned hooks surrounded by manmade skirts, slither through the weeds, logs and stumps. In-lines also cast like bullets, while offsets can catch the wind and lose momentum.

Line, Leaders
Any of the new “super-lines” such as like Berkley FireLine, Spiderwire Fusion, or Remington’s Power-Lokt, are superior to monofilament for spinning pike angling. Their low stretch and high-abrasion resistance benefit pike anglers.

Flout the convention and tie on a snap/swivel instead of a leader. Leaders inhibit action and deter wary trophies, while the snap swivels provide two major benefits: quick lure changes and eliminating/reducing line twist. True, you’ll lose lures to the razor-sharp choppers of aggressive mounters, but you’ll get lots more bites without leaders!

Speed & Delivery
Often northerns will attack even jet-powered offerings, but slowing down, pausing, or herky-jerkying that spinner, especially when it reaches the “Pike Zone,” reaps big rewards. Even lazy fish will smash a spinnerbait dangled in front on their out-sized mouth.

Always cast beyond where you think the pike lurk, because while “scissorbills” are legendary for their aggressiveness, they don’t like being bombed. Landing a bait on top of one’s head will likely result in spooking it.

Spin-Crazy Times & Spots
Primetime for driving pike spin crazy depends upon the season, time of day, and prevailing weather conditions. Early spring, right after ice out, brings spawned out northern pike shoreward (where they’re most vulnerable). Spinner rigs elicit savage strikes from hungry pike during spring.

Because northerns sight-feed, mid-day piking makes sense. Following that logic, clear, blue-sky days with lots of sun create perfect pike angling weather.

spinner-bait-diagramThe spinner’s flash and large profile, easily visible to cruising whoppers, prove irresistible.

Look for incoming streams or rivers, and concentrate your efforts just off the edges of weedy drop-offs. Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy, as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves. Position the boat on the deep side of the drop-off, and cast the spinner up onto the flat itself, cranking just fast enough to keep the lure above the weeds, and pause when you get to the weed edge. Allow the bait to drift down and find the waiting lunkers, and hang on!

Using spinners to drive northern pike stir crazy is fun, easy, and productive.

Contact us for your next MONSTER PIKE Fishing Trip!

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PIKE Fishing Tips

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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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Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

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

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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.

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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.

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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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Top Lures For Early Season Pike

With spring, thoughts of hefty pike in shallow water dance through anglers’ heads. Fresh from the spawn, pike will be found in specific locations and can be caught with a variety of lures.

At that time of year, the fishing can be fast and furious, monster pike are more than willing to entertain you with a game of tug-of-war. Jump-start your fishing season by tangling with the mighty “water wolf,” and be prepared for some of the best fishing you can imagine.

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

Searching the shallow bays on your favorite lake will be the key to finding post-spawn pike. Make sure the area you are concentrating on has a variety of cover — be it weeds, logs or stumps — and is between the depths of 2 feet and 6 feet. Finding an area like this has pike written all over it, although your next step will be deciding what to throw at them.

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

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

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

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

topwater3There are a number of topwater baits on the market that are suited to early season pike and have worked well for me over the years. The buzzbait is a top choice due to the large silhouette it provides and the surface commotion it exhibits. Fish this bait with a steady retrieve and be prepared to hold on tight. A stinger hook may be necessary for those fish that strike short or blow up on the bait.

 

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

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

spoonsProven spoon picks are the Red Devle Dardevle, Five of Diamonds, Red Eye, Blue Fox, Original Doctor, Johnson Silver Minnow, and many of the Williams Wobblers’ line of baits. Experiment with different weights, and thickness of bodies, in order to establish those that have the most desirable motion and action in the water, and which ones the pike show a preference to striking.

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

Head to Wawang Lake this spring and have a tussle with the mighty “water wolf.” The fishing will be fast and exciting and the eagerness of the pike to strike will have you returning year after year.

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Spoon Styles for PIKE

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Pickled Northern Pike

Pickling is a quick, easy way to prepare northern pike for year-long enjoyment, particularly when accompanied by crackers, mustard and a strong  Ale.

