Tag Archives: trophy fishing

15 Top Lures For Pike Fishing

When the stars align and the feeding window is open, a big  pike will hit anything that moves. Your bait selection doesn’t matter and all you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience this feeding-frenzy action once or twice a season. The rest of your time hunting trophy pike will be spent cranking, casting, and waiting. The right presentation will make the difference between a bite and a follow-up. So, don’t waste all of your effort pitching second-rate lures. Here’s our round up of the best pike fishing baits on the market right now.

Heddon Rattlin’ SpookPMlures_01The Spook’s renowned walk-the-dog style has long been a pike pleaser – especially over grass. The Rattlin’ model’s tungsten BBs emit an intense sound that mimics fleeing baitfish. These rattles also serve to enhance the bait’s walking retrieve. ($6.99,

Booyah Pikee

PMlures_02Strong and durable, this ½-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait boasts a tough Vibra-Flx wire frame that stands up to powerful jaws with lots of teeth. The Pikee comes with a 12-inch steel leader for added insurance against big biters. ($5.99,

YUM DingerPMlures_03
The 7-inch version of this flexible stickbait does a good job of presenting a baitfish profile for pike and musky. Rig the bait Texas style over weeds or wacky style when working open water. ($5.79,

Eppinger Daredevle SpoonPMlures_04a

The 00 size of this classic spoon has seen plenty of teeth mark, and for good reason. The wiggling, wobbling action puts out a lot of flash and vibration to resemble a fleeing baitfish. Trolled or cast, the Daredevle tempts pike and musky in a broad range of depths. ($9.70,

Blue Fox Super BouPMlures_05
Big on the visuals and big on fish-grabbing ability, the size 10 Super Bou imitates mature baitfish and sprouts double trebles to snare the toothy predators that seek them. Tandem blades, combined with Marabou, Hackle and Flashabou fibers create a lifelike undulating action, while the free-turning brass gear emits sonic vibration and rattles when it strikes the outer shell. ($21.69,

Mepps H210PMlures_06
There’s nothing modest about this heavyweight tandem spinner, but big muskies don’t do modest. Nine inches from eye to tail, the 3-ounce H210 emits big-time thump with its twin brass Indiana blades, while a bright 100-percent holographic tail is hand-tied to tandem 7/0 VMC cone cut hooks. ($39.80,

Suick Weighted Holographic Musky Thriller Jerkbait

The weighted version of the original Musky Thriller carries its unique shape and enticing wiggle deeper. Holographic finishes shimmer like real baitfish. ($27.70,

Tackle Industries Super D Swimbait

A whopping 14-inches long with its tail extended, this sturdy swimbait is built around a full Body Lock coil harness that keeps the soft plastic body in place, while connecting two underside trebles to the frame linked to jig head. The 5-ounce Super D counts down at about a foot per second. Jig it, jerk it or crank it; the Super D’s rocking motion and curly tail put on a big show for big muskies. ($13.99,

Mepps Double Blade Aglia (Size #5)

The popular Aglia design gains enhanced visual appeal, along with maximum sound and vibration from a second blade. Whether it’s flashing metallic blades or contrasting colors, the dual spinners provide added lift for fishing over weeds or other structure. Vividly colored hand-tied bucktails help make this bait easier for fish to spot. ($6.99,

Mepps Syclops (Size #3)

A real pike pleaser, this sleekly contoured spoon casts easily and trolls effectively at most any common speed. Jig it vertically over deep spots or through the ice. ($4.75,

Grandma Jointed Lure

An old-school classic, the flat body and jointed design yields a wobble and shimmy that drives big muskies crazy. When cast, the bait reaches 3-6 feet; trolled, it goes to 12. Made with high-impact plastic and a tough diving lip, a Grandma will withstand the fiercest attack from a toothy giant. ($17.99,

