Dealing With Cold Front Pike
Something Old, Something New...
The something old is cold fronts; they've been around since the beginning of time. The something new is a lure to deal with those nasty fronts.
You were there. Just yesterday as the storm approached, the big pike went nuts! As the black clouds got closer, you could feel the change in the air and nearly every cast was attacked like there was no tomorrow.
That night, after a great meal, a couple of cold libations and a few games of cribbage, you lay in your warm sleeping bag and listened to the thunder and pouring rain and saw the lightning flashes in the cabin window. As you lay there, your mind drifts back to what transpired that day and brings a sense of pride.
OK. Back to reality. It's now the next day and it's colder. The wind is howling and it's raining hard. You head back to the bay where you scored so big yesterday, but it seems empty of life. So you try some other good spots. Nothing at the mouth of the incoming river. Nothing on the rocky points. Nothing on the windblown shorelines. No problem, you think, try out deep. Nothing on the drop offs, nothing at the base of the reefs and nothing out in the main lake basin. Now what?
I've known for a long time that when dealing with cold fronts it is best to downsize the lure offerings. This holds true for most species. And I've also been aware of the fact that big pike tend to head for cover when the weather turns nasty. I do the same thing!
On a recent trip to Nueltin Lake in northern Manitoba with John Cleveland, the Marketing Director for Eppinger, we experienced a similar scenario to the one previously described. It was very cold for July and driving rains were constant. We even got some hail which is uncommon for this area. Add to that mix some lightning and thunder and you end up with a recipe for very tough fishing.
I figured early on that the big pike would be buried in thick weed growth and our guide agreed. His solution to this problem was to drive the boat back into the weeds, making lots of noise and drive the pike out into more open water. And I'll admit that we did catch a few in this manner. But no big ones. When nothing happened he explained it away by stating nothing was in that weedbed. That is possible, but I believe it was more likely that by entering those weeds we just spooked any large pike and they were not thinking of anything but escape.
After a couple of days of this, John and I discussed other options to try. In the past I had found success by casting into the thick stuff instead of motoring through it. The problem has always been finding a lure that could make it through the tangled mess. I've had success with weedless plastics, but they get torn up too quickly. Johnson Silver Minnows have worked well, too, but all I had with me was the largest size and the weight caused it to sink too much.
It was then that John pulled out a small spoon that not only solved our problem, it did so in spades! This thing does not get hung up and goes through the jungle like nothing else I've found. After fishing it for awhile, John and I joked about calling it the "Teflon lure" because nothing sticks to it! I actually tried to get this lure snagged, and except for wrapping it around a willow branch, I couldn't.
The lure my friend John had is called a Spin-N-Rex, which is a modified form of the Rex Spoon. This one had a small spinner blade on the front which did alter the action of the spoon, but it sure didn't hurt it any. John showed me two models of the lure. One had feathers on the rear, but only had a 2/0 hook which looked too small to me. The other one came with a skirt and sported a 3/0 hook. I chose the latter and it did a good job of hooking up.
So, armed with this new weapon, John and I headed for the thickest weed growth we could find. Nueltin is a big pike factory and is lined with tall reeds. John and I started casting back into these 3 foot tall reeds and I was surprised at how well that little spoon made its way through the growth. It wasn't long before I had one blow up on it, but as is often the case in this thick of growth, it missed. But on my follow-up cast she nailed it. She momentarily dove into the cover and then luckily for me, she swam into open water to do battle. This was a heavy fish that weighed well over 20 pounds. After quickly photographing her, we released her and kept casting into the jungle. Sometimes they would strike at the lure in the weeds and other times they would follow it out to open water before attacking it. This was the case for John. We watched a big fish follow his little spoon out of the weeds and suddenly John set the hook hard. His rod bent nearly double and my buddy John was onto a big pike. As she swam past, John remarked that this could be his biggest pike ever. Some exciting moments followed, but John expertly handled the fish and soon enough he led it into the cradle. Following high fives and a few excited rebel yells, we photographed the pike and turned it loose.
And so it went for the rest of our visit to Nueltin Lake. It remained cold and those little Spin-N-Rex spoons saved the trip for us. We both caught plenty of pike and even ended up with the largest pike in the camp during our stay there, all thanks to that little spoon named Spin-N-Rex.
So if you are heading to big pike country, I'd strongly suggest packing a couple of these small spoons in your box just in case you run into the dreaded cold front conditions like we did. Don't be afraid of casting them way back into the thick stuff, but use stout tackle. You'll need it if they bury up in those weeds.
If you have any trouble locating these wonder spoons, give Eppinger a call at 888-771-8277. They'll fix you right up.