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  • Writer's pictureNew Wave Fishing Academy


With the lack of ice over the winter, unseasonably warm temperatures through March & April, & water levels at least 1 ft lower than last season we weren't really sure what to expect but knew this year would not be normal spring pike fishing. 2024 Northern Pike fishing opener on Georgian Bay turned out to be even more challenging than anticipated but by the end of the weekend we began to put the puzzle pieces together and find some big fish! Find out how we broke down the conditions to start finding success below. If you don't want to read the story leading up to the important decision that was made skip ahead to the section titled "The Decision".

Spring Pike Fishing - 2024 Opening Weekend

Spring is our favorite time of year to fish! We're not sure if it is because of the lack of fishing all winter, excitement to be back on the water, the opportunities for numbers of big fish, fishing styles used, or a combination of all of these things. This is also why our level of frustration was so high after a complete fail during the first spring pike fishing trip of 2024 season. While we did see a few mid 30" fish in the morning up shallow after 10 am only hammer handle sized pike could be found and even they were few and far between. Moving out to deeper water areas in the bays we noticed the weed growth was way behind for the water temperature and only small fish were using these prime feeding areas. After moving to even more main lake locations (shallows with drop offs to 20+ ft) we started to see some northern pike over 30" but they had no interest in what we were throwing. Unfortunately, as us anglers often do, we had spent too much time "proving" the pike were not in typical patterns instead of trusting our gut/observations and adjusting right away so no quality fish were boated before we ran out of time. Let's chalk this up to being the first day back after a long fishless winter.

After chatting with others and realizing they also had the same troubles we felt a little better about our efforts but needed to understand what was going on as it seemed like the shallow spring pike fishing bite was over and fish had moved on to summer patterns already. Our plan for Sunday was to explore some new areas and start fishing at main lake spots while working back into the shallows to intercept the fish wherever they are.

We had confidence in our plan but there was one problem: no weed growth in main lake spots yet to hold the fish. We covered a ton of water with no results, or baitfish seen, and to find the weeds we had to move back into the bay systems. The first big weedbed found, in 10 ft of water, we got a follow from a GIANT (mid to high 40" fish - although unsure if pike or musky). Trying to replicate the pattern produced nothing and we stumbled across two decent northern pike in the shallows which seemed random given everything we had experienced the past day. By this point it was mid day and we only had a few hours left of pike fishing. Diamonds are made under pressure and sometimes the struggle is needed to push you to elevate your game; and we stepped up to the challenge.


During the last 3 hours of the day we saw at least a dozen fish with at least half of them being high 30 - low 40" class. We also boated 5 small pike including a 33". One decision and a huge change in results from the previous day and a half. Had we made this call earlier we could have had much greater success and ended up boating a few big pike but we were a little late and ran out of time. Lesson learned.

But what was the decision we made and why did we make it?

To explain this we need to start with some important background information on the biology of northern pike as well as understanding the science of water temperature change:

  • The "home base" of pike is where the food is

  • The majority of bait is NOT in the shallows

  • While pike will feed in the shallows while there, they come here because of the warm water to speed up digestion not to feed (this is why they can be uninterested in everything you throw at them)

  • The warmer the water the faster pike can digest food

  • The larger distance fish need to move to reach warm water the more energy is required

  • Not all areas warm up / cool down at the same rate

The areas we had been fishing for pike in pre-decision set up similar to the image below. The temperature difference between mid depth zones (10-20 ft) and shallows (<10 ft) were not significant, any bait seen was in mid depth or main lake zones, and this gives fish a ton of potential locations to utilize! This means they will be spread out and difficult to locate!

spring northern pike fishing tips

As anglers we want to maximize our chances of encountering pike by looking for opportunities where fish will concentrate. We were challenged with northern pike being able to utilize almost anywhere in the bay systems being fished since temperatures were nearly uniform. What we wanted was northern pike to be concentrated in small areas so we could fish for lots of fish instead of the odd one. While we can't change what the fish are doing we can adjust where we target them. So this begs the question; where could we go where fish will be forced into small areas and be concentrated? Where would the fish find it worthwhile to make the trip into the shallows to improve digestion AND there is only one option for them to go?

That is when it hit us; what if there wasn't this giant area that they could be using between the cool main lake and the slightly warmer shallows? The incentive would be greater to make the trip into the shallows and there will be fewer potential spots to spread the fish out.