Northland Fishing Tackle Bionic Bucktail Jig

Hand-tied with genuine bucktail, this jig features a versatile double line tie that affords the option of vertical jigging deep water or casting and trolling shallow cover. A stinger hook secured to the jig’s Mustad Ultra-Point hook snares any short strikers. ($5.99,
Cisco Kid Topper

A torpedo profile body with stainless steel propeller blades on the nose and tail create a big topside disturbance that gets the fish looking in the right direction. Effective for pike and muskie, the Cisco Kid Topper works well at a variety of speeds. ($17.95,

Bass Pro Shops Thump N Deal Swimbait

Equipped with a pair of 4/0 short shank trebles, this big bait swims with a slight side-to-side wobble that can be altered by bending and adjusting the internal non-slip body harness. A steady retrieve works best, but an occasional pause or twitch can turn followers into biter. ($17.99,

Koppers Live Target Jointed Yellow Perch

Incredibly realistic body shaping, coloration and fishy detail makes this a hard bait for big predators to ignore. Effective for casting or trolling, the jointed body creates an erratic tail kick that closely mimics the swimming motion of a real perch.  ($12.99,



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Pike – Rods, Lures & Baits

Baitcaster_ComboCasting for northern pike should be done with a bait casting rod in the seven to eight foot range and fifty or sixty five pound test braided lines, like Power Pro or Tuf Line.  Carry spinning tackle in the same actions too. Seven strand wire and fluorocarbon leaders are obviously mandatory no matter what technique you’re using. In the spring you’ll be dealing with a lot of fish most days, and there’s almost always big ones to be had. A good leader that will hold up to a lot of abuse is very important. Use knotted Sea guar fluorocarbon in forty to sixty pound test. This stuff is durable, you can tie with it, and the average leader will outlast a wire one. Year in and year out, floating and suspending minnow baits are the go-to lure. Between about five and eight inches seems to be the best size range. In bad winds, larger, heavier, suspending baits like H12 Husky Jerk or Suspending Storm Thunder stick are easier to cast and control. When you’re working lures of this size in bad wind, braided line helps you control and feel the bait when it’s far from the boat and a big bow develops in your line. Plus, even little bumps or pops of your rod tip get transmitted right to the nose of the bait.

Floating minnow baits kind of fell out of vogue after everyone started making suspenders, but, baits that run high in the water and rise when you stop moving them can be magic at times. They’re tougher to cast in bad winds, but well worth the effort! Three of the best are:

  • Cordell’s Ripplin Redfin
  • Bomber Long A’s …… and the good old
  • #18 Original Floating Rapala.

Six to nine inch Suicks are great too, and like the #18 Rapala, they cast very well. You can use floaters and suspenders slowly, with lots of pauses, or fish them faster with more snapping and reeling.

Jigging and trolling are two options that consistently produce early in the year also. If you’re not doing well casting, try weaving along spots with a baited spinner rig behind a bottom bouncer, like a Northland Rock Runner.

During many of our springs we see our guests get the biggest pike trolling, and usually within five or six feet of the surface. We’ve seen poor days turned around simply by putting down the casting rods and putting the boat in gear. Using a depth finder + GPS combo will revolutionize the way you fish. Your speed control will improve and so will you knowledge of spots and how thoroughly you work them. Add in a digital map chip and it’s almost unfair!  A popular brand to use is the Lowrance electronics with Navionics map chips.

If you really want to slow down and pick apart good spots, jigging through waypoints, icons and trails is also effective. In or near moving water especially, pike will hang out with the walleye and suckers around deep holes, little slack spots or behind humps and other structures. Locking these spots down on your plotter and working them with a plastic or hair jig is time-consuming, but it works.  Spots near current really stack up fish of all kinds. Once you mark up a few, you can return again and again and find fish.  As the spring runs of walleye and pike tapered off, jigging the humps and seams just outside the rivers can be really productive on bigger fish. Having a good sonar really helps eliminate any downtime spent looking for my spots.

Along with jigging, fishing live or dead baitfish can be the only thing that produces sometimes.  Many have had the best luck doing this in the worst weather, when pike aren’t moving around much and inactive in general.   Fishing ‘meat’ also requires extra attention to your rigging and technique to make sure fish aren’t deeply hooked and injured.



