Finally spring!! Time to get out of our dens, wipe off the dust from kayak and fishing gear if you were hibernating through the winter or you live in the country where fishing season starts in April and get ready for coming pike season opening.
Pike beautifully harmonized its biorhythm with the spring, having a spawn period just passed, so it’s hard to imagine better start of the season than to go for some pike spinning. Early season can be very rewarding, because „mammas“are still lurking in shallow water in their spring time habitat before water gets warmer, so don’t miss it.
Northern Pike or Jack in America and Canada is a top predator, aggressive and well known for even cannibalism tendencies. They are typical ambush hunter, being able to hold still for hours hidden in the cover before darting into pray.
It lays eggs in shallow water, preferring weed beds and vegetation. Pike spreads their eggs onto vegetation, where they stick to and stay there for 2 weeks before hatching. Interesting fact is that newly hatched pike has a sticky patch on its head which they use to attach to a vegetation when resting after feeding till they grow more resilient. Except providing a cover, dense vegetation provides abundance of food.
Although pike, both male and female do not guard and take care of their eggs and the small ones , after spawning they still occupy those spring, shallow weedy spots and covers, waiting for an easy meal to replenish their energy recovering from spawning and absorbing warmth from the sun that makes shallow spots warmer and attracting a bait fish.
With that in mind, nice, sunny and calm days will be best bet to find pike in this spots. Mid day in the afternoon will be better than early morning because sun will have more time to make water warmer and to attract fish with its heat.
With all that said spring pike fishing sounds easy,(sometimes it is) but although can be very rewarding it can also be frustrating at times. Pike in early spring is lethargic comparing to the aggressive period later in the spring and summer when water warms up and when she will jump on everything that moves, even frogs, small rodents, and small birds. Because of that and unpredictable weather in Spring where even slight variations in air and water temperature and water level can produce days when there is no sign of pike and going home empty handed is not unusual. It also depends on water you fish and the location, so have in mind specific conditions of your fishing water.
I started this Pike season on its very beginning, April 1st. On the water I fish the most during the year, bigger river, it’s been a very slow start, inactive fish almost completely, but this is often the case on that water. On smaller shallow lakes it’s easier to find fish and the water warms up faster than big river so fishing at those places usually makes season start easier. At least that’s my experience where most of the time I fished small closed waters lure selection usualy wasn’t such a deal and the fish was much more aggressive. Of course, you can’t expect to find a really big size fish in those types of water, but it can be ton of fun after a long winter brake because of much more fish I could catch on those waters.
On the other hand when you deal with conditions of inactive, lethargic fish going slow with presentation is crucial. It’s almost that you have to throw a lure directly into pikes mouth, searching through every cover, weed spot and leave it long enough in the hit zone to provoke the attack. Other really important tool you must have is patience. Best success with inactive fish like that I had with soft baits and suspending hard baits.
It’s not that I don’t like casting spoons and spinners, one of the best lures I caught the most pike with during the rest of the year is a big in line spinner with red bucktail, but when things get nasty nothing can beat hard lures, stickbaits, with its possibility of slow presentation, twitching, pausing and staying in the strike zone or softbaits with their action even with really slow speed retrieving and possibility of covering all water layers while trying to find a fish, jigging possibility and direct presentation behind covers and obstacles.
My hardbait collection of old Storm Thundersticks, Rogue Smithwicks and Rapala Husky Jerk are the ones I use the most when trying to find pike in shallow spots over the weeds. Their action and above said qualities makes them a good lures for inactive fish when good presentation is really important. After a few twitches you can just leave them hanging on the edge of water lily weed bed in the strike zone. They do not cast as far as newer lures, but with a good setup more than enough and fishing from kayak makes every spot reachable anyway.
When going deeper, fishing under and around of obstacles or not sure where the fish is than I like using soft lures which give a lot of action even with small weight and slow presentation. There are many to choose from, different types of grubs, shads and paddle tail minnows. Storm, Savage gear and Berkley is what I usually experiment with, lots of good ones to choose from, , So-run Makan minnow and 360 GT from Storm , Reel eel from Savage gear and Hollow minnow from Berkley are mostly used, but list is endless. Of course there is always some Mister Twister Curly tail grubs, I just like old school classics.
On this water with a lot of obstacles, sunken trees and situations where I might be forced to move the fish away from the cover as fast as possible I use my all round 10 ft, 60g.Sportex Carat Spin 3 rod for heavier applications, 300 size reel spooled with Suffix 30lb and a short kevlar leader. I really like this rod, has ton of strength and it has never let me down from the shore or boat fishing, but for spinning from kayak I find it too heavy and has to be replaced soon.
For the end a short video of my pike season opening. After hours of paddling, trying different terrain types, scouring through all the obstacles and sunken trees and trying dozen different lures I got rewarded on a hard day where nobody caught anything. What made a difference is ……patience. Even though at times I was in despair, even casting on the places I would hardly be able to take the fish out from the cover just to get a „bite“, not giving up paid off.
Hope you season start was less painful.