As Spring is around the corner it’s time to switch things up. One of the Greatest times of year is upon us, and where most of the waters are still covered with ice, up north in Europe, here in Holland the fishing conditions are rather soft for the time of year, yet every now and then another cold-front is around the corner. Nevertheless, the water temperatures are climbing and it is the slightest movement in water temperature can get the Pike into a pre-spawn feeding frenzy. Time to gear up and show you some insights into the world of what gear to use, and how to use it!
Depending on the time zone you’re in, the weather conditions, or just about anything else that matters when providing stable conditions, fishing for Pike when the weather starts to brighten up can be a great thing to do. In fact, personally, for me, fishing in spring is some of the best fishing of the year if only, the conditions are right. The weather has to be stable in order to provide some sort of a safe haven for the fish to move to their shallow spawning grounds, but it is not these spawning grounds that make the fishing so interesting. Is it the transition zone before these spawning grounds that truly can make a day special fishing in spring The Pike have been lurking in the deep, or somewhere half where around the drop for the most part of Winter. Now when the water temperature starts to climb, it tends to hide out more in shallower areas, and it is especially in these areas where you can target them at their very best!
So, what makes a body of water so interesting when it comes to finding pre-spawn Pike? This however completely depends on the type of water that you are trying your luck at. There are a wide variety of different areas where fish hold up in numbers in order to spawn, and finding these areas, or should I say recognizing key elements that come first. For example, when you are fishing at a certain location where the overall depth is no deeper than 3 meters or 10 feet, the vast majority of the Pike population has nowhere to go, than shallow. So it is much easier to find them in the end when the pre-spawn, or post-spawn comes to mind. In these types of water, the fish can often be found shallow all year long, but it is what makes the fishing so interesting that makes it also interesting for the angler. Often these waters don’t really have edges and because of this, Pike moves around much easier than a deeper body of water. In the spring, fish can regularly be found directly underneath the edges of the water, and for the angler casting distance with baits, it is often un unnecessary. The Pike can be right in front of your feet, and in a literal sense also will be in front of your feet, simply because the shore cover, in terms of reeds, the vegetation of perhaps a sandy bottom, already provides necessary cover where needed.
Looking at larger bodies of water, lakes for example, the when and where become a totally different story. When suddenly becomes more important than where, and it is exactly this that makes spring fishing for pike so worthwhile. To take this example of a lake, in a lake you will find different depths, as that is a normal cause of these types of water. Large areas of deeper water, next to shallower water, and even shallower water in between. Fishing for spring pike is literally finding a needle in a haystack. I want to make one thing clear before continuing this article, and that is that all Pike spawn at different times in the spring. Here in Holland for example the closed season begins at the end of March, to give the fish the ability to spawn. But do they really spawn at this time? Well, that completely, again depends on the body of water you are at. And this is no rocket science, this is just the way nature has been programmed. To make a shortcut here, The spring is crucial to the existence of Pike, The winters are getting milder and milder each year, and so it happens to be that some fish have already spawned well before spring has even arrived. But one way or another, to not get too much into the detailed matter of how fish move around on any body of water, Pike spawns multiple times in one spring season. So it makes When much more important than Where. When Pike spawns or moves onto the shallower edges, totally depends on the type of water that you are fishing. Another few key factors that matter are the moon phase, water clarity, bottom structures, and overall vegetation on the edge of the water that you are in. It is no secret that stained or darker water warms more quickly because of sun rays, while in waters with higher visibility, the sun can still penetrate through, but it takes much longer to warm the water. This is in one term the case of why every body of water is different, and thus you as an angler need to find out When the fish are Where. But all in all, once you’ll know this you can go onto the next step, which is tackle and how to use it!
