Well it’s that time of the year again. The boats are put away for the winter as the ice starts to form.
With Christmas around the corner, many of us are starting to think about what we would like for Christmas or are looking for gift ideas for friends or family.
If you are anything like the Exist To Fish Staff, you probably lost a few baits this year.
We are all excited about new and existing fishing product’s that we have not had an opportunity to purchase or test out. They just were not in your budget at the time or perhaps you are thinking about trying a new lure this winter or in 2016!!
I asked the Staff at Exist to Fish what they where going to ask Santa for this year.
Here are the top picks on their wish list!
: “On my Xmas wish list would be a pair of Smith Backdrop
sunglasses to protect my eyes when on the water and ice”.
A perfect medium-sized complement to the Touchstone, the Backdrop incorporates the same great features like stainless steel spring hinges and megol contact surfaces at the nose and temple tips. ChromaPop™ polarized lenses provide the highest level of enhanced color and clarity, or choose Techlite glass lenses for unparalleled optics and scratch resistance.
“Also a tube of liquid mayhem
walleye attractant in my stocking as I use it on the hard water all winter”.
- Made with real minnows in a super concentrated form. Contains natural baitfish enzymes infused with powerful amino acids and other bite stimulants
- formulated to target a fishes olfactory glands and trigger big strikes. Fish hold on to artificial bait longer meaning more hooks ups and more fish in the boat
- No mess formula stays on the bait, not in the boat. Super concentrated. A tiny amount goes a long way.
: “I would like the EzCam post
. I would love to have the EzCam mounted to my boat to give me the extra camera angle for my fishing videos with my Go Pro!”
The EzCam Post is the worlds PREMIER universal camera mount. It will work with any camera, smartphone, and/or camera accessory. It will secure to any object up to 3” in diameter and telescopes from 27” to 6’ in height. Not only will you be able to capture stunning pictures and videos, it will protect your camera from falling over. Perfect for use in boats by attaching to seat pedestals, simple and quick to set-up and use. The mounting plate has a reversible thread, 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 like any good tripod or monopod, so you can be sure any camera or accessory can be mounted to it.
: “I would like a underwater fishing camera!! I can think of a million different situations where I would use this! Having the ability to mark fish on my graph and drop a camera down to identify the species would be a huge benefit! This Camera, from Pyle,
looks incredible! And is very reasonably priced in comparison to other models out there.”
- Take Pictures and Record Videos Underwater in Color
- Drop the Camera in the Water and See Where the Fish are Hiding
- Waterproof Marine Grade Camera
- 3.5” inch Digital LCD Display
- Instantly Preview your Videos and Picture on the LCD Monitor
- Durable, Reinforced & Submergible Wired Camera
- Infrared LED Night Vision Sensors Illuminate Dark Environments
- Camera Cable Sinks up to 15 Meters Deep
- Micro SD Memory Card Slot
- Easily Save Files and Transfer to PC or Mac
- System Includes Wired Camera, LCD Display, Display Holder, Pole Mounting Brackets and Charging Cable
- Conveniently Mounts to Your Fishing Rod
- Brightness, Contrast & Color Display Adjustments
- Built-in Rechargeable Battery: 3000mAh (3.7V Lithium)
- Up to 8 Hour Battery Life
- Observe Underwater Fish Behavior and Environments
- 30 Mega Pixel Wide Angle Lens
- Built-in IR LED Night Vision Illumination
- Resolution: 640 x 380
- Image Sensor: ¼” inch
- Size: 0.8” x 1.0” inches
- Weight: 0.35 g
- Operating Temperature: -10 to 40 Celsius
- Screen Size: 3.5 inches
- 4X Digital Zoom Function
- Resolution: 960 x 240
- Backlight Brightness: 300cd
- Protective Flip-Open Cover
- Universal Threaded Mounting Insert
- Easy Operation Touch Button Controls
- Display Housing (L x W x H): 4.2” x 3.0” x 1.9” inches
- Weight: 150 g
- Sold as: 1 set
- Weight: 1.26 lbs.
