I expect most pike anglers start to think about using surface lures when the weather really starts to warm up and the water temperature starts to climb rapidly. I've always felt very much that way myself, but a recent session started me thinking that, even thought it was still mid-March, I stood a very good chance of catching off the top. To catch a pike on a surface lure must be the ultimate thrill as you not only feel the attack, but see it as well.
Fishing a Vibrax spinner through the straw-coloured stems of last year's reed beds, I noticed a few pike chasing and breaking the surface as I lifted the spinner over the more thickly weeded areas. My thoughts turned to surface fishing, and I challenged myself to break with tradition and change to a surface lure, even though it was five or six weeks earlier than I would normally bother to try.
I hadn't got my full complement of surface lures with me, but found an old favourite, an 8cm Storm Rattlin' Chug Bug in the bottom of my box. I quickly clipped it on, and felt very confident as I twitched it slowly through the reed stems. On that very first cast, a nice pike casually whipped it off the surface in a very efficient attack. It just seemed too easy!
I've had great success with the Chug Bugs, both the freshwater version and the larger saltwater version. You can make them spit, dart and walk-the-dog by applying different rod actions to them. Any regular 20-60 gram rod with a medium action is ideal for working them. I was using a Technium DF 240M and a Technium 4000FC reel, loaded with 30lb Powerpro braid, a set up that will last a lifetime if treated with respect.
I've caught hundreds of pike on surface lures, but this one felt quite special. I'd dared to challenge my long-held belief that it was too early to even try the surface lures, and then proved myself wrong! I dare say that surface lure fishing may not work everywhere until later in the spring, but in shallow water which warms up more quickly, I now consider it very viable to include it in my plan of attack.
Next trip out, I'll have all my favourite surface lures with me. I'll pack the bigger 11cm Saltwater Chug Bug, a 13cm Rapala X-Rap Walk and a 12cm Rapala Saltwater Skitter Pop. I'll also put in a 15 cm Rapala X-Rap Sub Walk in case they are taking just below the surface. As the water gets warmer, and the pike's demand for food increases, these bigger lures will score well. Can't wait!