Targeting Pike in shallow areas I take two rods with me. The Abu Garcia BEAST Pro Casting in 150gr and another in 225gr. Both are 8’6” which is a crucial length in this type of fishing. The lighter 150gr is used to cast small to medium-sized baits, that need some kind of finesse, such as the hybrid jerk baits from Murky Lures, whereas the heavier 225gr comes to mind when fishing jerk baits, such as a glider for example. Yes, you can fish lighter if you want, but here heavier is key. Of course fishing a hybrid jerk bait on a 225gr setup is not something I recommend, here you will need the finesse tip section of the rod in order to give the bait its action. Working any hybrid jerk bait goes much easier with a lighter rod, because this is a game of finesse, and customizing the action you give to it, as is exactly what makes these types of jerk baits so damn effective, plus hybrid jerk baits are also not really fish at a far distance, and usually its better to work them closer in.
On the other hand going for a somewhat heavier setup on the 225gr and the Abu Garcia 8’6” BEAST Pro Casting, this rod is an absolute dream to fish when distance comes to mind. It is a true cannon to cast gliders far into orbit. The Svartzonker McTracer or Berkley Zilla Glider for example is a great match to this rod, because it loads it like no other, and enables you to cover a lot of distance on the cast. My favorite type of fishing is casting gliders in spring and using them as search bait to spread chances and cover a lot of water. And search they will. Rods in the 200gr range are certainly no overkill, but the way the blank has been designed they make a super great rod for long-distance jerk bait fishing. The length of the rod gives a whole different dimension to setting the hook, and the body comes into play once that’s been done.
The baits mentioned above are real casting bullets, and believe me there is nothing greater than making a crazy long cast, and when your bait hits the water, only seconds later hooking up into a real spring giant. And this is also why I use such a heavy setup. Over the years I have found that it all comes down to one thing, and that is a backbone. Here is no room for error see it so much, in anglers who use short jerk bait rods for jerk baits, which are great for smaller water or smaller fish, but when it comes down to a 15kg+ spring giant, you will not hook up properly, and when I hooked my first 131cm monster giant boat-side, there wouldn’t be any possibility I hooked it if I didn’t have a rod with extreme backbone and length. Because what happens with short whippy rods is that you will have some sort of boomerang effect, and the force you put into the hookset bounces back immediately! So for this, the Abu Garcia 8’6” BEAST Pro Casting in 225gr comes to play.
Both rods are teamed up with the Abu Garcia MAX61 LH reel in a 5:3:1 gear ratio so the amount of line that can be retrieved is great for a slack line to occur. You don’t want to always fish jerk baits on a straight line, and especially with hybrid jerk baits you want to leave some room to play. The double handle on these reels makes it a really nice reel to fish with this style of bait and it’s very good quality in itself. Both reels are equipped with a heavy-duty line, namely 0.39mm Berkley Sick Braid X8 46.3kg in 102lb. This may seem overkill to some but it’s not. It is really a great thing to fish jerk baits on a line that creates lift, this makes it move quite in a different way into the water, also the somewhat extreme breaking strength is great when you also happen to hook a large spring pike boat side, the brute force that suddenly comes into play on that hookset makes you want to go for maximum safety. One thing is for sure, with a line of this kind I will never have to worry about equipment failure, and that peace of mind enables me to look much further for that one fish of a lifetime!
When fishing in spring, we often target shallow areas. The water is usually no deeper than 3 meters or 10 feet, which is specific because this is the edge where it moves into deeper water. Anything below 3 meters or 10 feet or more can be considered as deeper water. I don’t often fish with anglers who don’t know where the edge to deeper water lies, but this depth is a great tool to keep in mind, the standard for any type of fishing. When you are scouting an edge but don’t know exactly where the drop is, anything below this number is deeper water, and anything above is up to the shallows. As mentioned before, it totally depends on many factors and your body of water how shallow the fish move, but usually, they get pretty shallow. And this is also where quality gear needs to come in because you are fishing on the top of the food chain when it comes to sizes and the pike will often be heavy and you will encounter some true specimens along the way.