Jamie Wilson : “One item I truly want from Santa this year is, without a doubt, several packs of Lake Fork Trophy Lures’ “Live Magic Shads” This segmented plastic swimbait has an amazing and very unique action, along with exceptional durability and a great line of colors. With the ice fishing season just around the corner I have to start gearing up so I’m ready for big, hungry Lake Trout. Then when summer comes, there’s nothing better than a swimbait to fire up big Bass. So come on Santa I’ve been a good boy this year, a couple in every color in both 3.5″ and 4″, regular and boot tail please! P.S- come down from the North Pole anytime and I’ll put you on some big fish!”
live magic shad
Our New Boot Tail Magic Shad Swimbaits feature a “Boot Tail” design that utilizes an innovative tail combined with the patented swim slots of our “Live” Magic Shad Lure. The slots in the tail enhance the lure’s realistic swimming action-especially at slower speeds used for umbrella rigs, jigheads, Carolina rigs, or swimbait hook rigging. Hook slots on top and bottom aid in weedless hook rigging.
||Quantity per Package
: “I would absolutely like my go to bait weather it be trolling or casting for both muskies and pike. The Shallow Invader from Musky Innovations
They provide a color chart, so any pattern is possible. Why I want these is because I know they catch fish in all conditions and are a reliable and durable bait.”
|LURE DESCRIPTION: The Shallow Invader is one of the most innovative shallow crankbaits on the market today. This “hybrid” lure combines a hard plastic crankbait head with a hand-poured, soft plastic action body and tail. This knockout combination creates incredible serpentine action that drives large gamefish crazy. The tail is replaceable. If it gets chewed up or you want to change colors, changing it is a snap. Pull the tail straight back until it pulls off the tail post. Push your new tail on the post until the rib on the back of the head is seated on the ridge in the tail. You can add some super glue for an even stronger hold.
|LURE SPECIFICATIONS: The Shallow Invader is 9″ long and is about 2 oz. It has extra strong 3/0 wide gap hooks for best hook-ups. It comes in many different fish catching colors for all your angling needs. The Shallow Invader runs 2-4 feet and is a lethal twitch bait.
|HOW TO FISH THE INVADER: Use the Shallow Invader in all shallow crankbait/twitchbait situations. Cast or troll on shallow flats, rocky points, mid lake reefs, and over the tops of weedbeds. The Shallow Invader can be used as a very effective twitch bait. A good technique is to pause several times in mid retrieve. Because the lure floats when stopped, it is very effective in the weeds. It imitates an injured bait fish often drawing strikes from even fickle gamefish.
: “I would love to add a Deeper Sonar
to my arsenal this coming season.”
Deeper – smart sonar is a first of its kind, portable, wireless fish finder that utilizes technology on your smart phone or tablet. Specially designed for amateur and professional fishermen.
||2.6″/ 6.5 cm diameter
||From iOS 5.0 and Android 2.3 to the latest iOS and Android devices
||0.22 lb/ 100 grams
||Wireless Bluetooth connection
||Up to ~140 ft – 160 ft/ ~40-50 meters. Depends on the OS and smartphone model.
|Depth Range Max/Min:
||130 ft (40 m) / wide angle – 4.3 ft (1.3 m); narrow angle – 2 ft (0.5 m)
||Water temperature Sensor
||Celsius / Fahrenheit
||-4F to 104F/ -20C to 40C
||Lithium Polymer, 3.7V Rechargeable; lasts for 6 hours of non stop usage; takes 2 hours to fully charge.
||Compatible with 110V / 240V. Micro USB.
||290 kHz (15°) / 90 kHz (55°)
|Models and logistic
||GLOBAL version: SKU: FLDP09; EAN: 4779032950213; 32pcs/master carton;ASIA version: SKU: FLDP10; EAN: 4779032950206; 32pcs/master carton
: “The best and most functional item under her Christmas tree would be an Eclipse UPF 50+ shirt
to protect my skin from the sun while fishing.”
Keep an eye on Eclipse for an exciting new product launch coming soon.
Eclipse is a Canadian company offering UPF 50+ clothing to protect against the sun’s harmful rays. After being cleared of skin cancer back in January of 2014, I decided to protect myself against further damage by creating a line of apparel that offers UPF 50+ with high quality fabric. Eclipse products are Made in Canada and offer protection through the fabric and not a chemical coating. The current product line is a generous size that accommodates both men and women that want protection from the sun while outdoors. More products including long sleeves will be available soon.
: “I have had my eye on Eco Pro Tungsten
for some time now and would love to add some of their products to my arsenal. I love to flip plastics so their tungsten bullet weights are an easy pick for me!”
