Image Above: A Pike With A Mouth Full Off Montana
I went to the lake this morning to test some new jigs heads I have been experimenting with and more importantly to avoid filming wooden minnows. The jig heads had an obvious fault, that is to say the fault was obvious when I put them in water. I had positioned the eye of the hook too far back from the front of the head which completely unbalanced them to the point where they wandered off on their sides, never mind. The jig heads had been made with the idea of fishing the bottom of the lake where I suspected the pike had gone to hide out for the winter. The water isn’t deep about five to a maximum of six foot but it is a snag ridden hole and lipped lures tend to pick a lot of lost fishing tackle when they bounce along the bottom; on my last session here I managed to take home three more lures than I had arrived with. Soft plastics would be an obvious solution to this problem as they often come with single upturned hooks and faces that don’t mind bouncing over things, but having spent too long making hard baits I don’t fancy a change.
With the intention of doing a bit of testing I had left my collection of lures at home and found myself with a very limited selection of alternatives to my wonky jig heads. I soldiered on for too long with the jig heads before I reached into the bag and pulled out a Montana John a lure designed to run just below the surface rather than at depth. On the far side of the lake the sun was at least throwing some warmth into the shallow water around the island and hoping a pike may have come to look for a basking spot I wandered over. There was movement at the surface but it looked to be a carp chasing windblown feathers.
The Montana John was inspired by an American angler who suggested a single hook was all that was needed for a pike lure rather than a collection of trebles. To large extent he was right, my first outing with this lure as a prototype brought home a pike within a few casts and also as a bonus unhooking the toothy critter was an easy affair. But today it was winter and I needed every extra bit of help so I swapped the single hook for a treble and sent the lure across the lake. At first I didn't really notice the difference in the lure but when I moved back to deeper water I realised the extra weight of the hook had turned the lure into a slow sinker.
Rather than sink in a horizontal position the heavier hook at the rear end meant it sank in a vertical position until the hook touched down. As best I could make out when retrieved it ran hugging the bottom and when paused it went back to sinking to a standing position. I quickly realised the advantage of this, the hook despite landing on the bottom seldom came into contact with it unless I paused to let it sink back and with a bent back lip I was no longer picking up stray lines. So I twitched it along the bottom like a walk the dog bait until my first bite came which I automatically assumed was a hook up with a plastic bag so I let the line go slack, the fish took up the slack running into the shade of a tree and was gone before I had chance to strike.
I moved along to one of the deeper swims where I had float fished in the summer and began bouncing and twitching the lure slowly over the bottom. It worked again and quickly I had another bite this time I kept the tension on and the pike came bounding out into the shallows a little pissed off with the sudden change in temperature. With only one treble to remove from the fish I released him without letting him leave the water and he swam to edge of the shallow water to recuperate.
I left the lake with the same amount of lures as I had brought with me but one of them was at least a little different.