Most pike waters have only limited spawning
habitat for the pike and if you are not in one of
these places your chances of catching are severely
reduced. So my aim this week is to try and point you
in the right direction. With a little bit of effort
the Spring haunt of the pike can be quite easy to find
and can bring superb results.

Pike will begin to think about spawning several weeks
before actually committing themselves. The eggs take
quite a while to develop, and as the hormones begin to
kick in the fish will start to move. Pike need shallow
weedy areas in which to spawn. Depths of less than
three metres tend to be favoured, and if present,
dense beds of soft weeds, such as Canadian pond weed
are favoured. If this type of weed isn't present, then
they will use just about any plant material. Look out
for exposed tree roots, reed beds and sunken trees.
All may be used if there is nothing else available.
Pike are generally quite difficult to spot while
actually spawning. Try looking for gentle swirls in
the margins first thing in the morning, or last thing
at night through the month of March. This will give
you some idea of where to fish the following year.

While actually spawning pike tend not to feed. What
you are actually looking for are the areas that the
fish will hold up in while they wait for conditions to
become just right. Once again, the areas we are
looking for are normally the same on a wide variety of
waters. Pike will seek out deeper water where they
will feel safer, and which will also give them a point
to ambush passing prey. These drop-offs can be found
with a plummet on smaller waters, but on some of the
big lakes in Scotland and the Lake District I prefer
to get afloat with an echo sounder to accurately
pinpoint their location. Anchoring up in the shallows
will allow baits to be fished at varying distances
over the drop-off. When fishing drop-offs at any time
of year my favourite spot of all is where there is a
depression in the drop-off giving slightly deeper
water. These channels are often cut where a stream
runs into the lake and the action of the water causes
erosion of the bank. If you imagine how this would
look underwater it is not too difficult to imagine the
pike moving up and down these channels, safe in the
knowledge that they cannot be attacked from the sides.
Certainly, a bait fished in the channel will produce
the bulk of the runs.

Fishing in the shallows can pick you up the odd bonus
fish, but these tend to be the smaller males, who
spend much longer on the spawning grounds than the
females. For the biggest fish stick to the deeper
water and you will not go far wrong. As in all things,
timing is everything. Fishing the drop-off channels
will mean you intercept more fish as they wait to
spawn, but the fish will still only be present for a
few short weeks. Make sure you fish these areas
regularly and don't be put off by a few blanks or
small fish. If you wait the big girls will eventually
come.