Eco Pro Tungsten Flippin Weights
Eco Pro Tungsten weights are 97% pure eco friendly tungsten. Fray Free, insert free and lead free, Eco Pro Tungsten weights offer serious advantages over lead. Eco Pro Tungsten cast farther and more accurately than lead. Actually feel what you have been missing! Smaller, dense tungsten is super sensitive, allowing you to detect more strikes and catch’s more fish while greatly reducing hang ups! Special “seal coat” painting resist chips and scratches.
“Nobody makes all the cool colors than Eco Pro Tungsten does. They allow me to match my weights with my favorite plastics!”
: “I would like nothing more than some more Rod Sox
. With their proprietary unique feature, a snag proof, hook resistant rubber type mouth makes loading and unloading my rods quick and easy.”
Breathable – Rod Sox can go on wet or dry equipment. The breathable mesh allows air to easily pass through allowing any moisture out and drying your rod and line.
Safety Tip – The hardened tip of our Rod Sox protects the last guide/tip of rod from the wear and tear of placing or removing rods from rod lockers or any type of storage.
Durable Tag – With the addition of a hang hole in the new, durable, rubber tag, rods can now be “hung up” for storage, a great and safe way to save room and keep your rod out of harm’s way laying or leaning elsewhere. After the Rod Sox is completely seated on the rod, a gently tug on the rubber “mouth” will “Lock” the Rod Sox in place, and it won’t slip off. When it’s time to go fishing, a simple push of the mouth upwards releases the “lock” and the Rod Sox will just slide right off.
– The hard tip is wrapped with a color tape indicating the length of the rod it fits so that you can easily tell your rods apart and know which Rod Sox go on what rod when ready for storage. (For Example: green tip tape is for a 6’6″ rod, while red tip = 7′ rod, etc…)
Tangle Free – Avoid the tangling of rods and line when carrying gear to and from the water.
Mesh Density – The Original Rod Sox have the densest mesh of any rod protector on the market. This makes them more durable over time, improves the protection of your rod, and allows a tighter weave for added safety of rod guides, especially microguides.
Improved Mouth – The new and improved pliable, rubber-type “mouth” on the bottom end of the Rod Sox seals the mesh from fraying or unrolling, as well as protects the rod paint from any scratching from open mesh. In addition, the rubber mouth provides about a 1 3’4″ protective barrier between the hook and the mesh to prevent lure hang-ups.
Since I only asked the Team for a couple of products that they would like to have, as I know their wish list would have been too long for this article longer, Please visit http://existtofish.com/
and check out our Product Reviews and Articles for more ideas.
From all of us at Exist To Fish Canada, Merry Christmas and may your Holiday season be joyous and safe.
Exist To Fish Canada Writer David Reid
Exist To Fish Canada Author Alex Meletis
||Jerk bait (Manta)
||River Run Tackle
River Run Tackles Original Manta
One of the best glide bait action jerk baits I have used. With its symmetrically side to side action all big essox cannot resist the Manta. Its profile and plastic bill like tail allows the bait to preform like an injured bait fish subsurface. The realistic patterns available through River Run Tackle are no basement paint job. Adding the realistic patterns and action of the Manta I would highly recommend this bait to all essox anglers. When casted you can straight retrieve this bait giving it a swim side to side action or a jerk pause retrieve giving a more injured fish profile. Well-constructed, these baits do not give up and will endure tons of action.
river run tackle
|(The Original Manta) Specifications
||Lac Seul Perch
|| 21.99 USD
Overall quality of the Manta is good. Well-constructed to take on any fish that dares to chew it, these baits last. The only thing I would change is a wire through construction of its eyelets rather than screw eyes. I also up grade my hooks to VMC or Gorilla 4X because I find Mustad’s tend to snap and bend.
|Quality Ratings for (The Original Manta)
||Level of Detail(1-5)
||Rating (10 being highest )
The performance of the River Run Manta is excellent. Because it’s well design the bait stays up right when paused in its side to side action showing that it is properly balanced and adding to the realistic factor.
|Performance Ratings (The Original Manta)
||Ease of Use(1-5)
||Quality of Action (1-5)
||Position at Rest (1-5)
||Rating (10 being highest )
Exist To Fish Canada Writer Alex Meletis
Key features of this bait would be its well-constructed and durable profile, creating a fantastic side to side action when used as a jerk bait. The design aspect of this bait goes to its profile shape and well balanced body also adding to the jerk bait aspect but also to its realistic presentation in the water column.
