- Mouths of swampy inlets make good starting points, but you'll probably catch more pike in the flats just offshore. Find one where the depth is 3 to 10 feet.Pike might have traveled up the inlet to spawn and will now be drifting out into the bay. These flats serve as staging spots for spawning panfish orbait-fish, or gathering spots for any trout (or juvenile salmon or steelhead)that may swim down following an upstream stocking. Like the local Elks Club ata barbecue, pike may not have the schedule down, but they know where the food is.
- Ice-out pike gravitate to secondary coves, areas that warm before the main bay.In fact, pike might have spawned in the marshy shallows or flooded timber at the edges of such spots. Fish the flats at the mouths of these coves within-line spinners.
- Prominent shoreline structures—beaver dams, flooded timbers, downed trees—always deserve at least a few casts. Work your way in, combing the flats in front with an in-line spinner. This is a good spot for lunch; cast out a bobber and minnow while you're eating a sandwich.
- As the spring sun warms the bay, weeds grow and pike orient to cover near dropoffs. Weedy points make particularly good fishing spots, as do mid-bay weed shoals. Search adjacent waters with an in-line spinner, flutter-retrieve a spoon, or stop and start a spinnerbait along the edges of the weeds. If the water is calm, try your topwater lures.
- Deeper weedlines with access to deep water are the last spots on the springtour. Find the 6- to 10-foot break. In general, pike over 10 pounds are the first to vacate the shallows for cooler water. This edge is the spot to try ajig and worm, or perhaps to flutter-retrieve a spoon.
BOBBER RIG When you're fishing near a prominent obstruction, around the mouth of a tributary, or over weeds, using a bobber is a good approach (you want it as small as possible to minimize the resistance when a pike takes the bait and runs). Rig a bait in the 6- to 12-inch range on a size 1/0 hook, with a snelled wire leader attached to a snap-swivel. Position the float so that it holds the bait, hooked lightly through the back, a foot or two above the weeds. Give the pike a couple of minutes to turn the bait around in its mouth before you set the hook.
DRIFT RIG Cover long sections of definable structures such as weed edges, drop-offs, or shorelines. A 6-inch minnow hooked through the lips with a size 1 hook is about right. Match the sinker weight to the speed of the drift and the depth,starting with a single light split shot and adding until you hit bottom—or fish. When you get a bite, drop the rod tip, open the bail, give a 10 count,reel in slack, and set the hook. You may need to allow extra time with bigger baits, but if you wait too long, the fish will either swallow the hook or feel the sinker catch in the grass as it runs and will drop the bait.
JIG AND MINNOW Hook a 4-inch minnow through the head, from the bottom to the top. Use a full(2- to 3-foot) but slow jigging motion and be ready for a strike on the fall.When a fish hits, drop the rod tip for a moment, then set the hook hard.Jig-heads in the ¼- to ½-ounce range seem to provide the best minnow action,but it's more important to adjust for the depth and speed of the drift.