During optical performance monitoring in low SNR conditions, the detection of pilot data may be more difficult because the detector may mistake noise for the pilot data signal. Systems and methods are disclosed herein that try to address this problem. In one embodiment, a pilot tone detector processes the received signal to determine a maximum correlation peak, and then performs tracking of the correlation peak over time. Unlike the pilot data signal, noise is typically more transient in nature. Therefore, if a correlation peak does not actually correspond to the pilot data signal, but instead corresponds to noise, then the correlation peak typically disappears over time when tracked. A search for a new correlation peak may then be performed. When a correlation peak is determined that actually corresponds to the pilot data signal, then the correlation peak typically remains when tracked.