Top 5 Early Season Pike Presentations

Top 5 Early Season Pike Presentations

So…. in these crazy Pandemic times, we are all wondering when it will be safe to get back to our favourite sport called fishing. It’s not if, it’s WHEN we get that. Hang tough.

In the meantime, we’re going to give you our suggestions for hitting the shallows early in the year and going Pike fishing. This may not pertain to the 2020 season due to your location, the timing or the current emergency state we’re in, but it certainly does for years to come.

Remember too, that early season Pike in southern Canada differs greatly from the extreme north. Late April (if the season is open) compared to late June (Yukon, NWT, Nunavut) is a huge difference.


Northern Pike are synonymous for being big, bad and nasty. The perception is big fish eat big baits. That is true to a point (Pike eating ducks, muskrats etc) however early in the season, you might be batting zero if you fully stick to that mind-frame.

Our team of specialists (well… our team of two… Angelo and Pete that is) have dealt with early-season Northern Pike fishing from east to west and north to south, in Canadian waters. In doing so, they have either had to think off-the-cuff and let the process of elimination steer them or, they have relied on experts like lodge guides or Esox specialists.

All of the below suggestions are used in the context of shallow water situations.

As with most of our Top 5 web articles, these choices are in no particular order and are merely suggestions from our two hosts. Here is our Top 5 Early Season Pike Presentations!


If we had a top 3 list and possibly even a top 2 list, an inline spinner would still be on both. That’s how strongly believe in the lure for an early season Pike choice.

Here’s the kicker though, a #3 would be at the larger end of the choice.

“I remember way back on a northern Saskatchewan shoot early in the season,” says Pete “when Reno Viola, Ang’s brother and I were fishing a well-known trophy Pike lake. This is a place known for BIG Pike (Lake Trout too but we were there for early season Pike). After a day and a half of catching great average-sized fish of up to around 15 pounds (not big for up there) and in desperate mode to catch a 20lb plus fish, our guides kept telling us to put on a small spinner. At first, we did the usual yeah right but then thought about it, figured it sounded legit and made the change. That last-ditch effort put the biggest Pike on camera during that shoot.”

Since then, our guys have experimented quite a bit and have come up with their own particular parameters.

  • #2 or #3 blade sizes are the best of all worlds
  • gold or silver are the two best colours (subtle is the key) the old adage of gold on overcast days and silver on sunny days works pretty well here.
  • plain undressed hooks are the first choice, a small black, brown or white dressing would be next.
  • If we could use just one spinner/brand it would be a Mepps Aglia #3

NOTE: Want double trouble inline for when the fishing starts to heat up, then check out this beast!

Go here to see the different types of spinner blades


A suspending Jerkbait is an obvious choice for Pike fishing any time of the year and it holds true for the first of the season.

The beauty of the Jerkbait is the pausing quality.

Pike are an ultimate predator, big fat and nasty, with a mouthful of razor-sharp teeth. With all that weaponry, one would think that Pike would haphazardly smash anything and everything instantly.

That, however, is not true.

Pike often, for some strange reason like to follow their prey and wait for that perfect moment to strike (it might be a game to them, or it’s simply the way it is. Regardless, they do it a lot!)

That’s where a suspending Jerkbait comes in.

We’re always looking and learning when it comes to fishing. Many years back they were at a lodge and a group of fly fishermen were scoring large on big Pike. After an urgent huddle, we figured the pause in a fly retrieve “could” be the key.

We think we were right. That’s when it all started to click.

The pause and the suspending quality of the jerkbait are the ticket.

Next, we looked at the shape of the flies. They were big for flies, but small for lures. The main bodies were around 5” long and the colour patterns that were working at the time were pretty basic.

Hence that’s the reason we came up with a 5” appx. model. The smaller (as like the spinner above) profile seems to be better early in the year.

So far we haven’t found anything that beats a gold or natural coloured, size 12 Husky Jerk

Gord Pyzer gives you his lowdown on the Jerkbait here

If you have other Pike killers that have worked for you, please let us know as we’d love to add them to our arsenal.


This one may surprise you but it’s very time-specific. Yes, time-wise we are already talking about early in the season but we believe the Buzzer has a time within a time variance.

Try and keep that Buzzbait out of the water in the morning. It will pick up a fish or two, however, there are many better lure choices for earlier in the day.

On those warm spring afternoons, however, with the sun shining down and the water temps on the rise, a Buzzbait can be a killer. It covers lots of water and it ticks Pike off!

One of our main reasons for liking this type of bait is, it comes in at a steady retrieve and believe it or not, it can be slowed down (somewhat but not too much) driving Pike crazy.

