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When fishing for pike it is useful to know that it is fond of shady places and in summer they frequent the coolest areas in a river; springs, shadows and deep spots)
They generally spawn in March or April and earlier in some Southern streams. In winter they get under rocks, or stumps, or into convenient deep holes, and they can be taken then with small live fish for bait. Often Pike can be found near the mouth of some small stream emptying into the river; the fall of the year is the best time for catching them.
In the hot summer months they will seldom bite at all, except, perhaps, in a very windy day. In the fall, too, they are in better condition. Pike fishing in the spring is sometimes very successful; however, though the fish are not so good when breeding. In the more northern waters they are sometimes taken as early as August in good condition.
The tackle used for picke is a pretty stiff 10 foot rod, with a reel, and some 50 or 60 yards of flax line which should be protected by the hook with gimp or wire. The Limerick or Kirby salmon hook is used. The size is 0 to 5, according to the size of the fish. IN a running stream, the sinker and float will also be found necessary. The bait should be a small live fish, or frog, or the hind leg of a frog skinned. In using live bait, when the pike takes it, do not draw your line too quick. The bait, if properly impaled, will be very lively, and will be apt to make a violent effort to escape its enemy. Inexperienced anglers may take this movement for a veritable bite; but when the bite comes, there is no mistaking it.
In impaling a small fish for bait, pass the hook under the back fin, just under the roots of its rays. This will not disable the fish, and it will appear lively in the water. When using live frog bait, you pass the hook through the skin of the back or belly, or the back muscle of the hind legs. The live frog is generally used on the top of the water - if not, you should let him rise occasionally to take the air. When the pickerel has seized your bait, give him plenty of time to swallow it, and also plenty of line. Sometimes he will hold it in his mouth and play with it before gorging.
Lures Can also be very effective even in small waters, and can be often quickly worked as Pike espacially in shallows can be very unselective.
Keep in mind that Northern Pike often are sporadic fighters and not afraid to be drawn to shore. A fish slowly worked to shore can be surprisingly green or unsubdued and can put on a tremendous burst of speed and effort when approached. Many anglers have found out the hard way that you cannot man handle a live pike.
Pike, (as well as other Esox) have lots of teeth, a very boney gill cover and have boney mouths. They are notoriously hard to hook and keep hooked and if a green Pike is brought to the hand, when can get serious cut by the thrashing fish or your lures, which might have 6-9 hooks itself.
As one angler has said, once you catch them soon after the excitement ebbs and the fears begins. Only celebrate your victory against one of Americas biggest predators AFTER you have escaped unscathed.