Other fish can be used here, but pike works the best. Be sure to freeze the fillets to be used for a minimum of 5 days prior to pickling – this helps to kill cysts that may be present in the meat.

Pickled Pike Ingredients

5 pounds of pike, chunked
2.5 cups of canning salt
1 gallon of bottled water
1 quart distilled vinegar
5.5 cups of sugar
4 teaspoons pickling spice
1 cup dry white wine
1 onion cut into pieces

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In a plastic container dissolve the 2.5 cups of salt in the gallon of bottled water and add chunked fish. Refrigerate for 48 to 72 hours. Remove fish and rinse in cold water. Cover fish with white vinegar for 24 hours and refrigerate.

Remove fish from vinegar and pack in jars with pieces of onion. Cover with the following solution.

–1 quart distilled vinegar
–5 1/2 cups sugar
–4 teaspoons of pickling spice
–1 cup dry white wine

Bring all ingredients to a boil except the dry wine. When solution has cooled add the dry white wine and cover fish. Seal with lids that have been scalded. Refrigerate at least one week before eating.

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Early Spring Trophy Pike

Wawang pikeScouting for pike
Cattail bays may hold fish but last year’s weed is a better spawning habitat and more easily functions as a good place for pike to spread their eggs and offers a high degree of protection after the hatch has begun.

The ambient air and water temperature will dictate the degree of hunting that pike may pursue during the spawning phase. Experience has shown that a mid, to late afternoon bite is the norm in these very early seasonal conditions.

Scouting in the evenings or early morning pays dividends in huge pike. Map out several good bay’s and creek arms noting the best wind direction for fishing each individual area. Many times the wind will change direction cooling a bay and sending the pike off to hunt for warmer waters nearby.

By scanning the water you can actually see large black shadowy hunters slowly moving through the water!

Equipment options
For shore casting baits use the long  predator rod such as a St. Croix equipped with a good spinning or baitcast reel in order to make long cast’s with larger baits with relative ease and precision.

A favorite rod and reel is the 11 foot ABU Boron graphite ABS 110-3M 20-60g #3 F-11 (913971) rigged with a Shimano Baitrunner 6500 reel.

The long rod allows you to make effortless cast with float or slip rig and also aids in fighting a big fish from heavy cover or steering the fish away from big trouble like logs or brush.

The Shimano Baitrunner reel is a great tool for bait fishing situations. Well engineered with two separate smoothly operating individually adjustable drag systems. One is the main drag and the other a running drag designed to allow for a fish to take the bait with the least amount of resistance and run.

The running drag is adjustable and easily activated by a flick of a lever after you have made your cast.

After a strike and the fish is on the bait and into a run you simply begin the retrieve and this disengages the running drag while simultaneously engaging the main fighting drag.

Line choice is a personal preference thing, but as long as it is Berkley XT or Big Game, you should be all right. Abrasion resistance is the key factor to consider in your personal choice. A little stretch is a good thing on these bruiser pike, no stretch may lead to hooks pulling free on a thrashing head shake bank or boat side.

Rigging for bait pike

Mood dictates an appropriate presentation, and in this case bait choice too. Live baits do work well, such as 6-12″ white suckers, but dead baits offer more appeal to hungry cold pike.

Fresh water frozen smelt and herring has consistently proven to be the right bait under these conditions.

These oily baits secrete a scent trail that triggers a pike to feed readily when live bait is greatly restricted in appeal to action.

Since the water temperature is not far from freezing, action presentations is a low percentage game at this point in time.

In conditions were the temperature is rapidly and steadily rising crank baits such as:

  • Salmo Whitefish SW 13 SX BS
  • Salmo S-12 Sting
  • Count Down Rapala #11
  • Rapala Husky # 13 Jerk

Fan casting crankbaits over mud flats can be a very effective method of covering ground and locating active pike plus the action can turn explosive if the pike are on the feed.

An abundance of food may increase pike feeding activity but a glut of forage will often make bait sets a low percentage game becoming lost in the crowd of available food.

Slip Rigs
Two basic bait rigs work well under most pre-spawn conditions, the slip float rig, and the bottom slip rig. The slip float rig is much the same as others you may have used in past months while ice fishing. A float set to slide from the leader section to a point where a stop bead and slip knot has be placed allowing ease of casting and depth control. The big difference is size, these floats will need to suspend a bait that may exceed 1 ½ lb’s, such as a large sucker minnows.