The strikes that occur from a Northern Pike eating a Buzzbait are like no other. As they say, “it’s worth the price of admission!”

Good early Buzzbait colours are black, white and chartreuse and if you can a find red blade for the black skirted bait, even better.

A killer Buzzbait that we recommend is Megastrike’s Cavitron Buzzbait. It makes a great sound, has a water flow through the holes in the blades which add to the noise and bubble trail, and finally, best of all, it can be worked nicely and slowly. If you are having a hard time finding them, try this link.

One last Buzzbait tip: Every now and then, give the bait an extra, short and quick “pull” towards you. One little “zip” and then back to a steady retrieve… trust us on this one.


We dare not leave out the #1 north-country lure choice of all time in this piece. No matter where we’ve travelled in the entire nation, a spoon has always played some kind of role in the catching of Pike.

Spoons work great early in the year but again, be prepared to possibly downsize a bit. This is the one bait Ang and Pete recommend bringing all sizes with you. If the Pike are anywhere near active, a big spoon will nab you a big fish. However again, if times get sour and a front sets in, drop down a few sizes to something around 3 inches long. You’re be surprised at how big a Northern will hit a small spoon.

As for colours?

  • Red & white… always have some
  • Five Of Diamonds (yellow with red)
  • Silver or Silver Blue or Silver with Green Glow
  • Gold or Gold Chartreuse or Gold Fluorescent Orange
  • Silver Gold combo

There are thousands of spoon colours out there and quite honestly most will work, but the above are our go-to colours.

Len Thompson and Daredevil/Eppinger are two great manufacturers of Pike spoons.


Ok we cheated, we mentioned 6 instead of 5 but that’s because we feel these next two are tied and both need to be here. Read on:


Here’s one that you might not have thought of; a crankbait that runs no more than about 3 feet deep.

Just like a spoon, a crankbait has a slow wobbling action that seems to drive Pike nuts (see the correlation?).

Here’s where we somewhat differ from the other baits listed, with a shallow crankbait, we actually like brighter colours. Not sure why, but chartreuse, orange, yellow and red all have their place here. IF however, the Pike is not ramming your colourful offer, then you can try a mellower coloured version (natural patterns).

Finding larger, shallow running cranks can sometimes be difficult. The bigger Bass crankbaits work well here. Baits like the Strike King KVD SquarebillManns 1 Minus and at the bigger end of shallow crankbaits, the Livingston Bulldozer. All of these run that nice slow, back and forth wobble that drive Pike nuts. Of course, there’s an array of other crankbaits to chose from.

The crankbait is a fun lure to use early in the year. You fire out a long bomb cast, engage the reel and “slowly” creep that bait in putting in ever so gentle pulls and stops (remember the jerk bait section where pauses are a big deal???). A slight variance in the retrieve is key. The fun part is, when a Pike strikes, it’s either full-on nearly rips the rod from your hands or they simply slack-line you (they grab the bait and swim towards you, thus creating slack in your line).

Set the hook, make sure the drag is set properly for long runs, and hang on!


We love swimbaits for a lot of different species and Pike is one of them. Pete got onto a great swimbait bite in Saskatchewan on Long Mountain Lake during the filming of a past Fish’n Canada episode.

He tried a variety of different lures, however, it was the Swimbait that ruled. In fact, it happened twice at that location.

Of course, Pete and Ang have tried it other places since then and in the right circumstances, Swimbaits rock!

Again, we suggest smaller profile baits early in the season.

On the larger side, try something like a 5″ Big Hammer (what Pete used in Sask.) It’s not long but it’s deep from back to belly. For a thinner profile try a Keitech or a Jackall in the 4.5″ to 6″ range.

A slow steady retrieve works perfectly for Swimbaits. The tail action is all you need in the cool water.


Leaders: Your leader choice is important. For instance, too heavy a leader (weight wise) will pull down a suspending Jerkbait. Too light a leader in strength for lures like Spoons and Crankbaits could break (we’ve actually had this happen).

  • Bring along different types, lengths and strengths of leaders. 12lb test to 50lb test is a good range
  • Make your own heavy fluorocarbon leaders with quality components, 50lb and stronger is a good reference point. Add a swivel only when necessary, i.e. spinners and spoons will twist your line, crankbaits, buzz baits and Jerkbaits won’t.
  • Bring along some ty-able leader material like Knot Too Kinky just be sure to tie a proper knot from your main-line to this material. That is the critical breaking point.
  • The suspending jerk bait is the most crucial of all the suggested baits to have the properly sized leader. Experiment to see which affects the lure’s action the least.