|Feature /Design Ratings (The Original Manta)
||Range of sizes (1-3)
||Rating (10 being highest )
I use jerk baits all season long. I find the Manta from River Run Tackle is most effective later in the season when you need to slow things down. Lakes and River systems are both idea setting for this bait. When fishing in current waters, the Manta can be straight retrieved and in slower water or none current water fishing a rock bet or weed edge in a lake system I like to use this bait as a jerk bait with a side to side presentation.
|(The Original Manta) Collective Final Rating
|Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = MUST HAVE
Great Bait! This glide bait has a great side to side action that is irresistible. Well-constructed and durable enough that multiple fish will not drastically alter the action of the bait.
Exist To Fish Canada Author Alex Meletis
Late Fall Musky Hunt
Alright, there’s good news and bad news. I’ll give you the bad news first. The open water musky season is in its final stage. The good news is that you have an epic few weeks left to get it done, provided you are fishing in lakes and rivers in and around say, southern Ontario and other near north spots free of ice.
A lot of anglers have thrown in the towel by now and I ask why? This has been an unseasonably warm fall and looks to remain that way. If your favorite lakes start to freeze up, find some faster flowing rivers that will ultimately stay unfrozen much longer. A good example of this would be the Trent Severn waterway which has open dams creating current in river sections that bottle-neck
between lakes. This current will be your friend in many ways, one of which is open water right into mid-December. Of course, the Great Lakes are a good option as they do not tend to freeze up, so launch your boat into the famous Lake St.Clair and get after it.
Let’s take look at the where, why’s and how’s when searching out productive areas for musky and how to get them to attack. Both Aaron Jolicoeur and Chris Huskilson lean on flowing tributaries in the Kawartha region of Ontario when on the hunt for hungry late fall musky and they are definitely dialed into what makes these toothy predators tic. Aaron explains “Don’t abandon aquatic vegetation/weeds that are brown and appear to be dead or dying as these weeds will continue to hold both suckers and bullheads”. You see, suckers and bullheads can thrive in environments low in oxygen and both species are fatty, delicious meal choices for musky.
Now, both Chris and Aaron favor a couple of lures and color choices to mimic these forage types, the first being a 10”-12” plastic tube mostly of the
Beaver’s Baits XL Beaver
unweighted variety, along with jerk and glide type baits. Also, Chris has recently added a new tool to his box, the “Baby beaver” and “Baby Beaver XL” by Beaver’s Baits. These baits are a blend of rubber and hair that provides a very unique, subtle swimming action during the retrieve which can trigger the most negative fish. Color wise, to mimic suckers and bullhead, a dark brown gets the job done.
Another high percentage spot will be on breaklines which create current seams into slack water which are ambush points. Chris Huskilson explains “
I’ll” follow the breakline or contour line in the current with the trolling motor at 30% while casting ahead of the boat, then, I’ll retrieve the tube, “Baby
Beaver” or a Manta on a slack line, with a twitch-pause cadence. I make sure to keep an eye on the GPS unit to better pinpoint the high percentage areas that hold baitfish and ultimately, opportunistic musky. I’ll follow these contour lines into current breaks and slack water, then I’ll fan cast that area before I move on”.
Other meals choices in the Kawarthas also include walleye and their cousins, yellow and jumbo perch. Musky Innovations “Titan Tubes” have some great color choices such as “Walleye” and two variations of “Perch”, one which has an orange belly and deeper contrast and the other being more muted and subtle in appearance. Now, rivers at this time of the year can be murky and stained which alters color choice. Aaron explains “In clear water I lean towards more natural colors like walleye, green pumpkin and sucker. When the waters become stained I will throw bright colored tubes in orange, chartreuse or even a combination of the two”. Musky Innovations also offers a couple matches for this situation such as “Sherbert” (orange/chartreuse) and “Cremesicle” (orange/white-speckled back).
Musky Innovations 12 inch Titan Tube Cisco
Beyond color choice, proper presentation is the key when fishing for musky. The proper use of “triggers” during the late fall period (and any time of year) is so important when you’re trying to turn the heads of these apex predators.
