“The pike’s activity level during winter definitely slows down,” Sloth said. “That’s because the water is getting colder and with the cold water temperature, pike activity decreases.”
We asked Sloth about his winter strategy. Here’s what he shared.
Q: Do winter pike have active periods?
A: “It can vary from lake to lake or river to river, but early morning always seems to produce good. When I’m trolling, I like to get out nice and early and be ready on the water when the sun comes up.”
Q: Where do you target pike in the colder months?
A: “During winter, I like to target the deep lakes, where the baitfish ball up and often (hold) in the deeper areas. I will get close to drop offs and points, then troll along them. Structure is always good for any fish I would say.”
“I adapt my lure to the depths of the water. During winter I’m not fishing close to the surface, but more like midwater or closer to the bottom.”
Q: Why is trolling a productive cold-season technique?
A: “As pike activity slows down during winter, you also want to decrease your trolling speed. It's also important to pick lures that have an action at slow speed.”
Q: How do you select your trolling areas?
A: “It’s always good to pick areas with baitfish, because pike will be nearby. Spots that are close to edges and plateau drop-offs are good.”
Q: What is your average trolling speed?
A: “During summertime, I like to troll approximately 3-3.5 km per hour, but during wintertime, I like to slow it down to approximately 2-2.5 km/h.”
Q: What baits are most productive for pike trolling?
“Curly tail lures are very good for winter pike trolling because they have good action, even at very slow speeds. Some paddle tails also have good action at very slow speed.
“I also pick big baits when trolling during winter. They make the most commotion in the water, and that attracts some attention.”
Rigging note: A double hook stinger harnesses made with Mustad 3X Trebles ensures solid hookups. Also, a Mustad Stay-Lock Snap with Ball Bearing Swivel will prevent line twist while trolling.
Q: How many baits will you troll?
A: “This also depends on the size of the water body. On big lakes, some like to troll up to eight rods at a time. I don't have more than six, when fishing alone in the boat. From the kayak, I use two to four rods.”
Q: Do winter pike fight as hard as they do during warmer months?
A: “Definitely not; they are a lot slower. Summer pike can go absolutely mental, and jump around. They can fight so hard that they actually end up dying, if the water is getting too warm. Yes, bigger pike can take some good runs in the wintertime, but they won't jump like crazy, and they are easier to handle.”