Looking at our maps we identified a handful of shallow weedy bays with NO mid-depth waters that drop immediately into the main lake. While these bays are much smaller than what we had been fishing and will hold less fish in general the fish that are around should be more co operative. Moving into the first spot we see a difference of 48 F at mouth on main lake side to 52 on the shallow bay side as well as almost 60 F in the protected shallow reaches. Surely this short distance to move into the warm shallows will be more worthwhile and concentrate the fish.

spring pike fishing tips in tough conditions, where to fish

We are immediately met with a hit from a near 30" pike that makes its way into the boat and see a 40" class fish that spooks and we chase around for a while. Moving on to another larger bay with similar setup we begin to see more and more fish. While the weed growth is quite excessive and fishing becomes difficult we end up spooking 4 or 5 40" class fish as we explore. While we were not able to convince any of these giants to bite a number of smaller pike hit the boat and the first decent fish of the past 2 days is netted; a 33" er.

Had we been able to stick around for the evening bite or made the decision to target these waters earlier in the day we may have been able to land a quality northern pike; but that's fishing. The experience gained as part of the struggle and overcoming the challenges faced to find quality fish are a rewarding consolation prize that will serve us for years to come.

If you enjoyed our breakdown of the conditions for 2024 spring pike fishing opener on Georgian Bay and want to learn our entire system for targeting northern pike (or other species) throughout the entire year be sure to check out our downloadable courses at:

These courses are loaded with detail and explanation with logical structure similar to this blog post to help anglers understand, predict, and take advantage of fish behaviour regardless of the conditions, when or where they get to fish, and lets them learn at their own convenience.

What Caused These Conditions?

Making the right call on the water is important for your fishing success but being able to anticipate the conditions and plan accordingly before even hooking the trailer up is the best way to ensure your success on the water. Life is busy and sometimes it is all you can do just to get out fishing so reading the forecasts and planning will take a back seat. This is the case for this trip as we did not pay attention to the weather ahead of time. Looking back on it now this information could have helped us arrive at our decision much sooner. Check out the review below on what weather factors caused these conditions.

  1. Air Temperatures

Leading up to Saturday was 3 straight warm days with warm nights. With the warm nights preventing the shallows from cooling off they would have been much warmer than main lake everywhere. Friday night was the first cold night in a while; which would have pushed fish out of the shallows into more stable water and levelled the temperatures in between. While Saturday was hot and the shallows did warm up this sudden drop in temperature overnight could have been a reason for fish moving deeper and not coming back in. Sunday was not cold compared to normal seasonal temperatures but compared to heat of Saturday it is was cold and did get cold overnight. This would have prolonged the reduced activity levels of the northern pike and kept them from feeding aggressively or moving shallow to digest.

2. Wind Direction

After looking back at the wind speed and direction leading up to spring pike fishing opener it was clear the wind was blowing but mostly from the south and not from the west. On Georgian Bay the prevailing west winds contribute to mixing and will blow the cool waters from the wide open portions of Georgian Bay into the bay systems. The movement of water into these areas will improve mixing and keep the temperature cool. Without the west wind the mid depth zones heat up much faster which gives fish less incentive to move shallow as the mid depth zones have sufficient temperatures to improve digestion with much less effort than swimming all the way to the back of the bays.

What To Do Now?

Now that we have an understanding of what was going on over the past weekend it's time to prepare for the next outing. Based on what we know now, looking at the forecast, and predicting what will happen before we hit the water next we can develop a successful game plan for next weekend.

The obvious thing to do is continue running the same pattern that we developed and saw northern pike to end off the weekend.

But what if the conditions change? Can they even change significantly? Have the fish actually moved on to summer patterns?

Only time will tell for sure but after breaking down the conditions we no longer believe that the shallow bite is over and the northern pike have moved on to summer patterns. Some strange weather events combined to spread the pike out depending on where anglers targeted but these are not going to last. Once a west wind picks up the temperatures in the mid depth zones will go down as they mix with cold water of the big lake and the shallow bite will improve as there will be greater temperature difference between the two so northern pike will concentrate. Looking at the upcoming forecast for next week there is going to be more wind blowing from the west from the 12th through the 16th although it will alternate from north and south. Combined with the warm days & cold nights expected over the next 14 days the shallow bite in the large bay systems will continue to struggle as the northern pike stay spread out. This will make the Top 50 Pike Series Event out of Parry Sound on May 11th interesting to say the least.


To experience a day of fishing on the water with us be sure to check out our YouTube channel at the link below.

To learn our entire northern pike fishing strategy click the link below:

To learn our entire muskie fishing strategy click the link below:

Check out the results of our fishing students and teachers to see what you can accomplish with New Wave Fishing Academy: 

Have you ever wondered why lures don't come with instructions and wanted to know how to fish them? Look no further than our "How To Fish" series where you will learn what each bait is, how to use it, when and where it excels over other baits, our preferred setup to use it on, and the common mistakes anglers make when using it. 


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