MAKE MONSTER PIKE GO POP
Did you put your topwater bugs away months ago? Get them back out. Pike prefer cooler water, and the fall months have them moving from deep summer sanctuaries back to the shallows to feed. With winter near, they’re all about a big, easy meal, and a loud topwater fly will get destroyed. The trick is knowing when and how to present these patterns.
The Warm-up: Wait for the warmest part of the day, often between 2 and 4 P.M., before you tie on a topwater. All it takes is an uptick in water temperature of a degree or two to get forage moving in the shallows. Focus on logjams and rockpiles with weeds close by, as the hard structure absorbs heat and makes the surrounding area warm even faster.
The Slow Grind: Keep your distance from a likely hotspot and make a 30- or 40-foot cast. The more you can draw out a retrieve, the more likely you are to get smoked. Let your fly sit still for 30 seconds after it splats down. Sometimes just the noise of a topwater hitting the surface will draw a strike. If it doesn’t, work the fly back slowly. Pop it once or twice and let it sit. Try one aggressive pop followed by a subtler gurgle. You can even try slowly but steadily stripping the line back just fast enough to make the fly wake. And always work the fly almost all the way back to the rod tip.