Over the many years I’ve chased pike in Superior, there have been a lot of different lures used. Pike will hit just about anything given the right situation. However, when I think about the basic presentations that are always on deck the five that come to mind are these: spinners (in-line and safety pin), weedless spoons, casting spoons, topwater and soft plastics. Let’s look at each technique.
Spinners shine when the water is warming and pike are more active. Pike find spinners irresistible and even when the water is cold, a spinner can be strong medicine for big fish. One of my favourite presentations is a #4 or #5 silver bladed Mepps Aglia matched with a white four-inch twister. I generally replace the single treble with a large 4/0 single Siwash hook and run the twister up the shank. This presentation has been the undoing of many pike, including a 47-inch beast giant that ate the spinner in shallow, weedy water. Coloured blades such as fire-tiger have certainly taken many pike over the years, as have dressed trebles. Safety pin spinners work wonders where the is a lot of weed and reeds, as they slip through the junk better than an in-line spinner. A 5/8 ounce or one ounce safety pin spinner in white or chartreuse is a proven pike slayer. A three or four-inch twister on the main single hook adds some wiggle.
Weedless spoons are so basic, but so deadly for spring pike. The way a weedless spoon can flutter through shallow cabbage and reeds is perfect for pulling the big gators out of their lairs. The Johnson Silver Minnow is the standard bearer and is a proven performer. However, Eppinger has some very fine weedless spoons that feature the classic red and white paint job. Rapala and Fishtrap also make quality weedless spoons, among other companies. Like the spinners, a weedless spoon is a cast and reel presentation. A steady retrieve allows a pike to get a bead on the spoon and plan its ambush accordingly. Once again, the addition of a three-inch white twister or rubber worm on the hook of the spoon has proven its worth over the years.
Finally, any number of plastic baits, fished Texas- rigged or whacky style, will catch the heck out spring pike. Plastics may be the very best way to catch pike in all conditions. I’ve seen worms catch spring pike when they won’t even look at hardware. Yet they can also slay when pike are super active and chasing everything. A big reason for this effectiveness is the subtle nature of plastic. A plastic bait generally hits the water with little fanfare. Pike in shallow water are spooky, and the less a lure sounds like a bomb being dropped on their heads the better. Plastics also can be scent impregnated and pike have a good nose. Then there is that nice squishy feel when a pike eats a plastic bait. From what I’ve seen, once a pike commits to plastic, it eats and hangs on. This is a huge bonus for the angler.
If there is a down-side to plastics, it is the hooking percentage. Despite the large hook, pike get off plastics more than I like. Whacky wormed plastics tend to have a better hook up than Texas rigged but I prefer the swimming motion of the Texas rig plastic shad or large worm. As for colour, my favourites are pink, chartreuse and white. All three provide high visibility in all but the most stained water. Pink, for reasons only known to the pike, is the colour that works when nothing else will.
RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Northern Pike Facts
For sheer thrills and the most outrageous strikes ever, you really can’t be fishing topwater. Pike are not the best aims sometimes, but you haven’t really lived until you’ve had three-foot pike torpedo into the air after a floating lure. There are a wide variety of topwater lures you can use and all have their charms. The larger sizes of the Rapala Skitter Pop and Skitter Prop are both deadly. These lures require a little action to make waves on top, but they generally get pike attention. The Zara Spook has a different action, and requires a retrieve often called “walking the dog.” To achieve this action, you stroke the rod tip towards the water on the retrieve. The spook will then do a zig-zag action. Other topwater baits include the Hula Popper, Skid-Stik and the Chug Bug. When a pike takes a topwater, you will know it.
For many people, this spoon game is the only game. There is no doubt that the Eppinger Daredevle spoon in red and white is the lure most associated with pike. When northern are biting and tucked along weed edges and cover, a big flashy spoon is tough to beat. Other great spoon include the Len Thompson five of diamonds, Aqua Spoon and Lucky Strike Half Wave. The spoons for pike don’t have to be huge, but I’d recommend carrying a few different sizes. A four -inch spoon will cover most situations but I’ve seen smaller spoons work very well in cooler water.
Always use a steel leader when pike fishing, no matter what lure you use. Don’t cheap out on leaders. Use leaders that have a solid clip that won’t straighten out on a big fish.
Finally, if you are going spring pike hunting, be prepared to handle them properly. Pike are big, toothy critters and you need the right tools to unhook and handle them. Bring two pairs of jaw spreaders, as they seem extra prone to being dropped in the lake. Nearly half the pike I handle require jaw spreaders to unhook. It is a good for neither fish or angler to try and get at a deep hook removed without spreaders. Long nose pliers, side cutters, a first aid kit and a good slime towel are also very helpful. Use caution when handling pike, as they can turn a boat upside down.
Pike fishing can provide some of the most intense, and arm wrenching fresh water angling imaginable. Superior Country has some of the very best pike fishing opportunities in the world.