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Category Archives: Monster Northern Pike

Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

 big pike

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

Wawang_pike_lures

Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

Wawang pike 46.5

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

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The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

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These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one ’em.

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SPINNING FOR PIKE

??????????????The #5 Mepps’ steady throb pulsed through the 30-pound Spiderwire, down the length of the medium/heavy-action graphite rod and directly into his hand. Just as the lure reached the edge of the cabbage weeds, the blade’s thrum came to an abrupt halt.   He set the hook hard into what felt like a concrete wall!   But then the wall began to move, and he knew he was into a trophy. Five minutes later and four desperate boatside runs, he lands the 20-pound northern pike.

IT’S SIMPLE:  Big pike LOVE spinners!

Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves.

The Baits
Spinner choices abound, but not all are created equal when it comes to enticing jumbo “scissorbills.” The angler should select certain sizes, shapes, and colors, over others.

szczupak-pospolity-80704Lesson No. 1 in choosing spinners for Esox lucius: bigger always is better. Pick magnum-sized offerings as even hammer-handles attack huge lures with abandon, and to catch true monsters, you MUST have that big profile.

Fat, deeply cupped blades throw out big vibrations that ring the dinner bell for monster pike. While sometimes thinner shaped blades (such as willow-leafs) that spin faster turn the trick; usually the slower-turning Colorado-type blades prove to be the ticket to a pike bonanza.

Because big flash stimulates lunkers, polished silver and gold blades work great. Another killer color combo, especially for use in darker, stained water, is orange blades with a black trailer.

In-Line vs. Offset Spinners
Spinners for northerns come in two basic designs, and both work effectively, but each has its strengths and weaknesses.

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In-line spinners (such as Mepps, Worden’s Lures Rooster Tails, Panther Martin, and Blue Fox’s Vibrax), with their terminal trebles, have higher hook-up and catch rates than their safety-pin brethren, but they also hook vegetation and other underwater structure, too.

But lures such as Terminators and Stanley Jigs’ Rick Clunn 4-Blade Willow Spinnerbaits, with their single, upturned hooks surrounded by manmade skirts, slither through the weeds, logs and stumps. In-lines also cast like bullets, while offsets can catch the wind and lose momentum.

Line, Leaders
Any of the new “super-lines” such as like Berkley FireLine, Spiderwire Fusion, or Remington’s Power-Lokt, are superior to monofilament for spinning pike angling. Their low stretch and high-abrasion resistance benefit pike anglers.

Flout the convention and tie on a snap/swivel instead of a leader. Leaders inhibit action and deter wary trophies, while the snap swivels provide two major benefits: quick lure changes and eliminating/reducing line twist. True, you’ll lose lures to the razor-sharp choppers of aggressive mounters, but you’ll get lots more bites without leaders!

Speed & Delivery
Often northerns will attack even jet-powered offerings, but slowing down, pausing, or herky-jerkying that spinner, especially when it reaches the “Pike Zone,” reaps big rewards. Even lazy fish will smash a spinnerbait dangled in front on their out-sized mouth.

Always cast beyond where you think the pike lurk, because while “scissorbills” are legendary for their aggressiveness, they don’t like being bombed. Landing a bait on top of one’s head will likely result in spooking it.

Spin-Crazy Times & Spots
Primetime for driving pike spin crazy depends upon the season, time of day, and prevailing weather conditions. Early spring, right after ice out, brings spawned out northern pike shoreward (where they’re most vulnerable). Spinner rigs elicit savage strikes from hungry pike during spring.

Because northerns sight-feed, mid-day piking makes sense. Following that logic, clear, blue-sky days with lots of sun create perfect pike angling weather.

spinner-bait-diagramThe spinner’s flash and large profile, easily visible to cruising whoppers, prove irresistible.

Look for incoming streams or rivers, and concentrate your efforts just off the edges of weedy drop-offs. Weeds are the keys to spinning big pike crazy, as these predators use vegetation to ambush any aquatic creature smaller than themselves. Position the boat on the deep side of the drop-off, and cast the spinner up onto the flat itself, cranking just fast enough to keep the lure above the weeds, and pause when you get to the weed edge. Allow the bait to drift down and find the waiting lunkers, and hang on!

Using spinners to drive northern pike stir crazy is fun, easy, and productive.

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WHERE TO FIND BIG NORTHERN PIKE

41.5" northern pike

41.5″ northern pike

Top predators aren’t pushovers and being at the top of the food chain they can muscle their way into the prime real estate on any water system. Northern   pike, especially big ones, inhabit the structures on a water system that best meets a variety of criteria, including access to food, shelter, ambushing   opportunities, water temperature, and oxygen levels.

Three prime areas that often meet these criteria for large northern after they’ve spawned in the shallows are points, humps and saddles. Here’s examples of these customary pike structures.

