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Category Archives: Northern Pike

How to Fish During the Cold Fronts

 

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We’ve all had to face it at one time or another – waking up on the day of your fishing trip to a chill in the air and bluebird skies to boot. What you are experiencing is the passing of a cold front, a weather occurrence that can shut down fish, and cause severe headaches for an angler. Fishing will be tough – there’s no two ways about it – but it is possible to put some fins in the boat if you are prepared to alter your delivery.

Try these techniques the next time you face a cold front and watch your catch rate increase dramatically.

What is a Cold Front?
A common definition of a cold front is as follows: “A narrow zone of transition between relatively cold, dense air that is advancing and relatively warm, less dense air that is retreating.”

cold_frontA cold front actually takes a day or so before the drop in temperature sets in and the skies become blue. This typically shows itself in the form of high winds, rainy weather or thunderstorms. It’s those kinds of days where all hell breaks loose, as the approaching front is causing a disturbance as the differing masses come together.

As the cold front approaches, fishing can be excellent. Fish become wired and active, feeding up a storm and hitting baits with ferocious strength. Even the fish know that once the front passes, they will take on a neutral or negative mood, and will develop a case of lockjaw for a couple of days. So, they feed heavily in preparation of this ‘dormant’ stage.

If you can get out on the water as a front approaches, I would certainly suggest it. Enjoy it while you can, because within a day or so, things will be much different.
Post cold front conditions vary greatly from the actual cold front. Clear blue skies, calm winds and colder temperatures are the norm, and not the exception. The change in pressure and temperature seems to shut down the fish, causing them to retreat to heavier cover, sulk on the bottom structure and become extremely inactive.

woods and weedsWhere To Find Fish
After a cold front has passed, fish stage in predictable areas of a lake. Don’t expect fish to be moving around much, nor, will there be much activity in the open water shallows.

For northern pike, thick vegetation or heavy cover are good places to start. Most fish under these circumstances will snuggle into the security of some sort of structure, content to sit still and wait out the prospect of changing weather.  The thicker the cover you can find, the better your chances of having fish present.

Depending on the type of lake, walleye will either seek out a thick weed bed and position themselves smack dab in the middle, or if rocks and boulders are concerned, they will sit right on bottom, remaining primarily motionless.

No matter what the species, seeking out the shelter and comfort of thick vegetation or other structure is a likely scenario. Remaining in a neutral or negative mood is a given

Downsize Your Lures
Although a northern pike may have no trouble hitting a ten-inch lure during a ‘normal’ day of fishing, he certainly won’t be as forthcoming after a front has moved through. Scale back on the size of the lures you are tossing, downgrading to finesse style baits for a better reaction. Since you are downsizing your lures, lowering the thickness of your line is also a good idea. Not only will get more of a lifelike action with your baits, but also less likelihood of scaring away line-shy fish.
Lightweight lures and line are most certainly in, and will often be the only thing that gets the attention of a heavyweight.

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S-l-o-w Things Down
When fish are inactive, the last thing they want to do is chase down a fast moving buzzbait, or a spinnerbait cranked at a lightning fast tempo. They just won’t exert the energy, nor do they have the initiative to do so.

Work your baits in a ‘slow motion’ mentality. Even if it seems excruciatingly painful to be fishing a worm or tube with nary a movement, continue to stick with it. If anything, slow it down even more. Dead sticking a bait is a great technique that can bring positive results.

Think Vertical Instead of Horizontal
A neutral fish has a small strike zone or feeding window. What this means is, unless a lure comes within six-inches or a foot to a fish’s snout, he will not be willing, or convinced to strike it. The closer you can get to the strike zone, the better your chances for success.

Vertical baits work well in this situation because they can spend more time in the strike zone, as opposed to a horizontal bait moving through relatively quickly.

Switch to Live Bait
When the fish are finicky, switching to God’s lures is the way to go – you guessed it, live bait. Minnows, worms or leeches will all work well, and will play on a fish’s natural prey attitudes and preference.
Slip floats, live bait rigs and tipped jigs all have a time and place, and post cold front conditions are definitely one of them.

Scent It Up
If live bait isn’t available to you, making your artificials smell and taste like the real thing is the next best thing to do. Go with tried and true scents, including crawdad, shad and worm. Any extra second you can get a fish to bite and hold on, is an extra second you can get those hooks into him.