As water temperatures drop into the low 40’s the overall speed at which you work a bait changes from a
faster twitch-twitch pause to a varied twitch-pause jerkbait style retrieve. The twitch will lift the bait and make it dart to the side then spiral down on the pause. The most important factor here when applying this type of trigger into a retrieve is the anglers ability to throw slack in line during twitches and pauses. Snapping/twitching on slack line, rather than pulling the bait on a taught line sends it into an erratic sideways darting motion, at which point, again with slack line on the pause, the bait will descend without being pulled into an arching motion towards the boat. These triggers in this presentation are natural representations of injured or dying forage, which top predators such as musky zero in on as an easy meal in the frigid waters of late fall.
Both Aaron and Chris subscribe to this theory and presentation choice. Aaron explains “Tubes can be very unpredictable and erratic which lends itself to this time of year. Experimenting by varying the cadence can help to better predict patterns”. What this means is Aaron will change the timing or length of pauses to efficiently figure out the feeding response of albeit negative, neutral or downright aggressive fish. If tubes, which are a combination of vertical and horizontal presentations aren’t getting a positive response, the full on horizontal presentation of a jerkbait could very well
River Run Tackles Original Manta
be the next logical choice. The ability to suspend a jerkbait or glide bait in the strikezone for much longer periods of time in cold water can produce bites from finicky, negatively responding musky. One of the best glide baits out there for this application is the legendary “Manta” by RiverRun Tackle. The same cadence rules apply to this bait, just experiment until you find the magic combination of color and speed along with erratic vs steady action, depth and location.
Other ways to further predict the response you may get from these often misunderstood fish could include barometer and moon phases. Some anglers don’t pay attention to either one and some keep both factors in mind. A falling barometer can get all the baitfish in the system a bit more active meaning it is possible that a faster cadence and a more erratic, aggressive retrieve might be the deal, while the opposite may be true on a high pressure raising barometer. Moon phases can also have something to do with activity levels as well as a full moon period, for example, can coincide with the highest activity levels on the calendar. Keep in mind, musky might not have read the book on this so again, you need to read the waters you’re on in conjunction with the prevailing conditions and experiment with the cadence until you can pattern the fish.
Muskie Innovations Bulldawg
Expanding on throwing plastics for late fall musky a bit, local Kawartha and Lake St. Clair hot stick and owner of Figure Ate Guide Service Sam Ecker can shed more light: “I throw Musky Innovations “Bulldawgs” all year, but when the
Muskie Innovations Double Dawg
water temps drop and/or there is high current I’ll cast the magnum version of the “Bulldawg”. Late fall it is magnums all the way in the Kawarthas. “Bulldawgs” can be fished much the same way as a tube. Lift-drop, twitch-pause is the order of the day. When I fish Lake St. Clair I’ll turn my attention to Musky Innovations “Shallow Invaders” in colors that mimic shad as this is the main forage base on this body of water”.
Sam Ecker- Figure Ate Guide Service
Now what about boat side maneuvers in all of this? Good question. This is the final “trigger” that will turn a follow into a bite. Weather it is “Titan Tubes”, “Bulldawgs”, “Shallow Invaders, “Manta” jerkbaits or “Baby Beavers”, you must be focused on boat side maneuvers. Twitch-pauses are a trigger, but there are a couple more very important triggers beyond that. Speeding up during the last 25% of the retrieve can trigger a bite as well. But
Musky Innovations Dyin Dawg
when a musky is non-committal to this, a proper figure 8 which involves slowing down and raising the bait into a wide turn, then speeding up and plunging the bait on the straight away. You need to make them chase the bait and force
Musky Innovations Shallow Invader
them into a kneejerk reaction and thus making a decision, you know? This is the final trigger so if you get bit make sure your hooks are sharp, and you are focused and ready to set the hook into what could be the biggest fish of the season.
Sam Ecker- Figure Ate Guide Service
There is one more thing that can enhance the equation and that is the use of scent. Applying Liquid Mayhem baitfish scent is highly recommended as this creates a scent trail which adds to the realism of any lure as Liquid Mayhem is made with real baitfish. This will not only peak curiosity, but this might give you the extra second you need to set the hooks as the fish will hold on longer due to the yummy taste factor.
I’ll add this, the tackle is of utmost importance as musky are very powerful so make sure you can handle this aspect of the game. 8’6”-9’ XX heavy rods, coupled with wide arbor high quality reels spooled with 80lb braid paired with 100-150lb fluorocarbon leaders with high quality snaps are an absolute must.