Points

Points are a piece of structure   that juts out into deep water off of shore or an island. They range in shapes   and sizes but ultimately points extend into and are surrounded by deeper   water. The variation they provide compared to the uniform surrounding   shoreline and underwater contours, along with fast access to deep water, make   them attractive to pike.

Northern   move on points to feed, whether on walleye, perch, bass, or any other species   they can get their mouths on. Wind-blown points attract big pike as the   turmoil created by waves often stimulates feeding activity hump1as prey become   disoriented. Pike are active all day, but morning and evening are   particularly good times to try points. When choosing points consider that the   larger the structure the more fish it’s likely to hold.

Humps

A hump is an uprising in the bottom depth with a considerable area. They’re   also often referred to as bars or sunken islands. The same fish-attraction   structural qualities of points also make humps a common place to find   northern.  Mid-lake humps are particularly productive for trophy pike during summer and autumn. On large, deep lakes northern often inhabit cool, deep water where they’ll follow and   feed on schools of whitefish and lake herring.

Humps   often attract deep-water pike as both resting and foraging areas. Shallow humps that peak around 10′ to 15′ often have weed growth, which will   attract all sizes of pike. Deeper, rocky humps that top out around 20′ to 35′ appeal to big, deep-water fish.

saddleSaddles   A saddle is best described as follows: Picture yourself holding a rubber band in two hands so it’s straight. Move your hands together and the band drops —   there’s your saddle. Your thumbs and forefingers represent either humps or islands, which could vary in size and shape, and the bends in the band are   the sloping, connected points that join these two land masses. Sometimes these slopes are relatively uniform, as in the rubber band example, while in   other instances one side may extend farther or drop faster than the other.

In addition to the reasons listed above for points and humps, there are a few   other benefits to saddles. The first is they tend to be fairly sizeable structures giving them the potential to hold multiple big fish. Add to this the fact that saddles contain a variety of different depths plus plenty of   physical features all wrapped up in one interconnected formation, and it’s no wonder they’re a pike paradise and typically known as big fish spots.

Structure Details

NaturalStructureWhen fishing points, humps and saddles, paying attention to the finer details in the layout of these areas will catch you more and bigger pike. You want to   find additional features that will concentrate fish. These zones are often   referred to as “the spot on the spot” and represent prime real estate   for fish. Small fingers, which could be described as miniature points, and   inside bends on any of these three spots have a tendency to attract fish and   funnel their movements. Focusing on deep weed walls is wise as pike will hunt   along these edges. Rock piles also attract fish.

If   you’re fishing the river section of our lake keep current in mind. Expect   northern to hunt on the middle to the downstream portion of structures more   often than the area being hit with flowing water. Walleye and suckers will   hold in the slack water created by these structures and pike won’t be far away from their food.

The next   time you’re pursuing a fishing map, keep points, humps and saddles in mind.   These structures regularly hold quality northern pike throughout the year   after fish have spawned. Fish them thoroughly and don’t be afraid to hit the   same structure multiple times in a day to better your chances at intercepting   a big pike feeding.

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Trolling Spinnerbaits For BIG PIKE

booyah_super_shad_spinnerbaitTrolling spinner baits is a technique every northern pike fisherman should have in their arsenal.

The idea is to quickly fish pike spots, such as weed flats and break lines, searching for actively feeding fish or enticing neutral ones to bite.

Spinner baits are effective trolling baits for several reasons. They can be trolled quickly and the upward facing single hook keeps baits fairly weedless, allowing trolling through thick vegetation with minimal foul-up. Also, their bucktail bodies equates to a high-hooking percentage.

To properly troll spinnerbaits, match the bait’s weight to the trolling speed.

When using a short arm, 1.5-ounce to 2-ounce trolling spinnerbait, run it between 75 feet to 120 feet behind the boat.   Run them this far back because it’s out of the prop wash area. You will want the bait to pop out of the water every five to 10 seconds.

Lure Pops Out Of Water

The popping attracts pike and in order for the sound to be effective, the baits must be out of the prop wash’s disturbance. Trolling long lines also allows you to position baits over structure too shallow to drive over because of the lag time between the boat and the bait.

When speed trolling, run the baits just below the surface, but not popping out.   At this speed popping baits lose their effectiveness. Use 2-ounce to 3-ounce baits, 75 feet behind the boat, trolling them between 4.5 mph and 5.5 mph. If you want to troll faster, use 4-ounce to 6-ounce baits.

When speed trolling, regularly position baits close to the prop wash.  Baits run beautifully on the side of the prop wash, they dance because of the different currents in the water, darting back and forth, giving you a real irregular troll out of them.

