Big Fish, Small Pond: Pike

pike pondLike me, you most likely have a handful of local lakes and rivers within a short distance that you seek out for some action on the water. Some of these waters may be known for producing fair numbers of small pike, too, but often there is a trophy fish swimming among the smaller ones, just waiting to be caught. To do this on your smaller local waters, however, you just have to be willing to wade through many small pike until you land that big 40-incher. Today we’ll take a look at how.

When most of us think of pike, we think of stickbaits and spinners. These lures will produce pike time and time again, but if you want to hook into the big guys, your go-to lures will need to be the ones you use for musky, specifically black bucktail musky spinners with nickel blades. In Spring, the vegetation hasn't yet reached the surface, and running this beauty over the tops of weeds will attract the biggest pike in your waters. Start with a slow retrieve, as strikes are often subtler when the water's cold. The black works so well because it contrasts well in both stained and clear water. Even if your local waters aren’t weedy, you can still use the bucktail around brushpiles and blowdowns with great effect.

As Spring turns to Summer, the vegetation will really thicken up. This is when a big, black and red spinnerbait will be your best friend. The single hook will hang up much less than the treble of a bucktail and the lure’s arm will keep weeds from snagging, as well.

One popular way to capitalize on the local pike bit is keep an eye on the moon phases. Pike often go into a feeding frenzy during lunar changes, so pay close attention to new moons and full moons, as well when the moon rises and sets. In fact, you can do exponentially better than everyone else just by timing your visits around a change in the moon, even if it falls upon a time of day that isn’t thought to be the best for fishing.

You’ll need to be able to recognize prime locations for pike opportunities, and areas with large baitfish, weeds, and deep locations will be the best places to start. In rivers and streams, a good number of suckers, white perch, or carp will keep pike well-fed and large, and the same can be said of panfish and shad in lakes and ponds. It’s true that pike eat just about anything, including birds and rodents, but these won’t be enough to biggie size them, so focus on the baitfish. Weeds are synonymous with pike, as they’re ambush predators. Large weedbeds between five and ten feet deep with defined edges are prime habitat, as they allow pike to sit on the weedline and ambush baitfish that move in and out of the bed. Finally, you’ll want to locate some deeper spots. Pike are technically a coldwater species, and big fish are usually found at least 15-feet deep where they can stay cool during the warmer seasons.

Knowing where to look and what to throw will give you a leg up on the competition, which is a huge bonus in smaller, heavily fished waters. Keeping track of the moon phases will only boost your chances of landing big pike when others settle for smaller fish. The tips outlined today are a great start to getting the most out of your local farm ponds and streams when you’re seeking pike.