Cold fronts don’t have to be the kiss of death in fishing. Although the fish may of changed locations, and be reluctant to hit baits, it doesn’t mean they are uncatchable. All it usually takes is a change of tactics to get into some fish again.

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Targeting BIG Pike

Big pike are  predators and also not pushovers. 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 meet a variety of criteria, including access to food, shelter, ambushing opportunities, water temperature, and oxygen levels.

Prime areas that often meet these criteria for large pike after they’ve spawned in the shallows are points, humps and saddles. Here’s a refresher on these time-honored 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 as 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.

hump1Humps
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 feet often have weed growth, which will attract all sizes of pike. Deeper, rocky humps that top out around 20- to 35 feet 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
When 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.

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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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Big Tube Jigs For Autumn Pike

# 1 choice of lure for Lahrman Group 6/2013

Wawang Lake is the # 1 choice for the Lahrman Group – Chicago (area), IL

There are few a shorter days and cooling water are signals to northern pike that autumn has arrived. During fall, these sleek predators will feed heartily to pack on energy reserves to help them etter ways to catch pike in cold water than using big profile jigs, and giant tubes are particularly productive baits.

Pike Locations From Early Fall To Ice Up
Fall is very much a time of transition. At the start of autumn, pike will still relate to healthy weeds, but as shallow plants die look for northern in deeper vegetation zones. Tributaries and the mouths of feeder streams on rivers are also good late-season spots as baitfish stage in these areas. Sharp breaks where walleyes hold will also attract pike, which will eat walleyes any chance they get. Rock-gravel reefs and points adjacent to deep water are good whitefish and cisco (lake herring) spawning grounds. These two prey species spawn between October and November, so these structures make prime late-fall pike spots.Current areas also attract pike year-round. As an example, on lakes the narrows between shore and an island often has wind-induced current traveling through it. This pushes in baitfish and pike follow.   Northern wait in ambush in current breaks, such as eddies, outwash holes, and deep pools.

An autumn-sized bait. Pictured here is WaterWolf Lures's 7-inch Gator Tube with a 9/0, 1-ounce jig head.

An autumn-sized bait. Pictured here is WaterWolf Lures’s 7-inch Gator Tube with a 9/0, 1-ounce jig head.

Basic Tube Jigs Tips
Big tube jigs between 5- and 7 inches are a supreme autumn bait. The bait’s thickness also appeals to northern stocking up on calories. When pike are sluggish as a result of cold water these baits also have just enough action to get fish interested. Their multi-filament appendages wave at the slightest movement and are deadly at triggering bites when pike are sluggish. Tubes are outstanding lures to work on swimming retrieves. Pumping the rod tip during the retrieve will add either a side-to-side twitch or an up-and-down bob to the tube depending on its rigging.

When fishing tubes near the bottom, be alert and keep a feel on the bait at all times as it sinks. Tubes fall in a shimmy or a spiral that imitates a dying fish and pike often strike during the initial drop. Once on the bottom, you can use either a lazy, lift-drop swim or a drag-pause retrieve.

Hooking Followers Fall fish can be lazy and follows are common. The best scenario is spotting an aggressive fish a distance from the boat. In this case, try speeding up the retrieve or adding some snaps. This imitates escape-moves and sometimes triggers bites. If the fish appears lazy, slow the retrieve slightly. If working the bait along the bottom, add pauses or experiment with the length of drags. Slow twitches that impart an escape-like dart to tubes can also evoke strikes. If you spot a following pike close to the boat while your jig is traveling upwards, letting out line so the jig falls is your best option.

Tackle useTips Rig tube jigs using a long-shank jig head. Large baits featuring a wide body cavity will accommodate a range of jig-head styles. Also, adding a stinger treble hook on a wire leader to large 7-inch tubes can help with hook-up rates when pike bite short.

pikeBig tubes demand heavy gear.  Use heavy-power bait cast outfits. For deep-water applications, use rods at least 7 feet, and most preferred is a 7-1/2’ for better line control when drifting and moving line for deep-water hook sets.

This autumn try casting tube jigs around deep weed edges and rocky structures. This non-traditional tactic is a great way to boat bragging-size northern pike.