  • Make sure all the hooks on your baits are not only sharp, but they are strong! We get that a #3 inline spinner has a somewhat smaller hook than we’d normally use for big Pike but that’s the exception. With the crankbait for instance, beef up the trebles a touch with thicker stronger hooks


  • For the above presentations, we highly recommend baitcasting outfits. You can get away with spinning however baitcasting gear is the way to go. It’s simply stronger and more efficient for these types of lures. Try medium-heavy rods vs heavy rods. The extra flex in the upper section (towards the tip) helps for casting and fighting fish.


  • Line type on your reel is a personal preference so we won’t go into detail here. Remember though, braid has no stretch. This is good and not so good. All of the baits mentioned are steadily retrieved baits so if you are going to use braid, then that medium action in the rod mentioned above becomes even more important.


If you get the chance this year (being safe and abiding by all rules during the pandemic) to hit the water for early Northern Pike, then prep yourself with some or all of the above suggestions. They have worked for us for many years, and continue to do so day in and day out.

If you can’t get out on the water early enough this season, bookmark this article because we guarantee you, it’s TIMELESS!!!

Take care.

23 Responses

  1. As per usual this episode is great and has some great tips for early season pike and I have caught many on the red and white spoon and 5 diamonds and a few large ones on the natural colour rapala4 1/2 to 6 in. Thanks against and Pete

    1. I’ve definitely used lots of Len Thompsons for early Pike in a variety of sizes and colours however only occasionally with the Cleo’s, probably my mistake. They work on everything else, why not Pike. Thanks for the tip! BTW that Cleo you use is a great Brook Trout spoon as well!

Leave a Reply

Top 5 Early Season Pike Presentations





  1. SPONSORS:  The Great Ontario Getaway Giveaway, also referred to as (GOGG) or (the Contest) or (the “Contests”) is sponsored by Fish’n Canada Ltd, Destination Northern Ontario and Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario.
  2. ENTRANTS: There are 3 ways to play the GOGG. As a contestant, as a voter or as both.
  3. HOW TO ENTER AS A CONTESTANT: The GOGG is a series of Photo/Video monthly contests. You can enter by navigating to website and follow the link to the Great Ontario Getaway Giveaway contest page. For this Contest, receipt of an internet entry occurs when servers record the entry information. Entry information includes, but not limited to, a photo or 60 second video submission, a short 300-character story and personal data such as name, address, phone number and email address. All entries must be complete and are subject to verification by the Sponsors, and in their sole discretion can accept  or refuse any such entries. Limit 1 Photo/Video entry per monthly contest. By entering the contest, you agree to receive emails from the “Sponsors” about but not limited to News, Offers, Tips and other promotional materials. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking ‘UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THIS LIST’.


  1. HOW TO ENTER AS A VOTER: You can enter by navigating to website and follow the link to the Great Ontario Getaway Giveaway contest page. For this Contest, receipt of a vote occurs when servers record the entry information. Entry information includes, but not limited to, a vote for a particular contestant and your personal data such as name, address, phone number and email address.  All votes are subject to verification by the Sponsors, and in their sole discretion can accept  or refuse any such vote. Maximum votes per day is 5 with a 1 vote per day per contestant limit. Voters can enter 5 new votes each 24-hour period for the duration of the contests. Each vote will be converted to a ballot which will be accumulated throughout the GOGG contests and count towards the Grand Finale draw. By entering the contest, you agree to receive emails from the “Sponsors” about but not limited to News, Offers, Tips and other promotional materials. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking ‘UNSUBSCRIBE FROM THIS LIST’.
  2. ELIGIBILITY: GOGG is open to legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority in their province or territory of residence at the time of entry, with the exception of employees of the Sponsors, related and affiliated companies, subsidiaries, departments or agencies, franchisees, suppliers, advertising and promotional agencies, contest administrators, and any other parties engaged in the development, production or distribution of Contest materials and those living in the same household.  By participating in this Contest, entrants acknowledge compliance with, and agree to be bound by, these Contest Rules.  Entrants who do not comply with any of the Contest Rules are subject to disqualification by the Sponsors, in the Sponsor’s sole discretion. Prize winners are only eligible to win 1 (one) prize for the duration of the contests. Once an entrant is selected as a segment winner, they are not eligible to win a contest prize again.
  3. CONTEST DATES AND TIMES: The contests begin on April 1st, 2021 at 3:00pm EST and end on August 31st. 2021 at 3:00pm EST after which time the contest will be closed and no further entries shall be accepted.


