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A very important calendar period to catch pike is spring (it is possibly the best time to fish for pike). It is characterized by blossoming vegetation and the life under water is just developing explosively. For the pike, changes of location are now imminent. This means that there are not such fixed hotspots for pike in spring as in summer.

For spawning, pike gather in a few places in the lake and after they have recovered from spawning, the first big pike make their way to their summer territories. Often these are the edges of rivers and standing small and large bodies of water.

NOTE: If you determine the time when the pike spawn right, you can afterwards hope for hungry pike. The water temperature is a good indicator for this.

The change of location of the northern pike happens just in time, before a few weeks later masses of whitefish will move to the banks to spawn. But it is not yet that far, pike are still to be found distributed all over the place. But they all have one thing in common: now that they are feeding more and more actively, they are looking for the proximity of their prey fish. These in turn have a special preference in the still cool spring: warm water.

1. Heat, an indicator for a hotspot

(Water temperature: 10-17 °C / 50 – 62 °F)

At the beginning of spring, the water can finally warm up sustainably. With water temperatures still averaging 5 – 7 °C (41 – 44 °F), most fish are drawn to the warmest possible region around themShallow bays become a good hotspot. They warm up faster than areas with deeper water. If the bays are only connected to the deeper water by a narrow passage, this represents a perfect spot.

hotspots-pike-fishing-spring-turbid-water
Why is turbid water a hotspot for pike fishing in spring?

1.1. The water color reveals good hotspots for pike fishing in the spring

Water color also plays an important role. Turbid or brown water warms up faster than clear water. This is where many fish are attracted to. We recognize cloudy or colored water without a doubt quite easily: Visually.

1.2. What is the best bait color for turbid water?

Bright colors play a big role in turbid water. At least, that’s what many anglers think. But the murky often brown water has a nasty property. It changes the color effect of the baits. In the following video we see an excerpt of our lure course “How to find the best lure color for pike, perch and zander”.

Especially the silhouette of the bait is important in turbid water. Therefore, it is important for us to know which forage fish is on the menu of our predators. Smelt have a different shape than perch and small bream are clearly different from gudgeon.

However, some bait colors are quite important for successful fishing in the spring. Basically, the more advanced the spring is, the more the bait should stand out, as there is more and more prey available.

(Here you can see an underwater shot of a pike lure color test in brownish water: We tested different colors for our lure course over the course of a year at

  • different times,
  • different depths,
  • and in different waters.

This really gives you a good insight into how lures work and you don’t have to be (mis)guided by marketing and colorful ads when choosing lures. It’s just a different approach.

In this video, the diving depth of our drone is about 1.80 m (5.9 ft). The recordings were made in the afternoon in sunshine in spring (April 2019) in a Hamburg canal. So the incidence of the sun’s rays was oblique.

The goal in choosing the color of the bait must be that our wobbler, rubber fish, spinner or flasher stands out in the mass of prey fish. So, you improve your chances of catching a pike fast by several levels. This will not only save you several days of tailoring, but also.

Note: Especially in turbid water, the color of the lure is less important than the contrast with the background. White and black lures offer an above-average contrast in bright weather. Colorful lures in comparison often look pale underwater in brownish water.

1.3. Technical help for finding hotspots

If you want to know the exact temperature, you can use a few technical tools to find the warm areas in a body of water.

how-to-find-hotspots-for-pike-fishing-spring
Fish finder temperature line and ground types: The temperature gradient of the ground is a good indicator for the soil type. In other words, whether its surface is hard or soft. Translations: Temperaturlinie – temperature line; aktuelle Temperatur – actual temperature; härterer Boden – hard underground; weicherer Boden – soft underground;

Here you can see a typical 2D fish finder image. On the one hand, we can see the temperature line at the top. It shows us the change of the water temperature over the previous time. If you set a slow scrolling speed here, you can compare the temperature changes of the last minutes. In our example, the current water temperature is displayed at the bottom left.

pike-fishing-in-spring-hotspots-water-bottom
How to detect hard and soft water ground with the Deeper smart sonar? Translations: Härterer Untergrund – hard underground; Weicherer Untergrund – soft underground;

Another way to find places for pike fishing offer us mobile sonars for fishing. The Deeper fish finder shows the bottom details and you can conclude the warmest water in an area. For this you only need to look at the bottom line.

The fish finder display gives us an indication of how hard or soft the bottom is. A soft bottom is always a good indication that the water in that area is turbid. A muddy soft bottom, for example, will cause the water to turn brown and heat up faster. We can recognize the soft bottom by a single and as narrow as possible bottom line.

spring-pike-fishing-spawning-season
Shallow water regions close to the shore are great pike hotspots in spring.