 

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Northern Pike Handling, Filleting & Take the ‘Y’ Bones Out

When it comes to caring for Pike that you plan to use at home, the first and probably most important step in assuring a quality meal is to keep the fish fresh prior to cleaning.   Compared to other popular game fish, the flesh of Northern Pike is among the most likely to deteriorate if care is not taken to keep the fish fresh right up to the cleaning table.   When you plan to save some for the table, one great approach is to wait until later in your fishing trip before you start saving fish to take home.

northern_catch
After filleting it’s best to freeze your filets properly for transportation back home from the lodge.  All your hard work out on the lake could be confiscated by a game warden for the following reasons:

  • frozen in one big blob is considered ‘unidentifiable’
  • failure to keep one square inch patch of skin on the filet
  • packaged improperly (the correct procedure is one fish per package, layed out flat – side by side)

Keeping fish frozen during your stay allows for easy transportation all the way home.  Frozen fish takes the place of ice, however, midway you may want to check the cooler to inspect your filets and add fish accordingly as this could  make a difference at the dinner table.

Another key factor in preparing gourmet meals using Northern Pike is to avoid saving Pike in the freezer for periods of time.  Pike flesh contains a particular Amino Acid that breaks down fairly quickly while fish are stored in the freezer too long. So even if you’ve taken great care to keep the fish fresh up to this point, you could be disappointed when you pull out a package of fish that you’ve been saving for that special occasion.  Because Pike are not well suited for long-term storage, at the simple rule of thumb is Pike are to be eaten within a couple of weeks. 

Removing the “Y” bones from Pike fillets is part of the mystery that has kept lots of otherwise willing anglers away from using these fish in recipes and removing these small bones is really easy! Even the smallest Pike can be easily de-boned by anyone who can fillet a Walleye or most any other fish. In fact, even the term “Y” bone is a misnomer because this so called “Y” bone really isn’t much different than the strip of bones that you’d remove from a Walleye or any other fish caught in our waters. It just happens to be sandwiched into the grain of the fillet where it is protected from “frying out”. 

This is one of those times when it would be easier to do the job than it is to describe how to do it, but look at the picture of the finished fillets and you’ll get a good idea of how to follow these instructions.

npBegin by filleting the fish and removing the rib bones as you would a Walleye or most other freshwater fish. Once you have taken the fillet, study it for a minute. Take a look at the centerline that divides the fillet horizontally and notice the row of light bones visible halfway between this centerline and the top (fishes back) of the fillet. You will be making one cut on each side of this row of bones. You’ll also see that the flesh has a “grain” much like the grain of a nice oak board. The “Y” bones run with this grain and you can use this grain as a directional guide when making your cuts.

COMPLETE DIAGRAM BELOW:

Cut 1:
Start by making a cut just above this row of bones that you can see (and feel). This first cut will be shallow (about ¼ inch) and it is perpendicular to the fillet. This simple, straight cut is used mostly as an access cut to get your knife into position for the next step. Using the tip of your fillet knife, you’ll be able to feel the edge of your knife contact the bones at the inside corner of this “L”  where the bones turn toward the top of the fillet. When you feel the knife contacting those bones, take care not to cut through them.

Cut 2:
Turn the edge of your knife toward the top of the fillet at about a 45-degree angle and follow this edge. You’ll be able to see the bones as you gently slip your knife-edge along this edge. Stop the cut before you reach the top edge of the fillet.

Cut 3:
This is the finishing touch. Start this cut below the row of bones on the side nearest the centerline and simply follow the same angle that you used to make cut 2. As the edge of your knife moves toward the top of the fillet, you’ll begin to feel this strip of bones peeling away from the rest of the fillet. Trim along these edges as needed to remove the strip and voila, you’re finished.

ybone


So There you have it, all you need is a little faith in yourself, a fairly good fillet knife and a little practice. You will soon learn that there is really no trick at all and before long your family and friends will be standing in line at dinner time waiting to sample your newest Pike recipe.

ENJOY YOUR NEXT FEED OF PIKE!

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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Fishing, Northern Pike, pike

 

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The Complete Pike Arsenal

7Some of us like to target pike. From the time the ice melts until the lakes freeze over again, we’re out on the water slinging heavy metal on big-diameter rods fishing all day for just a couple of bites. We might also be pushing that bow-mount electric motor to the edge of its specifications in vegetation so thick on the surface it’s hard to believe there are loads of pike hiding around the sparse stalks just a few feet down.