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Tips: How To Work Three Top Pike Baits


Topwater Lures

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that is simply fascinating. The ever willing participants, pike are often eager to take a bait off the water’s surface because the presentation appears to them to be an easy meal.Here are three preferred topwater baits and tips on using them for pike.

Cigar, Or Walk-The-Dog, Lures

An all-time favorite topwater for pike is a walk-the-dog bait, such as Heddon’s Zara Spook or Rapala’s Skitter Walk.


Best fished with a stout baitcasting rod, you must impart a side-to-side swimming motion to the bait. Do this by twitching the rod tip down, then immediately raising it again. This causes the bait to jerk to the side. Raising the rod gives the lure slack line to pull as it glides. After a split-second pause, start another twitch to cause the bait to turn and glide in the other direction.   Continuous twitching results in side-to-side surface motion that causes a lot of commotion. The sight is often too much for pike to pass up.


A Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

To share some tips on using these baits, one effective   tactic is mixing up the tempo of the twitches throughout the retrieve.   Slowing it down or speeding it up often triggers hits. If a fish swipes at a bait, but misses it you can often get a pike to hit again. One method is prolonging the pause between twitches. After some practice you can get the bait to dance in the strike zone for a while. This conveys an injured and disoriented fish. Pike will often return to hit again with this tactic.

Another option is continuing the retrieve and then casting back over the area again.   I’ve lost count of the number of pike I’ve got on a follow-up cast after they missed the bait the first time.

Prop Baits


This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weedbed

These baits are easy to work. Simply cast out and reel it   in on a steady retrieve. The lure’s metallic tail spins as you pull it through the water. This prop appendage creates a plopping sound and leaves a wake on the surface. The steady rhythm and straight path make it easy for pike to hone in on. A word of advice when working these lures: don’t retrieve them too quickly. The best tempo is often a pace just fast enough for the blades to be continuously turning.

An alternative to a steady retrieve with these lures is   using a twitch-pause pattern. This is particularly effective for lures with blades in the front as well as on the rear. The metallic sputtering caused by the twitch is extremely effective at attracting pike.


Unlike the above lures, which often feature treble-hook clad models, buzzbaits are a single-hook lure. The up facing hook point makes a fairly weedless presentation. Buzzbaits have either metal or plastic blades   attached at one end of a wire form, which has a dressed hook at the lower end. These lures excel at fishing the shallow, weedy haunts pike frequently inhabit. I’ll cast them on the edge of lily pad bays, among sparsely growing rice or reed areas, and sunken wood zones. In fact, anywhere you think might hold pike are good places to cast buzzbaits. Bring it in on a fairly steady retrieve, but keep in mind twitches in the rod tip or changing the bait’s direction can trigger strikes.


When targeting pike with topwaters, remember that calm to slight ripple conditions are best. Don’t be afraid to try topwaters in small waves though because big fish often hunt in the turmoil caused by waves, and will still take surface lures. Pike are always surveying their habitat for easy meals; often, a topwater is one of the best lures to portray vulnerability. Not to mention that watching a northern hit a surface lure always gets the adrenaline flowing!



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Wawang catch

Think SLOWER SPEEDS for Spring Walleye Fishing – When spring finally arrives, it’s easy to fish too fast and instinctively, you may spray the water with casts and retrieve at break-wind speeds. The lure would spark if it weren’t for the water. Trouble is the walleye aren’t motivated to chase. They want to dine leisurely, to nibble.  They need to hang onto lures.

Before discussing ways to cancel out the walleye lethargy, it’s necessary to first observe on the “where.”

