Spring is a lively and a prime fishing time for northern pike on the French River. In Northern Ontario, after the spawn is a period that offers excellent odds for catching trophies; as well as catching copious amounts of energetic young-lings. Depending on weather and water temperatures, a variety of fishing patterns and baits are effective to reel in the new season.
In the early spring, pike migrate into warmer waters of tributaries, bays and sloughs when water temps are above 40°F (4.5°C). Targeting pike in funneled areas boosts your odds for catching. Structures like channel edges, points, old weed lines to rock piles are prime areas to fish first in the spring.
When the water temperatures on the French River reach 55 – 60°F (12.8 – 15.6°C), pike begin feeding heavily. Fresh green vegetation is your best friend when on the hunt for trophy pike; especially in depths of 5 – 8 feet (1.5 – 2.5 metres) or more. Developing bulrushes in shallower waters hold their fair share of pike as well.
For post spawn spring pike, subsurface jerkbaits with a slow and gentle side-to-side action are a great start. Another good tactic is to toss plastic minnows and grubs on 1/4 or 1/2 oz jigs outside weed edges. Unlike summer time fishing, slower retrieves mimic tired and dying bait fish. For a hungry pike, anything that’s an easy meal is worth striking. Also, cast an area thoroughly when the water is cold. Pike do not move as much or as apt to chase as they are in warm waters. A slower retrieve is necessary here.
If waters are high on the French River and vegetation then start knocking-wood. Commonly a bass fishing tactic, in early spring and high water pike like many other game fish will seek cover. Woody tangles of fallen trees and docks bordering drop offs are prime fishing areas. Landing a trophy pike out of heavily wooden structure can be tricky. Therefore, a great tactic is to use floating crankbaits that cast well and swim easily through the woody structure. Pike aren’t particularly fussy in wooden cover but the brighter and flashier the lure, the better.
A simple classic is also one of the most tantalizing meals for pike. This tactic is more commonly used for trophy pike fishing in the early spring. Bait fish like minnows, shiners and sucker are tasty treats for hungry post spawn pike. Normally live bait is used with a bobber and 3 – 4 feet of line to suspended for the bait fish in the turbid waters.
Some other quick notes with using live bait for French River spring pike are:
The best spring pike tactic is the one you’re comfortable with and happens to be working in the moment. For more information, presentations and lures to experiment with see this article.
Authored by: Joe Barefoot, M.B., Nationally Published Outdoor Writer, Blogger, Guide, Outfitter who enjoys fishing and the outdoors.
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