Northern Pike Fishing Tips & Techniques: Catching Pike In The Spring and Summer
A monster lurks in shallow water. It gently works its fins to remain still. It is half-in, half-out of the weed bed, and ready to spring into action when a perch comes close.
It’s the northern Pike, which is the closest to a torpedo-with-teeth that you can find in freshwater.
If there is a more exciting fish I can catch, I would love to find it!
The pike is large, aggressive, and acrobatic. This fish is perfect for anglers who want to catch a big, tough fish. Even though they aren’t picky eaters the spring spawn can throw plenty of anglers for a loop. If you don’t know where to look or what pike feed to feed, summer can be difficult.
We are here to help. Below, you will find our analysis of pike basics and our top pike fishing tips and tricks to catch the big ones.
Basics of Pike
The Esox Lucius is a powerful, long-legged predator that is also known as the Northern pike. The scales of the northern pike are deep olive green near the dorsal fin. They then shade to speckled olive on the belly and finally turn yellow or white at the ends. It blends in well with the background and, as we’ll see, it has great camouflage. This can have an impact on its feeding behavior and where they’re most likely to be found.
These voracious fish can reach a staggering 59 inches in length and weigh in at 63 pounds. Females tend to grow larger than their male counterparts, as is the case with most fish
This chart shows that the average pike weighs between 1 1/2 and 4 pounds. But you never know when a giant will grab your lure and give your all!
Large eyes make the pike a remarkable predator. It is also equipped with sensitive sensory pores and lateral lines that allow for exceptional vision. Pike hunt by looking for vegetation to hide in, or around, and making use of their natural camouflage. They wait for prey to appear or vibrate before moving at full speed.
Fish of all types are prey items, including pike, frogs, amphibians, reptiles like snakes, and just about anything else they can fit into their mouths. The pike has a lot of sharp teeth in its mouth, some of them backward-pointing. It is not uncommon for what goes in to return out.
Pike Spawning: Ready for Prime Time
Winter’s grip on the weather will allow pike to move to the shallows as soon as the ice is gone. These normally aggressive fish aren’t looking for food, but to mate. Pike will spawn when the water reaches 40 degrees.
Vegetation is the key to all things pike. Clark Moen, a hatchery scientist, explained that pike wants to lay their eggs in submerged vegetation in shallow waters in bays of large lakes or at the mouths of tributaries or creeks. They don’t create a nest or provide care for eggs once they have been laid.” Instead, fertilized eggs stick to vegetation as the pike recovers in preparation for their feeding frenzy in the early summer.
This poor parenting strategy works because the females can lay up to 600,000 eggs per day. Although most of these eggs won’t survive, those that do will be able to provide enough food for the rest to sustain their place at the top.
Many pike fishermen are left with temporary anorexia, but it shouldn’t.
It is easy to locate the pike’s current location. These areas can be found near streams, tributaries, or lakes by looking for bullrushes or shallow weed beds. These areas will be great spawning spots, especially if they are near deep water.
Instead of hunger, your pike will rely on irritation and its natural predatory instincts. Slow down, throw your lures slower than in summer, and allow the pike to feel and see your lure.
Below, we’ll discuss techniques and lures more. Keep reading!
What does it mean for you to fish?
Pike will begin to look for food as soon as spring turns to summer and the water temperatures rise. Greg Keefer, Game and Fish writes that most pikes start to feed heavily when water temperatures reach 55-60 degrees. They then go into a spring-feeding frenzy at 65 degrees.
The ambush predators of the Pike are amazing, so it is worth taking some time to understand what this means for anglers.
- Clearwater and lush vegetation are desirable. Pike prefer low turbidity water, which allows sunlight to reach the underwater plants and encourages their growth. These ambush masters require vegetation for cover. This means that you should focus on thick vegetation and weed beds when hunting for pike.
- Pike are very aggressive. For most species, finesse and subtlety are important. But not for the pike. They will strike most lures with an attitude so don’t be afraid to throw it too big or fish too aggressively.
- Pike rely on vision and lateral lines to locate prey. This means that colors, flash, and the vibration is important in lure selection. Live bait is also a good option.
- Pike feed at dawn & dusk. Because of the importance sight has to ambush predation, it is often the best time to work.
Northern Pike Fishing Tips: How to Catch More and Larger Pike
Use the correct line
Braid is a popular choice for pike fishermen, especially when it’s chosen based on its size rather than its tensile strength. Anglers will often throw a braid that is 30 pounds or more.