A fundamental to trolling is “S”-turns. Baits positioned on the outside of the turn will be pulled faster through the water, while the bait on the inside of the turn will slow down. When a fish hits on a turn, note which side of the turn the bait was on. This is a good indication of how fast you should troll. Slow down if on the inside and speed up if on the outside of the turn.

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Turns Are Key

Turning is also helpful when working weed edges or breaklines. Meandering along a breakline or weed edge allows you to fish different depths as well as structure and cover on a trolling run, increasing your chances of finding fish.

Spinnerbaits can also be effective over rocky structure. After passing a point, it is advisable to cut the motor and drop the bait down a bit, count to five and then engage the throttle again.   This causes the bait to sink then swim back up to the surface. A lot of time it’s on the uplift when a fish will hit. A BIG pike that sees a bait suddenly shoot to the surface might think it’s a baitfish trying to escape and these big predators will react, hitting it to prevent it from getting away.

To troll spinnerbaits for pike make sure you have the right gear. Rod holders reduce arm strain and must be strong enough to sustain a pike’s strike. With holders you can position rods, and subsequently, the path of the baits.

Longer rods between 7 feet and 8 feet, in medium- to heavy-action are good for trolling. Reels with high gear ratios are crucial to quickly play pike, minimizing stress to the fish. Line counter reels are also helpful. Spool reels with 80- to 100-pound-test superbraid, and use a strong wire leader.

Keep Drag Loose

Keep drags loose, especially when using superbraid lines, otherwise you’ll pull baits away from fish or your gear may fail under the force of a hit. When you get a hit, quickly grab the rod out of the holder. Do not to set the hook too hard. Trolling at these high speeds will often be enough to set the hook. After the hook set, cut the engine to fight the fish.

 

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Trolling spinnerbaits allows you to cover vast stretches of water, increasing your odds of finding a feeding fish throughout the day.

Take advantage of trolling to explore new areas you haven’t fished before or to work productive water. Don’t be afraid to troll fast for pike, these freshwater brutes are torpedo’s and notorious for slamming speeding spinnerbaits.

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Timing the Pike Bite Just Right

 There are three times during the open-water period that can be considered prime for big pike.

Each of these windows of opportunity lasts from 10 to 14 days and is key for large-sized northern because during this time, the bigger fish of this species are more concentrated in the shallower water. Here’s where they can be found easily and caught with lures that allow anglers to cover some ground in their search. Once these big pike head to the cool depths where they spread out and suspend, finding and catching them requires tremendous amounts of luck. It’s better to time your fishing for big pike to these three periods to take advantage of factors that give the edge to the angler instead of the pike.

  1. The first period is right after ice-out, which can be a problem in many areas where the season is closed on inland waters.
  2. The second period is as the shallows warm, when the big pike transition from shallow water to deep water.
  3. The third is right before a water body turns over in the fall, when big northern will move up into shallow water after spending summer in the depths.

Right after ice-out, you find huge northern pike in the spawning areas.  These will be shallow weed-choked bays in the lake, and weedy backwater bays up the river.

Little northern aren’t hard to find and catch, but the big pike are a challenge and they put up one heck of a fight.  When you hook into a really nice pike, you can’t make any mistakes.

Don’t let the cold water temperatures right after ice-out deter you from using an approach that allows you to cover some ground. This is the perfect time to be tying on a spinner bait because it’s a lure that works well in shallow vegetation.

The pike move up into whatever vegetation is still standing from the previous year — and any newly emerging weed growth that can often be found in very shallow depths.   Use a 3/4-ounce spinner bait with a large Colorado blade.  This lure casts a long way and can be retrieved slowly, if that’s what’s necessary. You can also burn it a little faster just below the surface in the real shallow water.

Some of the pike will have already spawned, more than likely while ice still covered the surface. Others are still spawning or are preparing to.  Occasionally you may catch a big pike and you can tell is post-spawn, most of the really big pike after the ice has just gone out are still fat with eggs and just on the verge of spawning.    All trophy fish are released back to Wawang Lake.

It’s the transition period when the shallow shoreline regions are warming and the big northern are moving into the deeper, cooler water when most anglers get their first shot at big pike. This period usually falls into a two-week time frame a couple of weeks after the traditional opener. Anglers who can be on the water at this time can capitalize on big fish that are still in reaching distance for a spinner bait or crank bait.

It’s no secret that big pike like the colder water.  You will seldom find the bigger pike in the shallower regions in the lake during the summer months, because the water temperatures there are just too warm for their liking. If you miss this transition period, you’ll likely be into fall before you get another chance at a really big pike, because those bigger fish get hard to come by when they disappear into the depths.

This is a good time to get out Spoon plugs.  Any lake that has a well-defined deep weed line is a perfect candidate for Spoon plugs.

