Lots of tactics work when pickerel are the target, but one few people employ is plugging. That’s too bad, because there are times and places when casting or trolling a plug like a stickbait or a suspending jerkbait can work magic. When the fish are holding in four to six feet of water above remnant weedbed or stumps, consider giving this tactic a shot.
- Choose a lure in the three- to five-inch range; lipped plugs and lipless will work, but slow sinkers or naturally buoyant ones seem to usually work best.
- Cast out, work the plug to depth, and give a slow retrieve punctuated with a twitch of the rod tip followed by a two-second pause, followed by a twitch or two, then resuming the retrieve.
- Fan-cast an area and don’t worry too much about focusing on visible structure. When you’re working over old weedbeds and/or stump fields, the pickerel are likely to be scattered all around. Constant prospecting usually leads to more strikes than beating one specific area to death.
Interestingly, plugs seem to do the trick when the usual pickerel offerings, like live minnow and/or bladed lures, aren't getting much action. So the next time the bite's slow, think about reaching for that plug.
***Remember, 90 percent of the anglers out there release the pickerel they catch. Unless you’re one of the other 10 percent, in this scenario it’s more important than ever to switch your plug’s treble hooks out for singles.