You’ll get many answers if you ask them why. Some say it’s because of its abrasion resistance. Others will reply with knot strength. This will be repeated over and over.
It’s impossible to believe!
We have dispelled some myths and taken a closer look at the lines before. For more information, please see our article “Myths Debunked”. These answers are a reflection of some of the misconceptions we want to correct.
Braid is not very resistant to abrasion. Abrasion resistance is not measured by breaking strength. Braid can indeed be as strong as mono or fluorocarbon, but it doesn’t have the same abrasion resistance as mono or fluorocarbon.
It’s true. But don’t believe us!
Braid is made up of many small strands of super strong material which are then woven together to make the final line. The line’s breaking strength will drop dramatically if just a few of the strands are broken by a pike’s teeth.
Gary Poyssick explains that braided lines are made by wrapping multiple strands on top of each other. This allows them to separate. They allow water to penetrate a sealed surface if they separate, which can happen when something sharp scratches it. They can become damaged by water if they are opened up. We can assure you that big fish will escape from those stressors.
Head-to-head testing revealed that braid was less abrasion resistant than mono and fluoro, in diameter to diameter. You can increase that resistance by increasing your weight. But the question is: Why?
Why pick the least resistant option and then make it more durable?
Braid is weak in knot strength because braid is made up of polyethylene fibers, they don’t bite very well on their own. This can be overcome by using strong knots such as the Palomar or San Diego Jam. However, physics works against you.
TackleTour tested a variety of premium braids and found that the average knot strength was just 49%. This means that a 20-pound test will show an average knot failure of just 9.8 pounds.
This is one reason anglers use super-heavy braided lines – they’re compensating the weak knot strength!!
Now that we have that out of the way it is clear that braid’s strength and abrasion resistance are not strong suits.
It is less stretchy, but it is still more sensitive than other options. This is important for bite detection. We can see why braided main lines should be thrown during spawn when pike will not bite.
In full summer, however, pike will hammer your lures. Shock strength is more important than bit detection. This is another flaw in a braid.
We recommend Stren Original monofilament instead. It is strong, ties well, has high knot strength, resists abrasions, and offers great shock strength.
TackleTour actually tested the knot strength for even average mono like Trilene XL and found it to be exceptional. Line verified by them to hold 9.7 pounds at knot held 10.3 pounds.
This is a 97 percent knot strength! This is a!
You would need to conduct a minimum 20-pound braid test to get 10 pounds of knot strength. Even then, the braid’s abrasion resistance won’t be as strong as mono (10-pound).
Mono is indeed a single filament with a thick diameter and a round shape that has high abrasion resistance. Mono can withstand abuse without losing strength and still be able to roll over abrasive surfaces. Nylon is a tough material and can withstand small scratches and nicks.
We don’t see why you should throw braid or skip mono for most pike fishing.
A leader is a good choice
Monofilament is our preferred mainline. However, any line that you use can’t withstand a pike’s teeth. It’s possible to be lucky and miss the mouth razors but it’s almost impossible to avoid them.
A leader is always my guide when I fish for pike. It is not recommended that you rely on an abrasion-resistant mainline to withstand sharp teeth fish.
You can run extremely heavy fluorocarbons, such as Berkley’s 100-pound pike leads. They are probably thick enough for a few teeth, but I prefer metal for pike.
There are many options available, including Rio’s tapered lead, which is one strand of notable wire covered in nylon.
You can throw large lures while pike fishing. These fish can be very voracious in warm weather. Ted Hughes’ famous poem explains. Pike are carnivores and will eat almost anything. Their eyes can often be larger than their stomachs.
Throw soft baits up to five inches. Also throw crankbaits, jerk baits, and soft baits as large as 3 1/4 inches to 4 inches. It doesn’t matter if you are fishing with dead or live bait.
Jon Thelen, a legendary pike guide, says that while small presentation can be a concern for spring pike when larger fish are available to eat, bigger baits will work just as well.
Upgrading Your Hooks
Although the hooks on your lures might seem very sharp, they are usually an economical option that keeps costs down for the manufacturer.
Gamakatsu is a premium quality alternative to treble hooks that you can learn from the pros. Premium hooks are subtly different and will lock fish to your line better than bargain alternatives.
Pike Fishing Techniques: How to Catch Spring and Summer Pike
To land a big monster, you can release pike after the spawn has ended.
Pike still gather in the shallows, among the weeds close to influxes of rivers, streams, and tributaries. A large spinner can be used to hit these areas hard and kick off pike season.
I love to work the edges and weed beds with a Wordens Original Rooster Tail in Fire Tiger, or Chrome Whitetail.
