As the ice moves out and water temperatures creep up in Canadian lakes, early season anglers can expect to see ravenous northern pike lurking in the shallows, spoiling to smash anything resembling prey.
As a Marketing Director for Eppinger Lures, All-Canada Show sponsor and maker of the iconic “Dardevle,” John Cleveland has been successfully stalking monster Northerns on Canadian water for the last twelve years and recently offered some advice to anglers seeking to boat a few of the bruisers.
Following the opener, Cleveland suggests zeroing in on fairly shallow southern bays where the earliest warming takes place. Dark, muddy bottom structure is more likely to hold active fish than light colored sandy bottoms since the water warms more quickly there.
Cleveland is a huge fan of Eppinger Lures’ “Five of Diamonds” spoon all season long, and he‘s found, in general, dark colored lures will out fish lighter ones, though the classic red and white Dardevle should be a staple in any pike fisherman’s tackle box. Downsizing to ½ to ¾ oz. spoons is a good tactic in the spring, according to Cleveland, and a sporadic retrieve—letting the lure flutter down after every few turns of the crank can be a deadly technique. John’s terminal tackle usually includes a seven foot medium action rod paired with a spinning or casting reel and 20 pound test fluorocarbon line with a wire leader. “Pike are not leader-shy,” he contends.
Though fishing with spoons can produce plenty of exciting action, Cleveland also enjoys fly fishing for the bruisers. He has caught Northern Pike topping 45 inches using dark, leech-like flies which can be stripped in more slowly, teasing less active early season fish to strike. His fly fishing gear includes a 9 or 10 weight rod shooting an 80 pound fluorocarbon tippet. A catch and release angler, Cleveland mentioned fly fishermen can get by with equipment that is less stout, but he prefers to stress the fish as little as possible. During the spring, huge Northerns can often be sight-fished, sort of a Canadian version of salt flats fly fishing.
John also mentioned he was looking forward to trying Eppinger’s new “Spinnin’ Rex” on pike this year. The ½ oz. lure features a spinner blade and rubber skirt. Again, favoring darker colors, Cleveland recommends a root beer colored brass blade with a black skirt.
For more inside information, product information, and tips on using Eppinger Lures, visit www.eppinger.net or call toll free: 888-771-8277.