Northern Pike Fishing Tips and Techniques
Everybody knows that if you want to catch big Northern Pike, you need to go pike fishing in Canada. Northern Pike can provide one thrill of a fight, many times ripping apart lures, leaders, line and occasionally even rods and reels get blown apart. The ability to sight-fish these huge Northern Pike in shallow water and being able to see the strike on your lure is truly the most exciting part. Bluffy Lake has no shortage of trophy Northern Pike. Here, every time you step into the boat, you have a realistic chance of catching a true trophy fish.
When is the best time to fish?
This far north you get spring, summer and fall fishing all in a five month period. The rest of the time the lake is frozen over. With such a short season, the fish are constantly on the move and hotspots can change every week.
Pre-spawn is usually around the last week in May or the first week in June. This takes place as soon as the ice is off. Many pike can be caught in the shallow water while they are moving towards the spawning areas. Males are a lot more active than females but the big trophy females can still be caught with little enticement.
This is within 14 days after ice-out…usually first or second week in June. The spawn is triggered by increased water temperatures and longer daylight. This only takes a day or two and they are not likely to hit lures. Fortunately, not all pike in the lake spawn at the same time, you can have the pike in one bay spawning and in the next bay they are still biting.
Around the second week in June, males are more active and can be caught on most anything. The big females are recuperating from the spawn but can still be caught with slow moving baits or flies.
The third week in June, the pike are really active and are found in shallow water. There are no weeds yet so they hide amongst the boulders and in the bays with a little color on the bottom. Water temperatures also play a big part in locating pike at this time.
Fourth week in June and first week in July, Pike are moving to the deeper parts of bays where the weeds are just starting to grow. The fish are feeding really well. Pike can be found in all places with any amount of weed growth.
This is usually second week in July to mid-August. The weather is fairly stable and the fish feed regularly. The pike are hanging around the cabbage beds and the windblown shorelines. Most of the really big pike that come out of a lake are caught at this time. Good lures to use are weedless spoons.
This is usually end of August when the weeds start to die and the fish move out of them. The number of small pike will slow down but the big ones are still on the feed. This is when the big ones are really heavy and fight hard.
Early to mid September – This time is least productive. Fishing is slow since the water is now all the same temperature and the pike are scattered and difficult to find.
The best thing you can do is to get yourself some good quality equipment. You will need a medium to heavy action casting or bait-casting rod at least 6 feet in length. A good stiff rod with a sensitive tip is needed. A light rod takes too long to fight the fish and puts more stress than necessary on the big pike. Over-playing the fish makes it harder to revive them once you are done taking photos. Good strong leaders no shorter than 9″ is needed with good snaps and swivels. For reels, make sure you have a good working drag system. If the drag doesn’t work well, you will lose the big fish, not to mention a lot of tackle.
LURES AND BAIT
Pike will hit just about any lure. Some of the biggest pike are caught with small jigs while Walleye fishing. It makes sense because the big pike will patrol the outer parameter of the Walleye schools.
- Live bait such as worms, minnows and leeches, but artificial lures create more of a disturbance in the water making them more noticeable to pike.
- Crank baits- In deep waters use a deep diver and in shallow waters use a jointed floater. Crank baits have numerous treble hooks making it easy to set the hook when a pike strikes. These can be trolled with as well and cause a lot of water disturbance which will get the pikes attention. Rapalas and Thundersticks work great.
- Spoon- big spoons work great for pike too. They usually have a silver shiny side that reflects sunlight and gets the pikes attention. Spoons work well in deep waters and off shorelines. The most popular lures are DareDevils in red/silver or red/white and the yellow DareDevils with five of diamonds.
- Spinners- these work well but are usually smaller in size and will only attract smaller pike.
- Plastics + Jigs- These can work well also, but their smaller size and single hook will usually limit you to smaller sized pike.
- Poppers and Floating Mice- These lures work great in shallow water. If you find a nice weed bed try tossing a few casts over top using one of these.
Remember, same rule applies, larger lures will attract larger fish.
CASTING A DAREDEVIL
One very effective way to maximize the attraction of a DareDevils or other spoons is to slap them. What you do is cast towards your target zone but cast up high so your lure falls into the area you want to fish. When the lure is about 2 or 3 feet above the water, jerk your line towards you. This makes the lure slap on the surface. If you are doing it right, you can hear the DareDevil slap. The sound of a spoon slapping on the surface seems to attract pike and/or trigger a feeding response.
USING OLD RAPALAS WITH YOUR DAREDEVIL
Do you have a Rapala that’s all chewed up or the little plastic fin broke off? You don’t have to turn it into a key-chain or throw it in the garbage. It’s still very useful.
Nothing gets a big monster pike irritated more than watching another fish trying to eat. Northern Pike are extremely competitive and like to assert their dominance in the food chain. When a pike sees a fish chasing another fish, it’s time for lunch. With this in mind, take the hooks off your broken Rapala. Then attached a black steel leader. Then attach another leader to the back of the Rapala with a spring-slip-ring. Then attach your DareDevil or whatever you want to use. This rig is another way of triggering that animal feeding instinct. It’s an old Muskie fishing trick.
HOW TO HOLD A PIKE OR WALLEYE
If you hold a northern pike or walleye up by its eye sockets like they use to do in the old days, you squeeze their optic nerves into their brain and they die a slow death.
GAS AND BUG SPRAY
If you have touched a gas tank, gas line or get gasoline on your hands, scrub (wash) your hands with sugar. After you have put bug spray on, wash your hands with salt. Do this before you touch your lures to minimize transfer of undesirable scents. This will maximize fish strikes.
OTHER NORTHERN PIKE TIPS
- Bigger = Better with pike. Pike will attack lures that are very big in size. If you are targeting large pike that are greater than 10 lbs use large lures. 8 inch and bigger crank baits are the lure of choice. The color doesn’t usually matter; however, fire tiger seems to be a color that works well all year round.
- Troll fast. Pike are fast fish and will attack your lure even if it is moving quickly. Trolling at a quicker pace allows you to cover more water and will attract pike. Using shiny lures such as spinners works great if it’s a sunny day out.
- Use braided line. Regular line will snap. If you are not using braided line then be sure to use a steel leader.
- Always net your catch. Pike have sharp teeth so you really don’t want to get too close. Net your fish and use long pliers to remove the hooks each and every time.
- Don’t over think it. Unlike many other species, pike are very easy to catch. They are extremely aggressive and are not picky eaters. Simply get your lure in front of them and if they see it they will attack it.