You see, not all lakes were designed with spring walleye in mind.  Certain undeniable characteristics make some bodies of water more qualified Having shallow sections in a lake is the first ideal characteristic. Lakes with sweeping shoreline zones – areas 15 feet and shallower – and maximum depth of 35 feet or less are favorable as well. They warm the fastest, especially if the water is stained and or loaded with sediments. Deep and clear lakes are out, too, at least for now. Save those for midsummer and fall. Walleye fancy certain structure on “spring-oriented” lakes as well. Sand and gravel bottoms are of interest, as are emerging greens. Patches of deceased bulrushes also attract fish, as they house baitfish and sprout from promising hard floors. Add streams and the protected northwest corner of the lake and you’ve got an enticing menu of starting points. know the spots. They’ve been historically proven. All one has to do is pitch a jig to the bottom and ready the landing net, right? Well…not always. To say the least, the lead-headed jig is the deadliest of all lures on spring walleye. They are and forever will be, but occasionally, conditions warrant the presentation of other styles, like spinner rigs, trolling crank baits, dragging live bait rigs, even supervising slip-bobbers.

RR-Slip-Bouncer-Cardbobbers are just what the walleye ordered in cold and sleepy springtime environments. Balsa puts the bait in just the right spot and holds it there, letting it swim, writhe, and tease. No chasing required. Bobbers also fish exceedingly well over obstructions, such as rocks and timber.  Weeds and moss bobbers provide the means to deliver bait continuously to a precise spot.

Rock piles offer a prime example such as; walleyes will pile into the windward flank of a wave driven reef; 90% of the fish might cling to 10% of the structure. In such instances, maintaining boat position is grueling, notwithstanding the evils trolling presents. Fish can get spooked if the hull passes overhead. Anchoring and pitching a slip-bobber is a far better option. Doing so yields control, as well as the opportunity to plant the boat strategically, never passing over the fish. Effective bobber fishing must also entail correct rigging.

Basically, there are two methods   for fixing-up a slip-bobber; the first includes a plain hook and the other is end-weighted with a jig. The second method is preferred, though, but oddly enough, is the least utilized. The end-weighted slip-bobber rig features a 1/32nd ounce jig with a long shank and wide-gap hook.

The Northland Tackle Gum-Ball Jig and Glo-Ball Jig are the best overall lures for this application. The jig achieves two objectives. For one, it, due do its shape and coloration, acts as an attractor, enhancing the bait’s inherent abilities. Secondly, the jig’s bodily weight holds the bait at the selected depth, yet is light enough to allow the bait some wiggle room. Too heavy a jig can render bait totally static. hotspot-splitshot-chartWeighted and painted hooks, which are lures in-and-of themselves, perform similarly. The insect-looking Northland Ghost Grub® is a perfect example. It carries a broad gap Kahle hook, making it marvelous for slipping walleyes. Unfortunately, though, a 32nd ounce jig alone isn’t massive enough to balance a walleye-sized bobber, let alone keep a larger and sprightly minnow at bay. So shot must be implemented, namely, Northland Hot-Spot Split Shot®. Pinch 1, 2, or 3 shot 6-inches to 18-inches above the jig. (How many and what size shot you use must be determined by first testing bobber buoyancy. Add or subtract shot until the bobber, with bait attached, rides just above the surface but isn’t easily swamped.) operate in chorus with the jig as a temptation, especially in stained water and during low light conditions.

super-glo-panfishkit-200pxThe Glo hook.  Again, the jig program is superior, since it presents a bigger and brighter target and keeps the bait in check, but when the bite’s light, an old fashioned hook is priceless. The size of the hook used is dictated by the type and dimension of the bait in hand. Sizes 2 and 4 live bait hooks match well with minnows; 2’s with shiners and other large minnows and 4’s with fatheads. Size 4 and 6 hooks are best suited for leeches. Shot spacing with a plain hook is the same as with a jig; build in 6 to 18 inches.

