Northern Pike Fishing Tips

Northern Pike are the easiest fish to catch. They hit just about any lure. You always have to use steel leaders because the pike's teeth are razor sharp and will cut through your line in a second. Most people that target Northern Pike want to catch a big one. Maximizing your chances at catching a trophy pike means understanding their behavior and feeding patterns and then throwing the right bait based on the water conditions and structure.

Big trophy Northern Pike are like Musky is some ways and very different in other ways. Northern Pike are ambush predators while Musky are hunters. Both Musky and Northern Pike will feed in shallow water or in deep water. Many people think pike only hang around in shallow water but nothing is farther from the truth. Northern Pike in lakes with Whitefish and Lake Trout will go deep to feed. On many lakes Northern Pike will go deep and stay deep in the fall. Fishing shallow and fishing deep for pike means very different techniques.

Fishing Shallow:

Many people go into a back weedy bay and start casting baits and don't catch anything. You can look at the area and think it's perfect for pike but there is nothing there. A trick to this is to look at the mud on the bottom. If you see pitch black mud on the bottom it usually means there is too much decomposing organic matter so hydrogen sulfide or nitrogen levels will be too high for pike. If you see bubbles from the mud that could be methane. Don't waste your time in spots like that. You want to find an area that is rocky, sandy or the bottom mud has a lighter brown color.

Even though the bay is full of weeds usually big trophy Northern Pike will hand around the points leading into shallow weedy bays. They may be in the deeper water out in front of the bay and then they head to the outside of the points and then chase feeder-fish into the bay cutting off their escape route. See diagram below.

In this case try casting DareDevles, deep diving rattle baits or Musky plugs at the points. Big pike will also hit big spinner baits and Mepps Musky Killers. If you don't get anything after a few casts try dropping your DareDevle straight down and jigging the lure. If that does not work put on a weedless spoon like a Weedless DareDevle or Johnson Silver Minnow and cast a couple of feet into the weeds and then bring your lure out into deeper water where your boat is.

There are two tricks you can use to increase strikes. First, when casting a spoon cast it up high and just before it hits the water give the line a violent jerk so your lure slaps the water. Another trick is to constantly change the speed in-which you are reeling in and give the lure jerks once in a while to make your lure look like an injured fish.

Fishing Deep

Many people think of Northern Pike as a shallow water fish but this is not always the case. In Northern Ontario where lakes are deep and have a good population of Whitefish and Lake Trout the really gigantic pike will go deep to feed. What they do is stage on ridges anywhere from 15 to 30 feet deep right beside a deep drop-off. They go down to these depths for a time to adjust to the pressure before taking off down to 50 or 60 feet deep to feed on Lake Trout. See diagram below.

If you are fishing in an area facing the open lake and you know it gets deep. Turn your depth-finder on and see if you can find these ridges. If you do sink a big jig down and see what happens. You can also put a big minnow on a hook and sink it down. The Northern Pike will hang on these ridges and then take off down deep to get a whitefish or Lake Trout. Once they get a big meal they will slowly make their way into the shallows, sometimes in one foot of water, and sun themselves to aid in digestion. Their favorite place for this is in grasses or wild rice. They look like alligators in the grass thus the nickname Gators. If you see a Gator then put on a really small floating lure and cast right near him. Do not reel in; just jerk the bait to annoy him. He is probably not hungry but will attack anything that bothers his relaxing sun bathing.

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