  1. CAUSE FOR DISQUALIFICATION: Any attempt or suspected attempt to use robotic, automatic, programmed, or otherwise, illicit means to enter the Contest, or any other methods not authorized by these Contest Rules, for example, but not limited to, creating multiple accounts, identities, or registrations, all in the Sponsor’s sole discretion, shall be deemed as tampering and may disqualify you from entering, participating and/or winning a prize.  Entries that contain false or incomplete information are void.  Entries that are late, lost, stolen, illegible, contain false information, are damaged, misdirected, mutilated, garbled or incomplete, altered or otherwise irregular or that do not conform with or satisfy any or all of the conditions of the Contest Rules are void.  Entrants grant Sponsor a non-exclusive license to use all entries for any purpose.  No correspondence will be entered into except with selected entrants.  Proof of transmission (screenshots or captures, etc.) does not constitute proof of entry or receipt of an entry.


  1. CONTEST PRIZES: consists of an all-expense paid trip for two to a northern Ontario lodge/resort. These trips will include accommodations, all meals and select nonalcoholic beverages along with boats, motors live bait and guiding services (where available). If the selected lodge does not offer some or any of these amenities they will not apply and may be substituted with other amenities. In the case of a fly-in destination this trip may also include transportation from a predetermined starting point (hub) to the selected lodge/resort and back again. All expense paid does not include costs of travel from the winners starting point to the predetermined hub. All expense paid does not include alcoholic beverages or Ontario fishing license. Prizes are none transferable and must be accepted as awarded and have no cash value.  Prizes or any portion thereof cannot be combined with other discounts, promotions or special offers.  Sponsor reserves the right to substitute an alternate prize of equal or greater value if an advertised prize is unavailable at time of award.


  1. ODDS OF WINNING: The odds of winning the Grand Finale draw prizes is dependent  on the number of eligible votes/ballots submitted before the Contest End Date. The more qualified ballots a contestant or voter enters into the virtual random draw increases the odds of winning.


  1. SKILL TESTING QUESTION: Winning Contestants and winning Voters will be required, as a condition to winning a Prize, to correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, a skill testing question.


  1. WINNER SELECTION AND CONFIRMATION: 5 Winning Contestants will be declared each month starting April 30th at 3pm EST on the site. Subsequent Winning Contestants will be announced on site and social media array. Winners are declared based on total votes they receive for the month. Top 5 vote getters will win the monthly prizes. In the event of a tie the tie breaker will be based on the time the winning vote was cast and will bump the loosing Entrant down one position in the standings or in the case of a tie for the fifth spot the loosing Entrant will be knocked out of the top 5 and not be eligible for a prize.  


After the final monthly segment and all 25 Winning Contestants have been determined based on votes, all accumulated votes and entries from all segments, excluding the 25 monthly Winning Contestants, will be converted into ballots and will go into a virtual drum from which additional prize winners will be drawn, these additional prize winners are called Selected Winners.  The Sponsor, or an employee, agent or other representative of the Sponsor, will conduct a virtual drum random draw from all eligible entries and select the Grand Finale winners.  The Grand Finale winners or Selected Winners will be deemed winners if they meet all the eligibility criteria set out in these Contest Rules.  If a Grand Finale winner does not meet the eligibility criteria, he/she will be disqualified and will not receive a prize and another entrant will be selected by way of a random virtual drum draw from the remaining eligible entries.  Before being declared an official winner, a Grand Finale winner will be required to: (i) sign and return the Sponsor’s Declaration of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release form; and (ii) comply with all other Contest Rules, all in the sole discretion of Sponsor.

The Winning Contestants of the monthly segments and the Selected Winners of the Grand Finale Prize of the GOGG will be notified within one (1) business day of the official declaration of their win via telephone number and/or email address provided at the time of entry into the Contest. In the Sponsor’s sole discretion, up to three attempts will be made within 36 hours following the draw.  A prize winner that does not or cannot respond and accept the Prize within this predetermined time frame will forfeit their win and therefore will not be eligible to receive the prize. The Sponsor’s signed release form must be received by Sponsor no later than 2 days following receipt of the release form. The  Sponsor is not responsible for the failure for any reason whatsoever of a Selected or Winning Contestant  to receive notification or for the Sponsor to receive a response. All winners assume any and all liability for any injury or damage caused, or claimed to be caused, by entering, participating in this promotion or use or redemption of a prize.

  1. DISPUTES REGARDING IDENTITY OF ENTRANT: If the identity of a Selected Entrant is disputed, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the Authorized Account Holder (the individual assigned to the e-mail address or, if applicable for entry, social media handle associated with the entry).  Each Selected Entrant may be required to provide proof that he/she is the Authorized Account Holder associated with the selected entry.


