The Great Pike Theory
As the long winter is finally making way for spring, I find myself far from the familiar stretches of my home river. Instead, I’ve sought a hideout amidst the greater lakes of Sweden. I’ve come here for a reason: to understand the mind of the pike. Where do they hide? How do they behave? And I think I’m getting closer to the ultimate truth. This is a story of me chasing the big spring pikes – and trying to devise a theory out of it.
Knowing the Map
A common feeling when standing on the shore of a larger lake: how incredibly small you feel. What looks like a small spec of blue on a map often turns out to be an impressive body of water, far from what you imagined. Nevertheless, getting to know the maps is always worth the trouble. Combined with the information provided by the sonar, having the maps of the area helps you plot your course right where the fish are while avoiding the risky areas.
Use the information provided by satellite pictures and charts to get an idea of the shape and depth of the lake. The overview can help a great deal while planning your fishing trip.
And now for the theory. It’s basically about breaking down how pikes move around during the springtime. Usually, pikes spend their winter months further out in the archipelago. However, as the spring rolls in, the pikes’ biological clock starts ticking, telling them to haul their tails to the spawning grounds. I believe there’s a pattern to it – one that’s very clear and easy to follow.
Here’s my walkthrough of the theory – a list of pikes’ whens and wheres. Their itinerary, so to speak. Built on my personal notes and observations, this is a strategy for those who target spring pike with spinning gear. By working your way through these steps, it’s possible to find pike on each step along the way. It’s a lengthy process, but if you hit the right time windows, you’ll be in for some amazing fishing.
Step 1: The pikes’ winter hideouts in the archipelago. Depth around 8-10 meters.
Step 2: The underwater structures and stony plateaus outside the spawning grounds. Depth 4-6 meters.
Step 3: The wedge-shaped path leading to the second line of underwater structures outside the spawning grounds.
Step 4: The second line of underwater structures outside the spawning bays. Depth 2,5-3 meters on the shallow plateaus.
Step 5: The shallow and vegetated areas that lead right to the weed lines in the spawning grounds.
Step 6: These are the pikes’ spawning grounds – a place I prefer to leave untouched during the spring.
When it comes to gear, similar principles apply – preparation is the key. If possible, have a couple of pre-rigged setups in the boat. These are the setups I usually have with me.
Setup 1: Muse Black (9,1”, 170 g) from 13 Fishing. A longer rod with fast action and excellent sensitivity – an excellent choice for long casting. I use this rod for plastic lures, like the T-Bone (23 cm) or V-Slab from Storm.
Setup 2: Fate Black (8,6”, 130 g) from 13 Fishing. A powerful rod for lures like the X-Rap® Peto, X-Rap® Otus, Super Shadow Rap® – or sometimes even for the X-Rap® Haku. I use both this and the Muse Black with the amazing Concept A3 reel from 13 Fishing.
Setup 3: A spinning rod (8,6”, 40-130 g) with 13 Fishing’s Creed GT 4000 reel. A true favorite when fishing lures like the downsized X-Rap Peto and X-Rap Otus. It also works like a dream when fishing fast with the Twitchin' Rap or just retrieving with the X-Rap® Jointed Shad.
So, how to apply these setups with the previously presented theory? I’m glad you asked! At steps 1 and 2, I do most of my fishing with the T-Bone or the X-Rap Otus. A weighted down X-Rap Peto (20 cm) is an excellent choice, as well. Fishing the deeper waters with a slow retrieve gives your lure enough time in the strike zone.
At steps 3 and 4, it’s time to put more effort in – that’s when I bring in the Super Shadow Rap or the X-Rap Haku. Here, I tend to spice things up a bit. Faster fishing, but longer pauses. A shallow rigged X-Rap Peto (20 cm) can also bring incredible results, especially in the Smelt On The Beach (SMB) color.
For me, the last stop is step 5. Here’s where I take out the spinning rod and the smaller lures. The downsized X-Rap Peto and X-Rap Otus are great choices, as is the X-Rap Twitchin’ Shad. A new favorite for me has been the X-Rap Jointed Shad. In these shallower waters, faster retrieves with quick pauses have proven effective.
From the Depths to the Shallows
So, there you have it – the theory. By using this outline, you can introduce some strategic elements to your pike fishing. Start from the deep areas and work your way to the spawning grounds. If you have a lot of time on your hands, you can go through all the steps. Speaking from my experience, you can speed up the process if you’re fishing in areas where great depths quickly turn into areas with a lot of underwater structures and plateaus. Here, the underwater traffic is hectic as the fish move in and out of the different parts of the area. Before you know it, you’ll find new fish in an already familiar spot!
Of course, it all seems so simple when putting it on paper. But we all know how fishing is. You can never have everything figured out because each day on the water is different from the others. But here’s an outline of how I’ve learned to approach it – my method of chasing the biggest and baddest spring pikes!