Once more, it’s prudent to tighten the gap in colored water and widen it when the water’s clear.  Setting depth is comparably as important as rigging. With an alligator-clip style depth finder affixed to the hook, slide the knot up the line until the float plunges 6 to 8 inches beneath the surface, which in reality means the bait will ride 6 to 8 inches off the bottom. Unless the bite dictates otherwise, shallow springtime walleyes operate tight to the bottom, so keep the goods low. How you present is a final consideration.
Every angler has a “foolproof” approach for setting a slip-bobber. Some guys choke down a cigarette before tightening down; others count, “one, one thousand…two, one thousand” etc. until reaching thirty or more, and then set. Along like some, the more anxious types that reef back at first sign the bobber has moved. Unless you’ve already established a personal, bullet proof process, try counting slowly to 3. With a sharpened hook, low-stretch line, 6 ½ foot or longer pole, and a sweeping but assertive hook set, that fish should soon be at boat side.

It’ll be tough to do. Changing ways is never easy by giving up the customary troll and power drift for an anchor for a different type of presentation.  When the walleye are located, and or their mood is subdued, nothing bests the bobber.




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EARLY SPRING: Pike Fishing

Spring fishing is some of the best of the year for northern pike, especially if you want to catch a big one! Here are some tips to help you score.

Very little compares with the gentle ebb and flow of the surface as you glide out over our fantastic northern fishing lake in the early springtime. Just knowing there are big pike somewhere in the depths gets the heart beating a little faster. This is the time of year for pike; right now is your best shot at tangling with trophy-class northern pike.

Understanding a bit of pike biology and how these razor-toothed predators relate to habitat during the post-spawn period is the key to success. Many waters are just opening up to anglers and the pike are ripe for the taking.

The first thing to know is that while pike are aggressive in the summer, they can be downright finicky while recovering from the rigors of spawning activity.

The second thing is that these “water wolves” aren’t always ravenous. Most pike begin feeding heavily when the water temperatures reach the 55- to 60-degree range and go into the spring feeding frenzy when it climbs to 65 degrees.

Spring may be the best time of the year to be on the water but some anglers still go home empty handed. If you’re wondering about the best way to tempt a big pike in the spring, here are some tactics that you can take to the bank.

graph-shoals-INFS-110026-WEATH-04aFind green vegetation and you’ll find pike. Submerged weeds that have wintered over and remained green are pike magnets. Developing bulrushes in shallow water hold their share of pike as well. Combine these features with deep water nearby and you’re on high-percentage spots.

Admittedly, several tactics work in the weeds as the water warms up but in the post-spawn period, finesse is the name of the game. Set the dinner table with offerings of slow-moving soft plastics that big northern pike just can’t resist.

Toss oversized plastic minnows, lizards, and grubs on 1/4- or 1/2-ounce jigs to the outside edges of the weeds. Green beds of cabbage and other long-stalked weeds in water 6 to 10 feet deep are ideal. Let the bait glide naturally to the bottom and rest for a moment before shaking it with your rod tip. Repeat the process as you lift and glide the bait along the outside edge. Anything that appears to be dying qualifies as a meal worth chasing as far as early-season pike are concerned. Plastics fished that way seldom get slammed and a little tick on the line may be all you’ll feel.

Soft baits also produce well in the old bulrush stalks that were broken off just below the water’s surface by the ice. Once the fresh growth begins showing above the water, pike move to the outside edges adjacent to sloping points, dropoffs, and breaklines.

Pike are addicted to submerged weeds and the deeper and thicker they are in the spring, the better.

Ticking the tops of developing green is another hot ticket for springtime pike:

Reel Dardevle spoons
floating Rapala Original Minnows
shallow-running Mepp’s

Magnum Muskie Killer in-line spinner’s
Spinner bait with Colorado blades just deep enough to bang the weed tops. Retrieve the bait at a steady speed for about two-thirds of the distance back to the boat and then give the rod tip a twitch or two. After that, pick up the speed. Northern pike sometimes follow a bait without hitting it, and the unexpected change can trigger a strike. Spoons have an added dimension of attraction. If a pike strikes and misses the spoon stop reeling and let it glide backward. The northern assumes the bait is injured and moves in to finish it off.