The Spoon plug is a lure that was promoted years ago by famous angler Buck Perry, and is a staple of many diehard big-pike anglers. It allows an angler to troll a weed line or break line precisely at speeds of 1 to 4 mph.

You can cover some ground and find out where those pike are, although during the transition, it’s more important to have your lure in the right place than worrying about the speed.   Those Spoon plugs will get the lure to the right depth and stay on the weed line, no matter what speed I find triggers the bite.

So how does an angler know when the transition starts and ends? Water temperature signals the start.  When the surface temperature hits about 67 degrees, you know it’s going to start pushing those fish out.  This could be early June during some years and early July in others. The weather is the biggest determinant in when this transition period occurs.

You can tell it’s over when the fish quit the bite.  You’ll have a week where the weed line and shallow rock piles are producing big pike with some consistency, then one day you go out there and they’re gone.

The pre-turnover period is when those big pike come out of the deep water as the shallow water cools, just prior to the lake rolling over.

Turnover is a tough time to call, which is why the guys who can get out on a body of water often generally hit this time just right. If you miss it, then there is a period for a couple of weeks after turnover when the fishing is tough all over a lake. It’s just luck and timing.

The big pike will be roaming over the tops of the vegetation, you’ll just want to be ticking the tops of the cabbage, coontail or milfoil with that spinner bait, and if the blade is just a nice slow thump, that’s perfect.

pike

Back troll slowly over the vegetation, with only about 25 to 35 feet of line out — the line from the reel at a 45-degree angle toward the lure and the spinner bait right above the vegetation. By wearing a good pair of polarized glasses, an angler can watch the bait as it dances in and around the stalks and branches. As the boat moves from shallower to deeper water, drop the rod tip or lets out a little more line until the lure starts ticking weeds again.

If seeing an opening in the weeds, drop the rod tip and let the lure settle in.  It’s amazing how often you see the big pike react to the spinner bait and come out of a big pile of milfoil or coontail and attack that lure.

These big pike are the top predators in a lake and they fear nothing at this point.   You’ll see them swim right into the prop wash to hit a spinner bait or spoon as it’s trolled out from the boat.

Back trolling allows more depth control.   It’s easier to get the speed down and work a depth more thoroughly when backing the boat.   If the pike are deeper switch to crank baits or Spoon plugs, then front-troll. But when pulling spinner baits over the tops of the weeds, back troll.

Open-water season in northern Ontario lasts about 28 weeks or so and the time frame for quality big-pike fishing is between five and six weeks, so it’s imperative that you be on the water for these peak times.   Those big pike don’t give you many opportunities, so you need to take advantage of every one.

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PIKE Fishing Tips

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You’ll love Northern Pike fishing! Pike are one of the easiest fish to catch on Wawang Lake. We call them ‘JAWS’ – the Water Wolf. The monster size pike are opportunists and they will eat just about anything you throw at them providing it falls right in front of those nose.

These feisty fish are best for fishermen who like fast action of any type spinner bait, top water, crank baits, etc. If it’s fun, fast action & lots of fish you’re looking for, then these are the fish you’ll want to target.

Where to Find Pike
Pike will be just about anywhere in the lake, so look for points, weeds and narrows. Look for structure that is adjacent to deep water since BIG northern pike feel secure with the safety of deep water nearby.  You will find these hogs hiding in the weeds, swimming in the narrows waiting for the opportunity of migrating fish and ready to ambush their favorite food perch and walleye. They also like to feed in the shallow weedy bays, on lake herring, minnows, leeches, crawfish or anything that moves. If you’re after the big guys, try fishing from point to point across the bays in deeper water. The bigger & older they are, the lazier they get. So they’ll be lying in the deeper pools & just off of the deeper side of weed beds & structure waiting for food to come to them. Also walleye are one of their favorite meals. So where ever you find schools of walleye there will be a few trophy pike close by.

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Techniques
When Pike are feeding aggressively, just about any technique will work well. When using spoons such as Dare Devils, Five of Diamonds, Johnson Weedless Spoons, etc. we like to cast right into the weeds, rip it back just to the edge of the weeds, then let it flutter down. This imitates a wounded bait fish & will drive them crazy. These fish can feel the difference in the vibration of a healthy bait fish & one that is injured. Remember, walleyes will hang out in the weeds as well. When using crank baits & spinner baits let them get down in the weeds. Bumping weeds & structure will trigger them as well. Top water baits such as Zora Spooks, Buzz baits, Stick baits & Jerk baits are a lot of fun. These are just a few techniques. There a many different techniques that will work great for Pike. In the heat of summer, you may want to slow your presentation down as they are not as aggressive as when the water temps are cooler. All in all, these fish will provide you with great memories & lots of action.

