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As the weather continues to change and temperatures begin to rise a little, the water temperature starts to move up toward the mid-40s. Soon it will be prime time for big northern pike, which begin their spawn movement in water between 40-45 degrees. The large females will locate to shallow bays and backwaters where the bottoms are grassy. Each of them will usually have two males with her to fertilize the eggs: The males will bump up along the female’s sides, making her deposit her eggs. The eggs will cling to the grass where the males can fertilize them. Because this activity takes place in the smaller back bays and backwaters, this provides a terrific opportunity to shore fish for a trophy northern pike at the front of the bays, where these big boys will be staging before heading back to deeper water.

Another great opportunity with water temps in the mid-40s will occur along area rivers: the Illinois, the Rock, the Mississippi and the Fox. With early season rains and snow melt, the early part of the year has the rivers really swollen and moving. This fast-moving water creates some great opportunities for shore locations for some great northern pike and walleye this Spring. The cold water has both species moving in the rivers looking for spawning areas, but the instinct to survive is stronger than the instinct to spawn, so they will be looking for current breaks to rest and restore themselves.

Fishermen will want to look for anything that will create a quiet eddy: a downed tree lying in the river, rock piles, points of land that jut out into the current or bridge pylons. In that quiet little pocket several fish could be stacked and resting, snatching a bit of food as it washes by without exerting any effort. That should tell how to present bait: Cast it upstream and let the current bring it to the target. The reports of some really nice walleye being caught from shore up on the Rock River and on the lower Fox River this past weekend just reinforce the game plan.

Until next time, keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.