For years and years I have been talking about planning and preparation. Doing research, while at the same time looking at previous fishing notes from days gone by to plan for specific times of the fishing season. One of my favorite season time sets is the period of hard-water season in North Central Alberta during the end of February to the end of March. It's during this block of time that the Northern Pike start to stage up, and then eventually fully stage up for the Spawn. Up here in the North most of the Northern Pike Spawn before the ice is completely off the lakes. Making the End of February and March Prime Time for Trophy Pike fishing with fish in the 10 pound 36 inch and up class.
Now over the years I have been trying to predict when Pre Spawn will hit, taking the time of season and comparing with past seasons dates weather patterns etc. One key factor this time of year is the availability of deep water adjacent to the shallow spawning flats. Look for these areas on your lake maps and depth charts at home to size up where you want to go and fish and stick to it. We like the 10 to 14 foot depth zone of water in these key areas for Pre Spawn. The fish will stage up in this zone before moving up shallow for the spawn giving you a little time to have a shot at the Big Pike. This is one key time of the season to have success hunting for Trophy Pike successful fishing will be the result of how much you are willing to put into the research of your area to find those key locations.
Once you have located a Pre Spawn staging area log it in your notes. The fish will be back there every season for Pre Spawn. This narrows your work to what time will they be there, you can get close by logging each season you fish there, over time you will be able to nail it and be in the zone for the Big Fish. Then it all comes down to your own skill and the equipment you choose to use. When fishing for Big Northern Pike make sure not to overdo it by going to heavy on rods and reels. Medium/Heavy is good with good solid fishing line a must, my preference is Sufix Ice Braid in 20lb. The big fish we have caught using this line have not been able to cut it off on the ice, though they have tried, Sufix is superb.
I also like Tip Up's my preference here is the HT Original Ice Rigger, in my opinion the finest Tip Up's on the market. These Tip Up's allow you to use your Rod and Reel to fight the fish letting your drag system help you have better control over the fish. For bait I like the Large Smelt they seem to last good on the hook and when the application is done right they will sit properly in the water making for a great and subtle presentation. Now it's up to you, if you would like to tangle with a big Northern Pike through the ice, do your homework set up the time, the location, and with good fishing equipment you can make it happen. I have a deep love for Northern Pike and in particular the Big Northern Pike. Please, if one of these amazing fish decide to give you a worthy fight, please respect these fish. Get a photo and put them back quickly. They are there setting up for the spawn we must always make sure these fish have the chance to complete the spawn. With respect and care we can keep great fishing going and trophy fish available for generations to come.
Gary C Love / GCL Fishing