Musky Innovations Bulldawg
This is it, time is running out but this is the time when the biggest, meanest, hungriest toothy critters are on the prowl and are putting on the feedbag so gear up and get after them. This is the time when the hunters become the hunted so let the fall Musky hunt continue.
See you out there.
Jamie Wilson Lead Writer/Editor
Exist To Fish Canada Writer Alex Meletis
Mid-summer Northern Pike fishing in north Western Ontario can be tough. Lake conditions change due to rising air temperature, dominant west winds and hatches alter the position of baitfish which has a trickle effect as well. Not to mention the fact that the metabolism of all freshwater fish fires up.
Does that mean you can catch Pike anytime, anywhere? No. Pike are second on the predatory scale behind Musky, and are effected by changing conditions, so as forage move deeper to find cooler water below the thermocline, so will Pike. As the forage moves shallow during dusk periods, Pike will be close behind. It’s simple, where there is food, there is hungry predators.
As the water temperatures continue to rise, I switch tactics and location from shallow weedy bays and search for pike along weed edges adjacent to deeper water. 15-30ft of water is a great place to start when casting or trolling baits in these conditions when the weed edges don’t pan out. Focusing on my favorite walleye points, humps and reefs, northern pike tend to head deep in search of a cooler water where bait fish and Walleye thrive in mid-summer. Musky Innovations “Under Dawgs” and “Bull Dawgs” are extremely effective when fishing deep water.
Musky Innovations Bulldawg
When fishing these structures casting and counting down your Dawgs I find is most effective. Depending on the depth, you want to allow the bait to have some hang time between jerks, this is usually when a fish will strike. The first five feet and last five feet of your retrieve are crucial, pike being an ambush predator will tend to follow your bait boat side, where it’s important to finish each retrieve with a figure eight.
The “Titian” and the “Jimmy” (larger tube baits) by Musky innovations can be amazing for deep dwelling pike looking for a deeper, slower presentations a foot off bottom. One little trick that Alex likes to add to his baits is a baitfish scented attractant by Liquid Mayhem. The scent trail can really turn on a feeding response in both aggressive and neutral Pike. Trolling can seem tedious but extremely effective covering more water in a shorter period of time. By fishing different depths in search of Pike midsummer, it allows you to develop a new tactic to targeting tough to catch pike.
When the water temperatures rise, Pike typically seek water temps of about 65-70 degree water. Switching to your fall tactics using larger slower baits, trolling 1.9-2.5 MPH and speeding up and slowing down off deep points and rock humps will improve your success on the water when conditions get tough. Trolling weed edges with Musky Innovations “Shallow Invaders” and “Bull Dawgs” at about 2.5-3 MPH with 20-30ft of line out allows the bait to run shallow enough you don’t contact bottom but still keeps the bait high enough in the water column that Northern Pike will strike in. Usually used as an early morning or evening tactics as Northern Pike tend to come to the weeds to feed on bait fish. Midsummer Northern Pike conditions can be challenging. Switching your tactics and presentation of
Exist To Fish Canada Writer Alex Meletis
baits can turn a fishless day into a successful day on the water. Focus on fishing these structures and experiment with these different methods to help put more fish in the boat at the end of the day. Alex counts on his 8’ Okuma EVX extra heavy rod, paired with a Diawa “Luna” reel spooled with Stren “Super Sonic” braid coupled with nothing but titanium leaders with “stay lock” snap swivels for all techniques discussed here.
Remember, Pike are hungry, aggressive predators that are adaptable to a wide variety of conditions. What truly dictates their behavioral movements and tendencies is the location of their forage but, all freshwater species have a comfort zone. So, try to find the relationship between the two and be versatile with your choices of presentations vs location and you’ll unlock the code of these toothy critters.
Author Alex Melitis
Lead Writer/Editor Jamie Wilson
Ice-Out Pike: Early Spring Tactics by Alex Meletis and Chris Huskilson
With spring just around the corner, my ice fishing gear has been stored and memories of giant Quinte walleyes and northern inland lake trout get pushed aside in preparation for ice-out northern pike fishing.