The Warbaits 1 ounce spinner is another option that I like. It has two blades and an enticing red TNT color. There is also lots of vibration and flash.
The BigTooth Tackle Straightwire is a final lure you can use with this technique. It’s a refined version of the original design and is ideal for pitching in shallows where you know that you’ll hit the green stuff.
Rattling the Edges
Pike can hear the lure’s rattle from a great distance. The lure that looks more like it is the real thing when they approach the lure will be more appealing to them.
I love to use a rattling lure to track vegetation around the drop-offs and edges of channels. A hungry pike will often come from near to grab a quick meal.
The Rattlin’ Rapala is one of my favorite lures. It looks just like a baitfish and has a rattling chamber that produces amazing noise and vibration. This lure can be used to call up the pike from another county in larger sizes, such as the 3 1/8-inch and 3/4-ounce models.
Flash Spoons for Diving over Weed Beds or Around Floating Grasses
The red and white Dardevle flash spoons are great for treating pike, especially when they come in large sizes, such as 2 ounces which measure 4 1/4 inches. We like to have several options. Pike are deadly when they descend at speed, and can be brutalized by them as they use their keen vision and sensitive line to attack.
These are great to flick over weed beds. I enjoy grabbing them quickly and letting go of the tops. These can also be used to run along the edges and work the points.
These fish can be fished a little like jerk bait. I rip them and let them flutter to an end.
Jigging Weed Edges using Power Tubes
This unusual choice can kill pike. This combination is one of the most deadly for pike. The 4 1/2-inch No products were found. rigged on a 1/4 ounce YUMbrella money head. The pike will rush to catch young fish from cover if they are fished right next to a weed bed.
Flukes in the grass
Cal Johnson, a reader, fishes Rainy Lake looking for pike. This is a great spot to catch a big brute and Cal has some experience.
He loves to throw large Zoom Super Flukes from a 5/0 hook suspended 18 inches below a large barrel spindle. This makes perfect sense. You want to have a strong leader to avoid break-offs. A large hook with a big meal is what hungry pike are after.
The Zoom flukes are also a favorite of mine. Their delicate tail dances with every twitch from your rod tip and sets the pike’s edge.
His favorite colors are: His favorite colors are chartreuse, white Ice, and Bubble Gum.
We agree with Mr. Johnson that pike will be found where there is vegetation. He also looks for floating grasses and weeds in shallow waters.
His personal record measures 48 inches and he believes it weighed in at close to 20 pounds.
Cal, we’d love to see your photo with the fish!
The Best Time to Catch Pike
There are many factors that anglers must consider when targeting pike. The weather conditions, type of lures used, and the time of the day are all important. The time of day is a major factor in where pike are found in the water. Pike will eat almost anything you throw at them. Our decades of experience in pike fishing have helped us to determine the best times for pike. You can catch pike all day, just adjust your fishing techniques to get the big ones. You need to know where the pike is. They are territorial and will take anything you throw at them.
Morning pike is usually more active than normal. It is a great time to catch hungry pike in the morning before the sun rises. They can be found in shallow or open water, looking for their first meal of the day. Jointed Raps and topwater splashers such as a Hula Popper are great lures for morning fishing. Because the waters are calm during the morning, topwater lures can cause quite a stir and pike will often be looking for baitfish in the shallows.
Pike will usually go to deeper water or weed beds after the morning hunt, especially if it’s hot. The afternoon heat makes pike less active and more difficult to catch. You can pike fish in the afternoon with spinners or weedless spoons. Then, troll them through the weed bed. Deep diving rapalas can be used to troll 25 feet of water. Although you might be lucky, afternoon pike fishing is not a good option.
Pike often feel a second wind after the sun goes down and the water has cooled off. The pike will then go on the prowl once more, making them an easy target. You can fish for pike in the evening, just like you would in the morning. It is important to note that pike tends to calm down once the sun sets and the water gets darker.
When is the Best Time to Fish for Pike?
Our experience has shown that the best time to land a monster pike is in April.First thing in the morning. It is best to leave early in the morning to get out before the sun rises. You can be certain to nail some monsters as soon as the sun begins to rise so get your gear ready. Pike don’t eat in the darkness so they will eat anything they see. We call it a day at 11 AM when the sun shines hard.
Many northern anglers dream of pike, and for good reason. Pike are easy to catch and fun to entice.
These tips and techniques will help you catch bigger pike this year. We’d love to hear your feedback!
Leave a comment and tell us what you think about your local river or lake.