First, it's important to understand why pike are susceptible this time of year. Pike are early spawners. By the time walleyes are spawning, the pike have completed the spawn. The spawn is a tiring experience for pike, so after the spawn, they take several days to recover. Once recovered, they're hungry. Hungry fish can be willing biters. If we put a bait near a hungry fish, we're going to have a chance to catch that fish.
Pike spawn in water that has vegetation. Stained water is usually better for the spawn. Stained water warms faster, and it seems like most fish are less wary in stained water. After the spawn, the pike will hang around the spawning areas. They might move a little deeper, but they'll be near the spawning area.
Look for pike in bays that have shallow vegetation, but also are close to deeper water. Current provided by an incoming river can make an area even better. In stained water, three or four feet is all the depth you need to hold numbers of big pike.
Once you locate an area that you suspect holds pike, you need to start throwing a bait around. There are several baits that will work, but many pike chasers will start with a spinnerbait. A Magnum Reed-Runner spinnerbait would be an outstanding choice. The blades on this bait turn even at slow speeds, and a slower retrieve is better this time of year. The Magnum Reed-Runner also comes with a trailer hook. Put a four inch Power Grub on the trailer. Bright colors are usually better in stained water.
If you think you're in good pike water, but they're not eating the spinnerbait, go to a slower moving bait like a Gulp! or Gulp! Alive Jerk Shad in the five inch size. The PowerBait Power Jerk Shad is another good bait for pike in this situation. Rig it with the hook exposed on a Lip-Stick Worm Hook, about the 4/0 size. I like a white bait because it's easier for me to see in the water. Sometimes you'll see your bait disappear as it comes through the water. When the bait disappears, set the hook.
We're using heavy tackle to work these baits. When a big pike hits, you need to try to get it under control right away. A Fenwick or Lightning Rod Flippin' Rod are both great rods for this technique. You'll want a minimum of seventeen pound test Trilene XT or Maxx if you go with monofilament. Thirty to fifty pound test FireLine is the way to go if you want the ultimate in sensitivity and hook-setting ability.
For a little bit of variety, if you're on good pike water in May or early June, give northern pike a try. If there are pike present and you get a few to bite, you'll probably find yourself chasing them more.
Photos courtesy of Paul Shipman FishGator.com