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Who’s fired up for spring pike fishing?


The Baron

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We’ve had a very mild winter, so I’m expecting the ice to be out very early even in the smaller back lakes.  Ontario fishing Zone 17 is open year round for pike because they’re considered invasive and a threat to what used to be a healthy musky population.  So, my hope is to make a couple day trips and get in the water there, chasing spring pike by the time we turn the calendar page to April. 🤞🏻😎

 

I’m getting geared up with a bit heavier rod (St. Croix Bass-X 7’11” Heavy/Moderate-Fast) and a Chronarch 201E6 6.5:1 reel to throw some bigger swimbaits/jerkbaits/ploppers.  My usual bass gear will be used to throw some upsized chatterbaits and spinnerbaits. 
 

Who else will be targeting spring pike?  What’s your gear setup?

 

 

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1 hour ago, The Baron said:

Who else will be targeting spring pike?

 

I will not be targeting northern pike, but I can guarantee you I'll be catching plenty of them.  And most of them will be the small aggressive snot rocket variety that wreck lures.

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20 minutes ago, gimruis said:

 

I will not be targeting northern pike, but I can guarantee you I'll be catching plenty of them.  And most of them will be the small aggressive snot rocket variety that wreck lures.

Saw this one coming a mile away, LOL.

I was even tempted to post it for you but 

I'm right there with you though. 

However sometime around mid May 'schools' of the little rig wreckers invade a couple of flats I fish regularly.   I get all wired up and feed them their favorite chartreuse square bill. (Well it used to be, there ain't much paint on it at this point) Over and over.

I will whale a significant number of them for one full morning.   Every other cast type deal just to get it out of my system.  I call it Pike day and it's when I am seeking a years worth of revenge.

And I know you know exactly what I mean.

😃

A-Jay

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, gimruis said:

 

I will not be targeting northern pike, but I can guarantee you I'll be catching plenty of them.  And most of them will be the small aggressive snot rocket variety that wreck lures.

 

haha.  Yes, we deal with those year round.  Nothing makes my smile turn upside down quite like getting less than a day into using a Jackhammer or a MB Vision 110 and seeing that rod unload in an all too familiar way. 😒

 

My revenge will be the nice cold water spring pike fillets in the freezer - they make great fish tacos. 🌮👍🏻

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1 minute ago, The Baron said:

My revenge will be the nice cold water spring pike fillets in the freezer - they make great fish tacos.

I agree, the smaller ones actually are decent eating out of cold water.  Assuming you can filet them properly and remove the y bones.  I'm not very proficient at that.

15 minutes ago, A-Jay said:

Every other cast type deal just to get it out of my system. 

Been there, done that. :happy-102:

I've seen some of your pike photos, and every once in a while you pile into a sizable one.

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56 minutes ago, gimruis said:

I agree, the smaller ones actually are decent eating out of cold water.  Assuming you can filet them properly and remove the y bones.  I'm not very proficient at that.


I just fillet them like any other fish, then season the fillets and bake them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Once cooked, the meat will separate at the Y-bones and they’re easily removed.  Then I flake the fish and we make fish tacos, or fish burgers.  It’s certainly more fiddly than boneless fillets dropped into a frier, but the whole family enjoys the end result. 👍🏻

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@The Baron my Father, Uncle, and deceased Grandfather were all very good at fileting them and removing the y bones.  I watched them do it dozens of times.  I just never really did it myself very often.  I should have watched more closely and participated regularly.

 

I think its very important to release the larger ones.  Anything over 26 inches here is in the minority now in terms of pike size.  Its the small 20 inchers that need to be removed from the lake.

 

I think the biggest one I caught last season was 33 inches.  The biggest one I caught in 2022 was 35 inches.

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My perfect eater size pike is about 4-6#.  Smaller and bigger get set free.

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we only have 2 or 3 lakes with decent populations of pike.  NJ F&G concentrated more on muskies than pike.  That said, my early season lake is one of the two and my second favorite lake is another.  I'll end up with one or two a year.  My early season lake is actually the lake they trapnet breeders from for the hatchery.  At ice out every year F&G puts in 3-4 big trap nets and pulls out quite a few 10-20 lb pike from a 250 acre lake. They also publish the rest of the trapnet results and crappie feature highly.  I always felt bad about keeping crappie from there until I read that each net would have hundreds and they would end up trap netting a couple thousand every year.

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We have Muskie but no pike. I would welcome them, I’ve only caught two but it was fun. Granted I like catching anything that’s not a stocker trout 

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1 hour ago, TnRiver46 said:

We have Muskie but no pike. I would welcome them, I’ve only caught two but it was fun. Granted I like catching anything that’s not a stocker trout 

I'd rather catch pike than muskies, given a choice.