Target the bays, sloughs, and sections off the main current as pike aren’t particularly fond of moving water. If the weed beds are in current, cast from downstream and retrieve with the current. A shallow-running spinner bait or weedless spoon skims over the stalks and isn’t likely to foul.

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If you have to fish across the flowing weeds, try a heavy plastic worm rigged with the hook buried inside the worm body. Skim the bait across the surface and let it drop down into holes and gaps in the vegetation. Northern pike dart out of cover to make short work of such hapless-looking creatures.

Remember that weeds are important, but pike key in on variations of the vegetation theme. Shallow lake basins that harbor dropoffs, steep bars adjacent to weeded flats, and clumps of emerging weeds are the perfect places to try yet another spring tactic. The secret weapon here is the lipless rattle bait. Rattle baits cover lots of water quickly, tick the tops of weeds, and probe the deeper edge habitat. The combination of tight vibrations and quick wobbles pique the interest of pike and result in smash-and-grab strikes. Even lethargic pike get excited over the antics of a Rapala Clackin’ Rap or Daiwa Game Vibe Beauty.

Knockin’ the wood is a technique more commonly employed by bass anglers, but there are spring pike applications as well. When the weeds are sparse, northern pike move into woody tangles of fallen trees and docks where they border deep water. Timbered points and stump fields are a real draw. Getting a big pike out of that mess can be tricky, and so floating crank baits that cast accurately and can be danced through the wood are called for. Pike aren’t particularly fussy in the wood so just open the tackle box and use what you’ve got.

As the water warms, don’t be shy about banging the wood with a weedless Dardevle. Northern pike don’t seem to mind a lot of commotion and the louder the ruckus, the more interested they become. Pike ambush plenty of tough critters and a loud spoon isn’t going to intimidate them.

There’s a special place for Countdown Rapalas and similar controlled-depth baits. As the bigger northern begin to migrate out to weeded bars, flats, and break lines, cast or troll from 10 to 20 feet down. Pike in the 30-inch-plus range can almost be classified as cold-water fish with temperature preferences down to 50 degrees. To reach these fish you’ll have to go deep. Fish finders are invaluable during this period.

Occasionally, you’ll have to think outside of the box in order to catch pike in the spring. Pike are recovering not only from the stresses of spawning, but from a depleted pantry as well. These top predators can eat creatures up to a third of their own length; due to a aggressive temperament and a rumbling stomach, pike will attack baits up to 8 or 9 inches. Toss muskie baits as large as a Storm Thunderbeast or a 10-inch plastic grub into holes in the vegetation and slowly drag them over developing weed tops. Give a big northern time to size up your offering. Ignore the chuckles from your fishing buddies when you tie on a whopper-sized bait. You will get the last laugh.

Angler preferences toward fishing gear vary considerably, but the fact remains that fighting big pike requires medium-heavy to heavy gear with muscle. Fast-action tips to cast lighter lures are OK, but heavier rods are needed for heavy baits. A good rule of thumb is to use a rod in the 7-foot range for maximum control. Spool reels with 25- to 40-pound monofilament or an equivalent super line. Strong leaders are required equipment. A pair of needle-nosed pliers for hook removal is a given to avoid teeth that can easily shred a finger.

The best spring pike tactic is the one that happens to be working at the moment. Experiment with a variety of baits and presentations in good habitat and it won’t be long before you’re on the money.



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The Benefits of Early Spring Fishing

Fishing for walleye early in the spring offers two undeniable benefits – the fish can be fairly easy to find, at least compared to other times of the year, and the fish can be the biggest you’ll catch all year. Do you need any other reasons to fish in the spring just as soon as the weather will let you?

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Walleye fishing can sometimes be a tough proposition at other times of the year. But after ice-out, the biggest fish with the most advanced metabolisms begin to stir first, and that means big hens that have been forming up their eggs over the winter. “Pre-spawn fish can be the easiest of the year. Basically, that’s because the bigger females are starting to stage, starting to go into their spawn patterns.