The 6-8″ long 5/8″ diameter Styrofoam pencil style slip float is a good choice as it can be weighted to alow for differences in bait and can be pulled under with little effort thus not spooking a wise old pike.

“Thill” floats in the 4-6″ cigar style makes for an excellent choice in springtime conditions. They offer a high amount of buoyancy combines with a minimal overall size but yet enough weight to make casting less cumbersome in wind.

images514NWBCLAdding Flash
A crafty option that is new to the pike game is the addition of flash to a suspension rig above the bait to entice a pike into the bait offering hanging below.

One ideal flash rig is the Mack’s smile blade Flash Lite system. The Mack’s smile blade is innovative in that the construction of the blade is such as to be adjustable while extremely light in weight so it will turn emitting a flash in a 360 degree radius with as little as a ½ mile an hour push upon its reflective surfaces.

This can easily be achieved by the slightest wind or currents producing a bobbing motion to stimulate the Smile blade and trigger a pike.

The Flash Lite blades are rigged on a steal leader with a high quality snap on one end and an equally high quality swivel on the other. This can be easily added to a quick strike leader below a float to produce additional attraction and bite off protection when the need arises.

Individual blades can be pre-rigged on leaders if a more subtle flash is desired. Originally designed for trolling scenarios they are extremely effective with live and dead bait presentation.

Leaders
Leader choice for both the suspension rig and the bottom set rig should be constructed from quality leader materials; such as Bait Rig’s Quick Strike rig or a Titanium leader.

Longer the better is the thing to remember as bite offs and high abrasive conditions will raise havoc on the first 3 foot of leader or line above the bait itself.

Hooks
Quality hooks are a must, hooks such as Partridge Vb quick strike hooks, 6 o/t circle hooks and a stinger, or Excallaber treble hooks.

Preferred is the Partridge Vb.’s or the circle hook and a stinger as they will not harm a fish as much and a released fish shows less stress, wear, and tear.

Dead baits should be thawed prior to use or they tend to float up. On a bottom set rig frozen may be advantageous, but not so on a suspension rig.

Proper hook placement on these jumbo baits is crucial to insure a good hook up.

The head should be hanging downward on a suspension set. Place the first hook in the bait just above the tail and the bottom hook at the base of the head. A helpful hint is to carry a bag of small dental bands to aid in holding the bait to the wire leader while casting.

One band worked over the first hook and placed about midway between the first and second hook will greatly help prevent bait loss on long hard casts.

Bottom slip set rigs are much the same as the float rig with the addition of an egg weight just above the leader to hold the bait in position.

Welter Group

Spring proves to be very rewarding for the Welter group – first timers fishing Wawang Lake

Bait set placement
Putting this all together we know to look to creeks feeding into bays to locate pike. Look also for likely runs that hunting pike may follow with careful consideration given to inside corners and points.

Large mud bays are a crapshoot so just get the bait out there and see if they cruise on by. You can up your odds by studying our lake map carefully noting where creek channels brush up against shoreline areas, flooded timber, or brush.

Often these old creeks are like highways to pike moving in and out of bays, most certainly a high percentage area worth staking out and making a few sets.

Necked down areas funneling into creek runs is a choice location and should be sought out if available. Suspension rigs in these areas may be best run high off the bottom.

If the estimated depth of the creek is 8′ set the bait at 4′. Many of these huge old pike ride mid water column as they cruise the bays and channels.

A good plan is to mix it up, one high, one low, and be sure to experiment. This flexibility will pattern their preference much faster and up your odds considerably in landing that trophy pike of your dreams.

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Slot Size
The slot size for northern pike in Wawang Lake is:

  • All pike 27 ½” must be released back into the lake
  • Sportmen’s License: 4 northern (under our slot size) in possession at all times
  • Conservation License: 2 northern (under our slot size) in possession at all times

Guests are welcome to eat as many pike under our slot size while at the lodge and providing they are within their possession limit. Guests are also welcome to take their limits home as well.

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