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Tackle & Rods
Avid pike fishermen like to feel the fight of a nice Pike on a medium light to medium action 6′ rod with 10 to 12lb line. For novice fishermen, you may want to go with a 6′ to 7′ medium to heavy action rod with 12 to 15lb test line. Use a 20 to 30lb quality steel leader at least 12″ long.  Very important: check & adjust your drag often. A trophy Pike will break your line in an instant while you are trying figure out what just happened. Any lure that you like to use for Bass will work very well for Pike: Spinner baits, Rapalas, Crank baits, Rattle traps, Spoons, Top water baits, etc. Usually bright colors work the best. We have found in darker water that the perch colored baits work very well. Red & white Daredevils, chartreuse, yellow 5 of diamonds, Johnson silver minnow spoons, etc. These are aggressive feeders so don’t be afraid to use just about anything you have in your tackle box. Remember, here in the river their favorite food is walleye so throw something dark green with a yellow or white belly at them. This is sure to get them feeding if all else fails.

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The Weed Warrior

silver-minnow1Whether it’s submerged weeds like cabbage, floating varieties such as lily pads, or emergent plants like reeds, bulrushes, or even flooded terrestrials, pike instinctively gravitate to vegetative cover. When conditions are right, the green zone becomes a gridiron to do battle with toothy weed beasts.

Shrewd pike anglers are adept at using lures and techniques to find and extract fish from these sorts of weed-filled areas. While you can often do well skirting the edges, at times there is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and digging them out of the heavy stuff. It’s of little surprise then, that weedlessness is a quality shared by many top pike lures (and lure modifications) of our time.

The Johnson Silver Minnow, introduced in the 1920s, remains a consistent producer of weed pike. Northland Tackle’s new Live-Forage Weedless Spoon, with realistic baitfish-image patterns, and the Daredevle Feathered Weedless spoon, are other options of similar design.

Many have written about exchanging treble hooks for single hooks on spoons, which reduces fouling while still permitting efficient hook-sets. Vegetation that gets hung on the hook typically can be ripped free during the retrieve with a few quick snaps of the rod tip, or on a subsequent snap-cast. Add a texposed softbait trailer for more weed proofing.

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The weedless qualities of many popular bass lures have led them to serve double-duty for pike. When Blue Fox introduced the Roland Martin series spinnerbait, fitted with a then oversized #7 blade, it was an instant favorite for big pike. Today, an expanded range of pike spinnerbaits is available, including the Lindy M&G and Northland Bionic Bucktail spinnerbaits, among many others.

Jigs built for flipping and swimming are another class of weapons for weed pike. Versions of this once exclusive bass bait are now widely available and in larger sizes crossing over to pike. In this category are the J-mac and Lil’ Hustler jigs. Northland’s Jungle Jig, tipped with a plastic trailer, is another good producer for weed pike. Oversize jigs like the J-mac also work well paired with a reaper, lizard, or swimbait, adding unique action, increasing profile, and slowing sink rate.

Anyone who has fished weedless surface frogs can attest to their effectiveness at attracting and hooking pike. While pike tend to damage the softer varieties after a catch or two, newer designs such as the SPRO Bronzeye Pop Frog and Tru Tungsten Mad Maxx are harder than most and put many pike in the boat before needing to be replaced or repaired.

Upsized hollow-bodied swimbaits are among the most recent weed-resistant tools being applied to extract pike from sloppy places. Many varieties run weedless when rigged texposed on an oversized worm hook. Try a Berkley Hollow Belly Swimbait, Yum Money Minnow, or Z-Man SwimmerZ. The Fat Minnow by Basstrix, rigged on a Mustad Ultra Lock (38105), is a personal favorite.

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When flying north to trophy pike waters, knowledgeable anglers pack a selection of soft-plastic stickbaits and wide-gap hooks. Effective weedless alternatives when slow is key, Bait Rigs’ Reaper Tail or a 9-inch Yum Dinger can be cast easily on unweighted hooks and worked in and along weedy haunts. Where there’s room to swim in vegetation pockets or through stalks, try texposing an oversized curlytail grub, like a Kalin’s 5-inch Lunker Grub on an unweighted wide-gap hook. The seductive slow swim can be irresistible to pike holding in the greenery.

To improve the longevity of soft plastics, consider using screw locks, which can be clipped to the eye of the hook or threaded onto the hook shaft. These modifications can be applied to in-line spinners as well. For especially dense or stubborn vegetation, clip on a hook with a wireguard like the Mustad W3551, making your favorite spoon or spinner weedless.

It’s not a question of whether you’ll find pike in the weeds, but rather when. Productive people have an uncanny ability to turn challenges into opportunity. Snakes in the grass need not carry a negative connotation, providing you’re equipped with the right tools for overcoming salady situations.

