Northern pike is pretty much the epitome of what is called a predatory fish. At least, they are the most aggressive fish in our waters. They can be caught all season long. No matter what your fishing for or what technique you are using, you're almost always likely to hook into some pike while on the water. Targeting these fish after ice-out and early spring is the best time to hook into sheer quantity and big quality fish.
As the ice melts and open water hits, pike look to some of the shallowest water they can find. Look for shallow, soft-bottomed back bays that lose ice and warm up the quickest. Back bays that have a large flat, around three feet of water, maybe with a creek feeding into it, with cane or weeds will be a prime area to start. It's also where a lot of the bait migrate to, and pike will follow and eventually spawn. You should find a pretty large group of fish in these shallow areas early in the season when the sun gets high, but their size might not be the best.
Smaller pike tends to group up together earlier in the day, while the big fish tend to be a bit more solitary and spread out. If you’re looking for a trophy fish, try to get away from the groups and find some darker water, where that first small drop in depth is in the bay. Big fish will tend to hang out in deeper water until the warmest part of the day, when they will then move up, usually much later in the day.
Using quality tackle for these fish is a must if you want to land a lot of fish and not have your tackle box looking like someone stole all your lures. I like to use a heavy action baitcasting setup for more power and greater casting distance. My reel will be spooled with either 50- to 65-pound TUF-LINE braid or a 20-pound fluorocarbon line. At the end of my line will always be a wire leader with a snap swivel, so these toothy fish won't break my line and I can change baits quickly and easily.
I have three main presentations I always use for pike. A big spoon, a big jerk bait, and a big soft plastic paddle tail swimbait. Spoons such as Cleo or Williams will work great. For my jerk bait, I like the Rapala Husky Jerk, and for my soft plastic swimbait, I love to use the YUM Pulse or a Keitech Swing Impact fat rigged on a belly weighted wide gap hook.
Pike are relatively easy to catch and very plentiful in almost every watershed in our area. A great fish to bring home a limit of, no matter what some people say. They are great table fare if you know how to fillet them.
Even though they can get very large, they are a great fish to target when taking out children, or someone who is just getting started in fishing, because of how many there are. If you want to have a fun-filled day, be sure to target these hard-fighting aggressive fish this year.