2. The spawning of the prey begins

(Water temperature: 10 – 17 °C / 50 – 62 °F)

When most other fish begin to reproduce, the pike spawning process is long over. For them, a time of plenty now begins and they gradually really get into feeding.

Nature has arranged this quite cleverly for the pike. Roach, bream and rudd usually spawn in Central Europe in April and May. The spawning whitefish are inattentive and very easy prey for the predators. Pike don´t tend to miss this chance!

So how do you find the big pikes in spring?

Extensive and shallow areas along the shore are excellent spawning grounds for many whitefish. If you are out with your waders, you can also encounter large pike in these areas. Often the pike will hunt just a few feet away from you in 0.5 – 1 m (1.6 – 3.2 ft) shallow water.

The following image shows different depth ranges of a map. The areas marked in green are barely 0.5 m (1.6 ft) deep. Here you can wade through the water and fish for big pike.

fishing-for-pike-in-spring-hotspots-shallow-water

3. Slow change of hunting strategy

(Water temperature: 15 – 18 °C / 59 – 64,5 °F)

spring-pike-fishing-hidding-place
Pike in one of its preferred hiding places during spring: Dense underwater vegetation.

At the end of spring, the underwater plants now form the first real retreat areas for the pike. These use the newly created hiding places and stand directly in the still holey, but increasingly dense vegetation. Especially the big ones still find enough cover to hunt their prey. Most pike have now occupied their territories and are more and more changing their tactics. Switching from actively searching for prey to the “sit and wait” hunting strategy in their respective territories.

3.1. Pike reach their summer hunting grounds

where-to-find-pike-in-spring
Pike territories are very diverse

Cannibalism may also be evident among the larger pike. Fixed territories prevent too many pike from meeting. This protects them from becoming prey themselves. In spring, countless pike are present on the shores of water bodies. Among the thousands of hatched pike, cannibalism is on the agenda.

The larger pike, on the other hand, must first meet. This will be unavoidable in late spring, as it is the larger pike that have larger territories or a larger radius of action. This inevitably brings them into the neighbor’s garden. And when pike meet pike or bait that looks like pike – it’s not so bad for us anglers.

It is interesting that in scientific studies it was found that some pike move only a few meters a day and therefore do not really change their location. Thus, numerous pike could become observers that lasted several days in an area of just under 20 x 20 meters (65 x 65 ft).

In this area they waited for prey but for the most part they just floated from one corner to another without much movement. It is thought that they save energy this way and therefore do not need to feed that frequently.

For comparison:

With water temperatures of about 4 – 6 °C (39 – 42 °F) still prevailing at the beginning of spring, pike feed only every 15 – 30 days. This increases towards the end of spring. At water temperatures of 17 – 19 °C (62 – 66 °F), ideal for pike, they hunt every 1-2 days … and 1-2 small perches are fully sufficient. Pike consume over 90 % of their prey and excrete very little. They are very efficient feeders.

What this means for us anglers:

– Pike are at a spot, even if they don’t necessarily bite right away.

– Fishing the same spot the next day can bring success.

– Many anglers make this mistake too often: if nothing bites, they often never return to that spot.


Note: Spring is a time of change for pikes. While they first come out of the spawning season weakened and without appetite, this changes in the course of the following weeks. They now find food on the shores as concentrated and abundant as it will never be again throughout the year. They can choose their personal favorite among the countless prey fish.

These changes in hunger, available prey and pike hunting strategy will have an impact on our fishing. To be successful, we will have to adapt our baits to the situations much more often in spring, think more about hotspots and also change the bait presentation from very slow to fast and varied.

If we sum it up, at this point we can say that spring can be a very interesting time for pike fishing. It becomes even more exciting in the summer.

Tip

This article is an excerpt from “Finding Fish The Smart Way – The Pike“.

This book features over 260 pages all about spotting the pike? No “best bait enumeration” and also no “warmed up fishing tactics”. The book starts much earlier – Always according to the motto: “What good is the best fishing technique, if you fish in the wrong place?”. You are going to learn:

  • Why he hunts where and when.
  • What influence wind and weather have on biting times.
  • When he prefers which prey or bait.
  • Which hotspots are most promising at which time of year.
  • Tips and tricks for pike fishing in a river.
  • And much more…

3.2. A book only about hotspots - Skeptical?

No problem. Download over 40 pages for free and get rid of your doubts!

This brings us to the end of our article about (early) spring pike fishing. If you have any questions, additions or comments, please let us know – we are looking forward to your feedback. Here you can find more tips on pike fishing. Or have a look at the fish finder reviews in our extensive fish finder test (including the newest models of all important fish finder manufacturers like Garmin, Lowrance, Humminbird or Raymarine). Have fun on your next fishing trip and “Petri Heil”! – Martin and Jens.

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