Deeper water in the spring usually means looking for fish in 15 to 35 feet of water.  They’re feeding when they can, but they’re not feeding as much as they do in warmer water.


So, you’re concentrating your search out and away from, but in proximity to, places where the walleyes will eventually spawn. Deep water close to a gravelly shoreline, for example, or deep water adjoining a hard-bottom reef or island with a gravel shoreline, are all good places to start looking in lakes.

Pre-spawn and spawn periods vary according to how far north you are. In northern waters, walleyes need warming water temperatures to mature their eggs. Water in the mid-40 degree range is about when they start the spawn proper, so pre-spawn is taking place in that period when the water is less than that ideal spawning temperature.

Spring methods
Methods that work in the spring aren’t all that difficult to figure out, either. Keep in mind that the water temperature is still low, producing somewhat sluggish, lethargic fish. That means you have to fish slowly and deliberately, really working over an area and being patient and fishing slow.  You really have to change your methods to match the water temperature.  That means using smaller baits and slowing down your presentation. Take it easy a little bit. Even the active, bigger fish are lethargic.


The recommended method for this time of year is vertical jigging. Use a short, 6-foot, medium-action rod with a fast-action tip for sensitivity but with plenty of backbone for bigger fish, spooled with 8- to 10-pound-test line. It’s a slow presentation and when you get bit, a lot of times you’ll only feel the slightest tap, even from a 10- to 12-pound walleye. Sometimes it just feels like a little bit ofa added weight. What’s happening is they’re coming up and inhaling the lure.”

A favorite lure is a Jiggin` Rap chrome/blue, or a Swedish Pimple. Tie the lure with a duo-snap, and then, 18 inches up, attaches a ball-bearing barrel swivel.  Use a swivel because what you’re doing is vertically jigging and letting the bait rest.  Jig it, and let it settle for five to 10 seconds. Then jig it again. The barrel swivel prevents line twist and imparts so much more action to the bait at rest.

Time of day?
Does it matter when you fish in the spring, in terms of the time of day?  Not really. Spring fish can be active at just about anytime, from dawn to dusk. Time of day and light penetration or the warmest parts of the day versus the coldest parts of the day seem moot, because most of these fish are going to be deep anyway. As our guests can testify they’ve taken BIG fish and limits of fish at all times of the day.

What can play a role, of course, are currents. Current is obvious on a river system, but it can be less obvious on a lake system but still present, particularly on reservoirs with an inflow and outflow that can be pretty heavy in the spring. Slack areas with deep water around points, islands, reefs and shoals can be real hotspots at this time of year.


Perhaps more critically, incoming currents can highlight areas where walleye are heading later to spawn, and by fishing off these areas now, you’ve got a good shot at finding pre-spawn fish.  This would include our spring-fed outlets.

“Most of the lakes have an inlet and outlet, have at least some place or places that are a current source. On a lot of systems, walleyes go up those places to spawn, a big walleye factory. They’ll make their spawning runs up creek arms. At pre-spawn, they’ll be just off those areas, staging. Look for any place with an influx of current, and fish off of it to find the pre-spawn walleyes.

Spring can produce some astonishingly big fish. The bigger females can add a couple of pounds purely with the weight of their eggs.  The further along they get toward maturity and spawning, the bigger their weights.

Vertical jigging a top spring method
Walleye love a trolled crank bait, stick bait or worm harness. But in the spring, trolling may be just too fast for big, lethargic walleye to respond. That’s where vertical jigging really comes in to play.c

bJigging allows you to fish slow, thoroughly working an area, putting your jigged offering right on their noses and tempting them to move an inch or two, flare their gills, and inhale what’s in front of them.

Top choices include jigging spoons, roundhead jigs with bait (minnows, leeches or night crawlers), Whistler jigs and even blade baits. “Rest” your jig on the bottom in intervals of 5 to 10 seconds, and jig with an easy motion, not too fast. The strike can be very subtle – just added weight or the jig stopping – so stay on your toes.



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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.

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.

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.

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.

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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