A couple of reasons:

  1. They're just more fun, and
  2. Truly big pike are rarer than big muskies.

I see bunches of big muskies every year, but few big pike.

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1 hour ago, Further North said:

I'd rather catch pike than muskies, given a choice.

A couple of reasons:

  1. They're just more fun, and
  2. Truly big pike are rarer than big muskies.

I see bunches of big muskies every year, but few big pike.

 

That is so odd you don't catch more pike.  You're not that far from me either.  I catch so many northern pike on accident each season that I generally don't even keep track.

 

I do agree that it has become very difficult to find large northern pike though.  The last stronghold for them is in Canada.

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Where we fish, 30” pike are fairly common in the spring, 36” is an achievable goal but not an every day occurrence and a 38”+ pike is a real trophy.  To catch the really big 40”+ you have to head north - the further, the better and if you arrive in a float plane you’re in the right spot.
 

When summer fishing for bass, it’s usually the 24” and under pike stealing our tackle in shallow water.  By the time bass season opens in late June, the big pike have slid back into deep/cold water and have to be targeted by a knowledgeable pike angler (i.e. not me).

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55 minutes ago, Susky River Rat said:

I have never caught a pike.

 

If you're ever in my neck of the woods, give a holler.  I'll put you on some.  They might all be small slime darts but they'll be pike.  You will quickly develop a hate for stinky pike slime.

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2 hours ago, Susky River Rat said:

@gimruis they can’t be that bad 

 

Think back to the times when you get a bad sinus infection.  All that snot is on the fish.  And it stinks.

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Spring pike fishing is one of the most fun times of the year around here. I’m also blessed to be around a ton of big fish, especially when the water is cool and they’re still pretty shallow and feeding heavily after they’ve spawned. Won’t be long now and I’ll be cruising the shallow back bays, watching “logs” swim around and sunning themselves, and having absolute monsters dart out of fallen trees and make my bait disappear in their mouths that look like five gallon pails when they inhale it!

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7 hours ago, gimruis said:

 

That is so odd you don't catch more pike.  You're not that far from me either.  I catch so many northern pike on accident each season that I generally don't even keep track.

 

I do agree that it has become very difficult to find large northern pike though.  The last stronghold for them is in Canada.

We catch pike...just not many bigger ones.

A lot of the lakes I fish have both pike and musky...which put the musky on the prime spots.  The rivers - which I've spent a lot of time on in the last few years have a definite bias towards muskies...muskies being more of a fish for places with current.

When we go to Canada, we catch buckets-o-pike, and I'm sure if I spent more time on lakes looking for them, I'd find them...but rivers call stronger than lakes these days.

4 hours ago, gimruis said:

 

Think back to the times when you get a bad sinus infection.  All that snot is on the fish.  And it stinks.

If you leave 'em in the water, or in the net, you don't have to deal with that.

Barbless hooks...reach over the side, grab the hook with the needle-nose, rotate, and pike-be-gone.

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8 hours ago, The Baron said:

Where we fish, 30” pike are fairly common in the spring, 36” is an achievable goal but not an every day occurrence and a 38”+ pike is a real trophy.  To catch the really big 40”+ you have to head north - the further, the better and if you arrive in a float plane you’re in the right spot.
 

When summer fishing for bass, it’s usually the 24” and under pike stealing our tackle in shallow water.  By the time bass season opens in late June, the big pike have slid back into deep/cold water and have to be targeted by a knowledgeable pike angler (i.e. not me).


so weirdly, this is the same size description I’d use here. Plenty of fish up to 30” and 36” is around. I caught a couple at the 30” mark. Then again I lost one and missed another that were over 40” for sure. Both were clear water right near the boat. Same lake, about a month apart (could be the same fish for all I know). 

6 hours ago, Susky River Rat said:

@gimruis they can’t be that bad 


do you have pickerel where you are?  They are a good approximation. Pickerel might be worse for slime but it’s close. Slime darts. And the 15-20” ones are hell on lures. 

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I always spend some time targeting pike especially on the Minnesota opener.  The big ones are shallow on a normal opener.  Where I fish you can keep 10 under 22 inches and they taste great.  I release anything bigger than 22 inches.  Big pike are my favorite to fish for.

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4 hours ago, Susky River Rat said:

@casts_by_fly I’ve only had pickerel eat musky lures never on bass stuff lol

 

You must not have many of them around.  Anything that is baitfish looking they will eat up here.  It was a jerkbait this last trip.  Spinnerbaits will get torn up.  They eat crankbaits too and will tear the heck out of keitechs (like nipping the tails of a fresh one straight out of the box).  They are slimy and make a fish smelling mess of the boat.  Even rubber nets hold their slime for a while and don't get me started on the foam decking.  They are the only reason I ever wash my boat.

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