48.5" NORTHERN PIKE

48.5″ NORTHERN PIKE

Lure Classics

Snagless In-line

The Snagless Sally made by Hildebrandt is a classic for combing weeds for bass and pike. “The Snagless Sally is one of the most weedless spinner-based lures I’ve ever used,” says In-Fisherman Managing Editor Rob Neumann. “It works well through submerged weeds, but also through floating plants and emergents like lilies, reeds, and rice.” Sally features a single hook with a wire hook-guard and vinyl skirt. “You also can add a plastic or pork trailer, but that’s often not necessary,” he says. Originally available in 1/4- and 3/8-ounce sizes, the Snagless Sally lineup has been expanded to include 1/2-, 3/4-, and 1-ounce sizes, giving pike (and muskie) anglers more options.

Tackle Tip

  • Pegging Plastics

Soft-plastic flukes and stickbaits like Lunker City Slug-Gos and Yum Dingers can be hot tickets to pike in weedy water. Rigged on wide-gap hook, these slow sinkers can be walked, snapped, and paused in midwater to trigger vicious strikes. In-Fisherman John Kolbeck passed along his solutions for rigging these plastics. He was fishing for pike in shallow weedy areas and around fallen timber with Slug-Gos, walking the dog about a foot under water and crawling baits over patches of dead reeds. He connected the hook to a loop in the wire leader to maximize bait action.The problem was that the lure would slide down the hook shank into the hook-bend, preventing solid hook-sets. The first attempt was to peg the lure to the eye of the hook, but this kept the lure from swinging freely on the leader loop. Kolbeck offers three solutions:1. Thread the nose of the lure onto the hook. Double over a short piece of rubber band and thread onto the hook before inserting the hook into the body of the lure. Slide the rubber band piece up past the bait-keeper bend of the hook an tight against the nose of the lure.2. Rig the lure onto the hook, being sure not to cover the hookeye. Insert a toothpick into the bait at a 90-degree angle just in front of the bait-keeper bend in the hook and trim the toothpick ends. 3.  Starting with about a 2-inch section of pipe cleaner, strip about 1/4 inch of the fuzzy material from one end. Attach the bare-wire end to the hookeye, being sure not to foul the loose leader connection. Wrap the fuzzy end of the pipe cleaner around the shank of the hook just above the bait-keeper bend. This option allows you to add a bit of color as well.

Tackle Tip

  • Spoon Modification

Exchanging the treble hook for a single hook on a spoon can make it more weedless. And whatever weeds the hook picks up often can be ripped free with a few sharp snaps of the rod. Lonnie King switches out for single siwash-style hooks where single barbless hooks are mandatory, as is the case in some trophy pike waters in Canada. The Eagle Claw 84 is another good hook option.King suggests installing the hook so its point is on the concave (top) side of the spoon when retrieved. You can also rig a soft plastic trailer texposed to make it even more weedless, and for adding customized actions and profiles. To keep the trailer from slipping down the hook shank, use a clip-on screw-lock like the Tru-Turn HitchHiker ­(ttiblakemore.com), Bass Pro Shops XPS Keeper Spring (basspro.com), or Clinch Spring from First Mate Lures (firstmatelures.com).You can also add an extra split ring, extending the connection and allowing the hook to move more freely.   Use the Fastach Clip from Stringease Tackle ­(stringease.com), which extends the distance between hook and lure and makes hook changes quick and easy.

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Pike Top Water Lures – How to Use

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that are fascinating. Willing participants, pike are often eager to take a bait off the water’s surface because the presentation appears to them to be an easy meal.

Here are three preferred topwater baits and tips on using them for pike.

Cigar, Or Walk-The-Dog, Lures

A favorite topwater for pike is a walk-the-dog bait, such as Heddon’s Zara Spook or Rapala’s Skitter Walk.

Best fished with a stout baitcasting rod, you must impart a side-to-side swimming motion to the bait. Do this by twitching the rod tip down, then immediately raising it again. This causes the bait to jerk to the side. Raising the rod gives the lure slack line to pull as it glides. After a split-second pause, start another twitch to cause the bait to turn and glide in the other direction. Continuous twitching results in side-to-side surface motion that causes a lot of commotion. The sight is often too much for pike to pass up.

topwaterA Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

To share some tips on using these baits, one effective tactic found is mixing up the tempo of the twitches throughout the retrieve. Slowing it down or speeding it up often triggers hits. If a fish swipes at a bait, but misses it you can often get a pike to hit again. One method is prolonging the pause between twitches. After some practice you can get the bait to dance in the strike zone for a while. This conveys an injured and disoriented fish. Pike will often return to hit again with this tactic. Another option is continuing the retrieve and then casting back over the area again.

top-water-mainProp Baits
These baits are easy to work. Simply cast out and reel it in on a steady retrieve. The lure’s metallic tail spins as you pull it through the water. This prop appendage creates a plopping sound and leaves a wake on the surface. The steady rhythm and straight path make it easy for pike to hone in on. A word of advice when working these lures: don’t retrieve them too quickly. The best tempo is often a pace just fast enough for the blades to be continuously turning.