Pike move shallow in spring with the sole purpose to spawn. This takes place immediately after ice-out in 37-40 degree water temperatures. The window in which spawning takes place is quite short, often taking place before we can even get a boat in the water. They spawn over shallow, submerged vegetation on flood plains in rivers and back bays in larger lakes. Once the Spawn is done, they immediately move slightly deeper to recover from the spawn and wait for the water temp to increase. When the water approaches 50-55 degrees it seems Pike are most susceptible to angling tactics.
Targeting Pike in the spring can be challenging but extremely rewarding with multiple fish days when considering these few factors. Focus on areas where these pike have recently staged before the spawn. I look for transition areas that are in close proximity to where the spawn would have taken place. The first depth variation is typically where they will start to stack up in 6-8’ of water. Bays, shoals, and narrow river channels are all great areas to start.
As most bays tend to be shallower in comparison to the rest of the lake, weed growth tends to start in these areas before anywhere else on the lake. Weed growth provides more oxygen and cover for hunting bait, so look for
spots that are becoming abundant with aquatic vegetation. Sight fishing can be very effective at this time of year as fish recover from their spawning period. Polarized Glasses are an absolute must to see staging fish and structure in shallow water. I prefer Smith Optics Outlier glasses to get the job done.
Shoals surrounded by deep water are also a great starting point when targeting pike after ice out, as these areas provide structure for schools of bait fish that pike forage upon. Temperature fluctuations are also a major factor when targeting northern pike on shoals or humps, as warmer water conditioned by muddy bottoms, rocks and logs speeds up their metabolism, driving these predators to feed aggressively, thus striking your baits. As Surface Boils and dark shadows of pike start to disappear and water temps reach 65-70 degrees northern pike tend to seek deeper water, similar to their cousins, the musky. As water temperatures increase, you will want to move from on top of the shoal to the sides where deeper water is accessible.
Channels that funnel baitfish, especially schools of walleye in early spring ice out conditions should also be considered. As the walleye leave their spawning areas in rivers and streams, most Canadian Shield lakes have tight passages or channels to get to the next stretch of river or lake. These are key areas in which the walleye and other bait fish have to pass through, creating a perfect ambush area for Pike to feed.
Typically in early season ice out conditions, slowly working smaller inline spinners, medium to small sized spoons and smaller jerk baits seems to entice fish to bite. Because northern pike are so aggressive by nature, don’t
be surprised that when locating fish, more than one will follow your bait boat side. Like most apex species these fish will compete for meals. Surface baits are also great lures in early season. I generally start with top waters, then I will lean towards ‘Bulldawgs’, ‘Springdawgs’ and ‘Helidawgs’ by Musky Innovations throughout the late spring, and then the summer months in these three key areas. Ripping the ‘Springdawgs’ along the top of the weeds in bays during the spring period, and beyond can be deadly because of their smaller profile and light weight design. Working a ‘Bulldawg’, ‘Hellidawg’, and/or the ‘Manta’ by Riverrun Tackle with a twitch/pause cadence on shoals can be the ticket in spring. Also, trolling these baits along main channels/breaklines will help up your odds in spring, and ultimately throughout the entire season.
Photo Courtesy of Ben Gosselin and Devin Kloosterman
As far as jerkbaits, both hard and soft are effective. The Jackall Squad Minnow 115SP Jerkbait is a great choice, and for soft plastic jerkbaits, the 5″ ‘Magic Shad by Lake Fork Trophy Lures rigged weightless can be just deadly for finicky Pike. Another option is the ‘Live Magic Shad’ swimbait (Lake Fork Trophy Lures) or a 5″ Jackall ‘Ammonite’ Shad rigged onto a chatterbait for more strait/steady retrieves. For the ‘Springdawgs’, ‘Bulldawgs’ and ‘Helidawgs’, you will be utilizing musky rods/reels and heavier braided line of the 65lb variety. For jerkbaits, both hard and soft, medium-medium heavy spinning combos spooled with 20lb braided line coupled with heavy fluorocarbon leaders is perfect.
Scent is Key!! especially in cold water conditions! I prefer Liquid Mayhem scent products. A small one time application will often last all day long. And the pike absolutely love it!!
So, as the ice begins to melt, you should start planning and getting your gear ready for the high waters and transitioning, hungry pike that early spring is famous for. Research local areas and get prepared because soon, your go-to lakes will beacon you.
Exist To Fish Canada’s baits of choice as mentioned above