Coming out of winter hibernation can be both overwhelming and difficult. The days have been short, it has been cold, and snow and ice have covered the ground. As spring comes, the days slowly, almost achingly, grow longer. The temperature will get a little warmer, only to be sent back into a surprise freeze warning moments later. The snow and ice comes and goes, and then comes and goes. I find myself very confused. At the first sign of warmer weather, I usually put away my winter snow shoes and pull out my summer sandals. I then find myself walking around town in a half inch of snow in those same summer sandals, people staring and wondering why I am putting my toes through torture. Like I said, spring is an overwhelming and difficult time of year. Besides wanting to change shoes to quickly, I also want to participate in summer activities too soon, like swimming and water skiing. I always test the water too soon.
One thing you can do in the early spring though is northern pike fish! Northern pike are a cold water fish, and as soon as the ice melts from the lake they are ready to feast. Having spent a long winter in the dark, ice covered lake, pike are ready to hunt down shallow water fish along the edges of the lake. May is the best time to test your luck pike fishing because they are quite hungry after they finish their spawning period.
Found predominately in the northern United States and southern Canada, there are pike found in a lake north of the southern Utah town of Blanding. We took our boat down the first week in May after the banks were free of ice and went out for a day of early spring fishing.
Since pike have large teeth for a fish, most websites will recommend using a heavyleader, as pike can bite through your typical monofilament line. For our set-up, we used nothing more than a repala lure and trolled. My particular repala was the scatter cranck.
Some other gear to remember that is thoroughly important with pike is a net for pulling them out of the water, a pair of pliers, and somewhere to keep them, whether it is a cooler or a stringer. As I said previously, pike have large teeth and can bit you pretty good. You don’t want to be sticking your fingers in their mouth…and, in general, keep them away from your face in case they get the urge to grab on to something, say your nose. Pike are also VERY slimy, so you will want a net to help get them out of the water.
Pike are an ambush predator. They hide in rocky caves or tall, camouflaging plant growth and then rush out and snag fish. Their bodies, a light olive green color with small black spots and white bellies, are made to hide in the many colors found under the lake’s surface. They are also a highly aggressive fish that can quickly change from sitting patiently waiting to tearing through the water for food. For these reasons, we decided to troll the edges of the lake, especially near the rocky dam. The fishing was great. The moss was not.
I don’t know if other pike fishing is like how it is for me, but I have to say they are the most disappointing fight out there. I would have thought with this prehistoric, angry-looking, dinosaur fish predator I would receive a battle similar to, I don’t know, a shark. Instead, pike rush over, grab on to your lure, and then…..they sit there. If you miss the hit, you may not even know you have a fish on the line, as I did several times. Once I pulled my line out because I thought we had run through a mossy area and there was a pike on the end. He didn’t make a single movement as I pulled him to the boat.
A lot of people catch and release when they are pike fishing. People find, because of the Y bones, that cleaning pike is more trouble than the reward of eating them. I have practiced cleaning pike a few times and actually find them easier to clean than other fish because you don’t have to remove the scales. I also really enjoy pike. It is a great fish that doesn’t taste, for the lack of a better word, “fishy” and it has a great texture for barbecuing.
You know something I really, really hate? Having to pee on a boat. As a girl, it is especially difficult. Especially in the spring when the water is around 50 degrees and there is no option of taking a quick dip. For this reason, I try to limit my beverage consumption while boating. I like to stick to water, but I still wanted an adventure pairing for this outing. Beer was out of the question, even though I know fishing and beer go together like peas and carrots. I decided to go with a bottle of coke and some Jack Daniel’s whiskey. It is important you make sure to grab a 20 oz bottle of coke and not a can. Why? Because then you can add your whiskey to your coke and slowly, VERY SLOWLY, turn your coke over once or twice for mixing. No need for a glass or a spoon! For a snack, I had to go with my all time favorite boating snack, summer sausage and cheddar cheese! I love that stuff! Happy Hunting!