An alternative to a steady retrieve with these lures is using a twitch-pause pattern. This is particularly effective for lures with blades in the front as well as on the rear. The metallic sputtering caused by the twitch is extremely effective at attracting pike.

This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weed bed.

Buzzbaits

Unlike the above lures, which often feature treble-hook clad models, buzzbaits are a single-hook lure. The up facing hook point makes a fairly weedless presentation. Buzzbaits have either metal or plastic blades attached at one end of a wire form, which has a dressed hook at the lower end. These lures excel at fishing the shallow, weedy haunts pike frequently inhabit.  Cast them on the edge of lily pad bays, among sparsely growing rice or reed areas, and sunken wood zones. In fact, anywhere you think might hold pike are good places to cast buzzbaits. Bring it in on a fairly steady retrieve, but keep in mind twitches in the rod tip or changing the bait’s direction can trigger strikes.

When targeting pike with topwaters, remember that calm to slight ripple conditions are best. Don’t be afraid to try topwaters in small waves though because big fish often hunt in the turmoil caused by waves, and will still take surface lures. Pike are always surveying their habitat for easy meals; often, a topwater is one of the best lures to portray vulnerability. Not to mention that watching a northern hit a surface lure always gets the adrenaline flowing!

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The RAP’s Get The MONSTER PIKE!

IMG_0551 (300x400) Trolling Tactics

When it comes to trolling  for Monster Northern Pike, the following lures are a must have for any fishing enthusiast.

While the Northern Pike can easily be caught from shore, or casting from a boat, there is another tactic most often ignored by the fishing enthusiast. Trolling for monster Northern Pike is one of the most proven methods for covering large bodies of water (the preference here at Wawang Lake) and increasing a fisherman’s chances of success.

Northern Pike are Active All Day Long
Because the Northern Pike are active throughout the day, it really is quite easy to tie into one of these lunkers. The trick is to make sure you have the proper drag setting, a wire leader and the right trolling lure. After that, it’s simply a matter of covering the right territory and waiting for that violent attack.

Northern Pike are notorious for quick strikes, long fights and deep dives. They are one of the most sought-after freshwater game fishes worldwide. Considered by many to be the freshwater’s version of a barracuda, these fish are determined fighters and voracious eaters. So, what are the best lures and trolling tactics to catch these fish?

Rapala “Husky Jerk” Suspending Minnows

$(KGrHqNHJFYFD1kCnVlqBQ9,mhoVlQ~~60_35Rapala is world renowned for their full line of balsa minnows and is considered by many fishing enthusiasts as the pre-eminent lure designer. After all, they’ve been making balsa wood minnows since 1936. Their best lure for trolling is the Rapala “Husky Jerk” Suspending lure and it comes in a variety of colors from gold, silver, perch color, bass color and even clear.

These lures can be tolled at controlled depths of 4-8 feet below the surface. In addition, the lure includes a rattle chamber that increases the likelihood of a strike.

Rapala X-Rap XR10 Jerkbait1408862_290

Much like the Rapala “Husky Jerk”, the X-Rap XR10 Jerkbait is a perfect trolling lure for Pike. In this case, it’s all about the X-Rap’s darting and cutting action through the water. When trolling this Rapala, make sure to vary speeds and add some extra motion. The lure is intended to suspend itself and dart once retrieved.

Rapala XRAP Magnums & Jointed Minnows

Both the XRAP Magnum and the Jointed Minnow offer Northern Pike enthusiasts the opportunity to go a little deeper than the two previously mentioned lures. In this case, depending upon the size, the lures can go as low as 30 feet down. However, most effective lures for Pike should stay around the 5-10 feet range, so be sure to purchase the appropriate size.

While many of these lures, including the Magnum and Jointed imagesMinnow Rapalas, are considered saltwater lures, they are still extremely effective when trolling for Northern Pike in freshwater lakes. In addition, because Pike share so much of their territory with Walleye, it’s not uncommon to nail a trophy walleye as well. Either way, make sure to match the rod and line strength with the depth these lures will be fished at.

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Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

As the adage goes, the weakest link between you and a fish falls squarely on the shoulders of your line. With a market saturated with choices, including monofilament, copolymer and braid, shedding some light on the latest to join the fraternity — fluorocarbon — will help you become a more informed, and successful angler.

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The Lowdown
Although not a newcomer to the fishing scene, the buzz about fluorocarbon line has exploded over the last couple of years. In terms of manufacturing, fluorocarbon is a polymer consisting of fluorine that has been chemically bonded with carbon. This chemical makeup has almost the same light refraction rate that water holds, or in laymen terms, it appears virtually invisible when in the water.

