Pike offer early-season action

As water starts to open up in Sunset Country, anglers definitely feel the need to get out there and wet a line.
Bass and trout provide early-season opportunities, but they are not necessarily the easiest fish to get to.
Trout usually require a little bit of travel although the fishing can be hot as the fish are shallow and feeding before heading to deep water for the summer.
Bass fishing can be excellent, but it’s feast or famine usually because smallmouths are in really tight schools for a couple of weeks before they disperse along shorelines to prepare to spawn.
If you don’t find these groups, you could have a tough day on the water.
With walleye season closed until May 16, pike provide anglers with the most dependable options for early-season action—and it’s happening now.
Pike make a foray into shallow water as soon as the weedy back bays and channels begin to open up. In fact, on many of the big waters in Sunset Country, pike will start showing up in these locations while there’s still ice on the main lake and they’ll hang around for a couple weeks.
Action is hot and there are real opportunities at really big fish.
I can remember when I was young, my dad used to take us to a little spot on the Winnipeg River where a creek flowed into a shallow bay. We used to fish off shore with daredevils and spinnerbaits—and we caught plenty of fish, including some big ones.
Nearly all of the weedy backwaters of our lakes will attract pike at ice-out, but there are a few structural elements that will help increase your odds. Anywhere there are little creeks or streams running into a lake in shallow water areas will provide added attraction.
As well, I like to fish old, standing pencil reeds. The reeds provide a little bit of cover that pike like.
Bulrushes with enough water around them can be really good, too. Pike don’t need much water—just enough to cover their backs in most cases.
Larger creeks or rivers that are big enough to get a boat into can really attract a lot of fish, as well. The key is to find large, shallow water areas.
I mentioned earlier that daredevils and spinnerbaits were good lures to catch pike at this time of year and they still are. However, in recent years I’ve refined my presentations a little bit and have found slower-moving, subtle baits can be even more effective, especially for big fish.
My go-to pike lure when they are in shallow water is a 5”-7” jerkshad rigged on a weightless, 6/0 wide-gap worm hook. You can slowly twitch these minnow imitators through old weeds and not get hung up, and you can hang these baits in front of fish to tempt them to bite.
Polarized sunglasses are key because you actually see pike, especially big ones, really easily when they are in this shallow water.
Smith makes sunglasses with polarchromic copper lenses that are the best I’ve used on the waters in our region.
I like to use braided line for fishing pike, usually 30-pound Sufix Performance Braid, which has the diameter of like 10-pound monofilament.
Always use a leader when fishing for pike because they will bite through your line—even if you are using braid.
So get out there and catch a big one!

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