  1. RELEASE AND INDEMNIFICATION: The winner must sign the Sponsor’s Declaration of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release form to: (i) confirm compliance with the Contest Rules; (ii) agree to accept the prize as awarded; (iii) release, discharge and hold harmless the Sponsor, its departments and agencies, parent, related and affiliated companies, subsidiaries, franchisees, advertising and promotional agencies, counsel, marketing partners, and each of their respective directors, officers, employees, shareholders, successors, sponsors, partners, licensees, subsidiaries, agents, artists, advisors, assignees, and all others associated with the administration, development and execution of the Contest (the “Released Parties”) from and against any and all manner of action, cause of action, claim or demand, loss or injury, use or misuse of a prize or any travel related thereto, and the use of the Entry by the Sponsor, suit, debt, covenant, contract, including legal fees and expenses, whatsoever, including but not limited to, claims based on negligence, breach of contract and fundamental breach, failure of any third party contractor or supplier used in connection with any aspect of the Contest to perform or deliver any goods or services, any act of God or any other event beyond the Released Parties’ control, any dissatisfaction of any kind by a winner with any aspect of the Contest or any prize, liability for physical injury, death, or property damage which the entrants, guests, their heirs, successors or assigns have, might have or could have suffered, by reason of or arising out of the entrant’s participation in the Contest and/or in connection with the acceptance and/or exercise by the entrant of the Prize as awarded; and (iv) indemnify the Released Parties against any loss, damage or expense, including legal fees, that any of the Released Parties may suffer or incur as a result of any non-compliance by an entrant with any of the Contest Rules or participation in the Contest and/or in connection with the acceptance and/or exercise by an entrant of a prize and the use of the Entry by Sponsor.


  1. THE SPONSOR IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR: (i) incorrect or inaccurate entry information which may affect a person’s ability to participate in the Contest or be awarded a prize, including but not limited to human error, technical malfunctions, lost or delayed entries for any reason, mail failures, omission, or any combination thereof, and entries which fail to fully comply with these Contest Rules; (ii) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (iii) lost, incomplete, delayed, mutilated or misdirected entries or Declaration and Release forms; (iv) injury or damage to the entrant’s computer or to any other individual’s computer related to or resulting from participating in, or downloading any material regarding the Contest or accepting a prize; (v) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Contest or receipt or use or misuse of any prize, including any travel related thereto and the use of the Entry by Sponsor; (vi) the security or privacy of information transmitted via computer networks or for breaches of privacy due to interference by third party computer “hackers” or otherwise; or (vii) late, lost, misdirected or unsuccessful efforts to notify a potential winner.


  1. OTHER CONDITIONS:  The Sponsor reserves the right to terminate or amend this Contest at any time and in any way, without prior notice.  Without limiting the foregoing, if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as originally planned for any reason, the Sponsor reserves the right to cancel the Contest and conduct a random draw from all previously received eligible entries received by the Contest End Date.


  1. PUBLICITY AND ENTRANT INFORMATION: By participating in the Contest, entrant consent to the use of their name, address, postal code, telephone number, social media handles, comments, and image, whether on videotape, photograph or any other means, for the administration of this Contest or any publicity carried out by the Sponsor, without further notice or compensation.





  1. LAW: The Contest is void where prohibited by law and is subject to all applicable Canadian federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and local laws. This Contest shall be governed exclusively by the laws of the province of Ontario including all issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Contest Rules, rights and obligations between entrants and the Sponsor, and procedural provisions, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules.  Any dispute shall be adjudicated by the courts sitting in Oshawa, Ontario.

This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with

              Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn or Google.

             The participants understand that it is providing information solely to the sponsors of the   

             GOGG contest and


  1. RULE AMENDMENTS: The Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to amend  

             or modify these Contest Rules, or modify, cancel or suspend this Contest, without prior

             notice for any reason whatsoever, including without limitation in the event that any cause

             beyond the reasonable control of the Sponsor corrupts, or threatens to corrupt, the

             security or proper administration of the Contest.


             INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: All intellectual property, including but not limited to

             trademarks, logos, designs, promotional materials, web pages, source codes, images,

             drawings, illustrations, slogans and representations are owned by the Sponsor.  All rights

             are reserved.  Unauthorized copying or use of any copyrighted material or other

             intellectual property without the express written consent of the Sponsor is strictly

             prohibited.  The Sponsor’s marketing or other partners, if any, shall also have access to

             and rights to reproduce, copy or otherwise use any materials generated by this Contest or

             any submissions or materials generated by entrants.

             © Fish’n Canada 2021.  All Rights Reserved.