A fluorocarbon leader works great when chasing toothy critters, such as northern pike.

Fluorocarbon line has unique properties in comparison to monofilament, making it resistant to degradation from such outside sources as sunlight, gasoline, or DEET (a common component of insect repellant). As most anglers know, monofilament will break down when exposed to such substances — that’s not the case with fluorocarbon.

If those benefits weren’t enough, fluoro will not absorb water (another factor in line failure and degradation in monofilament), is denser than H20 so it sinks, has greater abrasion qualities, and is highly sensitive with a decrease in stretch.

Sound too good to be true? Those all are facts, although independent testers are beginning to question the claim of fluoro’s decreased stretch properties — the jury is still out on that one. For now, take the manufacturer’s word on it.

To achieve all of these benefits, however, make sure the line you purchase is 100 percent fluorocarbon. Not all of them on the market are 100 percent fluorocarbon so check on it before you purchase.

All in all, fluorocarbon brings some excellent advancements to the forefront of line development. Like anything, though, there are advantages and disadvantages. Here is the nitty-gritty on those.

39.5_(2)

Best Uses For Fluorocarbon Line
T
he two most intriguing properties fluoro holds,  are its near invisibility and a significant resistance to abrasion. The advantages of invisible line are great — with clear water applications, finicky fish, and finesse presentations. Catch rates can increase significantly when faced with these tricky situations, and switching to a line such as fluorocarbon can see a dramatic upturn — especially where stealth is concerned.

With more anglers concentrating on abrasive structure areas (rocks, wood, docks, snags), using a tough line that can hold up better. Fluoro can bring the added benefit of toughness and resistance when facing these conditions.

Increased sensitivity — a factor that makes many anglers fall in love with braid — is also worth a look with fluoro. Presentations such as tossing crankbaits, jigging (especially deep-water and drop-shotting), and working soft stickbaits can be done more effectively with fluoro.

Clear water and finicky fish are ideal conditions for tossing crankbaits with fluorocarbon.

Fluorocarbon’s sinking properties also make it beneficial for those trying to gain extra depth when fishing certain lures, be it crankbaits or wacky worms, as well as ensuring that they sink at a faster rate of speed.

If the stretch claims are true, sinking the hooks into fish more quickly during certain situations (deep-water jigging comes to mind, as stretch can impede hook penetration), puts fluorocarbon out on top again.

The Downside To Fluorocarbon
The following situations are not necessarily disadvantages, but more so occasions where fluoro may not be the best choice.

If working slow moving topwater baits — think Pop R’s — fluoro’s ability to sink may impede both the action of your lure, as well as your efficiency in picking up line for wrist and arm movements.

Although many improvements have been made, fluorocarbon line does exhibit a greater stiffness and more of a memory than traditional lines. This can cause problems when using spinning gear (due to their small spools and the manner the line comes off), as well as on baitcast gear if braking systems are not properly adjusted. It takes a bit of getting used to.

Of course, expense has to be mentioned when dealing with any fishing product. Expect to pay significantly more for fluorocarbon line. Prices vary across the board, with some line economical and others high-priced.  Therefore, read specific reviews, heed positive reports, and ultimately make an informed decision before buying. Utilizing a backing on your reels, such as monofilament, to cut down on cost is definitely recommended.

IMG_0551 (300x400)Leader Material
Many folks also use fluorocarbon line as a leader material, as certain situations don’t warrant a full spool of fluoro.  Carolina rigs are another good choice for fluoro leaders, as are drop shots, walleye jigging, and when trolling or casting for toothy critters. Again, if it is only your offering that will benefit from the use of fluoro, then tying on a leader is the way to go.

Deep-water jigging is a great technique for utilizing fluorocarbon line.

Knots are a hotly-debated subject with fluoro line — tie one wrong or improperly, and line failure at the knot can certainly occur. Spending a little extra time getting that knot perfect can make all the difference. It’s definitely not as forgiving as mono, at least in knot strength.

Ask five anglers their preference and chances are you’ll get many different answers. Suggested knots to try are Uni to Uni, Blood, and Surgeons, although there are a host of others. Again, experiment and see which works best for you.

As for line to lure knots, Palomar and the Double Clinch seem to get the most play. Whichever you choose, lubricating the knot is paramount to decreasing the risk of failure, as well as ensuring that line doesn’t fall on top of other layers. Similar to doing your homework on the best line, investigate the best knots before heading out for the day.

As you can see from this overview, flurocarbon line can bring some specific perks to fishing. Although not advantageous to all situations you may encounter, I’d recommend introducing it to your arsenal this season in order to see what all the fuss is about.

Line will always remain the most crucial link between you and that trophy fish, so choose wisely.

 

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