Pike ambush their prey, which means cover, in the form of vegetation, is a good place to find them. Wherever there is a big weedy flat, there will be pike.

During the early season, you cannot beat a spinnerbait for pike. When the fish are aggressive, you can use up to a 1-ounce lure with a big willow-leaf or Indiana-style blade. When the pike bite requires some finesse, a 1/2-ounce lure with a Colorado-style blade is the best option.

With a willow-leaf or Indiana blade, you must maintain speed for the lure to produce enough flash to attract pike. The Colorado blade is the slow, precise option. When you quit reeling and drop the tip on a Colorado-bladed spinnerbait, the lure flutters down, creating a helicopter effect and floating the skirted leadhead right into a pocket or along the edge of a weed line.

Crankbaits are deadly for pike, but when combined with a heavy wire leader with big snaps, there is a definite impediment to the lure’s action. There is a remedy for this situation. It’s called Tyger Leader. Tyger Leader (www.tygerleader.com) is a stainless steel knottable leader that you can tie directly to the lure. A 5-, 10-, even a 15-pound-test is a small enough diameter to allow the crankbait to run true to form.

booyah_super_shad_spinnerbaitStart with a small barrel swivel on the line from the reel. Tie the Tyger Leader to the swivel. Use a piece about a foot long and you’re covered. But if you’re like me, changing lures every half hour, start with 18 to 20 inches, and by the end of the day you’re left with about 6 inches. You can tie the crankbait directly to the leader and it will run straight and wobble just like it’s been tied to the braided line from the reel.

Some pike anglers swear by spoons. Spoons can generate some solid bites, but there are days when pike will just follow the lure and not hit it. When this is the case, thread three 2-inch scented grub tails onto a treble hook. The fluttering tail with the added scent turns those followers into biters.

If you are a spoon expert, try the 1 1/2-ounce Sebile Onduspoon – they are loaded with rattles and have a unique action when used with a steady retrieve. Pike seem to love them, so be sure to use a wire leader because they will inhale them.

Pike love plastic worms. Those reaper tails and brush-hog bodies that are found by the gross in bass anglers’ boxes are deadly, but pike anglers haven’t figured it out yet.  A favorite plastic presentations for pike consists of a No. 4/0 weighted worm hook tipped with a Gulp!  Crazy Legs Jerk Shad. You don’t rig this with the hook weed less like you would if fishing for bass. No, you make sure the hook is exposed.

spoonsUse a 1/16-ounce weighted hook so the drop is slow. With the plastic body you can cast this rig some distance, but the goal is to just pitch it into pockets in the weeds and let it sink for a few seconds. Then, using a twitch-and-stop retrieve, bring it back to the boat.

Those old grizzled pike anglers with multiple scars on their hands from getting too close to a big pike’s gill rakers prefer to use minnows — big sucker minnows. These anglers anchor at a favorite spot and watch those bobbers swim around as the big suckers try to submerge into the vegetation.

That’s the secret. You want the minnow struggling to escape, so position the hook below the bobber so the bait is a few inches above the vegetation.

There are tricks to get the minnow to attract even more pike. Some anglers trim fins. Take a nip off one of the side fins and the minnow will swim in an erratic circle. Knock off half the tail fin and the minnow really struggles to stay upright. A struggling minnow is an enticement pike cannot resist. That’s why it’s important to keep the bait fresh as well. After a half hour, replace the minnow with a fresh one, although if the fish are biting, you may go through a few suckers in that amount of time.

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Other items found in the complete pike arsenal are a mouth spreader and long-nosed pliers. The prevalent mouth spreaders are wire springs that wrench the pike’s jaw open and cut right through their mouth. Toss it out. Berkley developed a new mouth spreader that has a low impact on pike. The pliers, of course, come into play when the pike’s mouth is spread open. You can see by the sheer numbers of teeth that it would be a really stupid idea to reach into that cavernous jaw and dislodge the hooks with your bare hand.

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Tips: How To Work Three Top Pike Baits

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Topwater Lures

Many species are a blast to catch using topwater lures, but northern pike frequently charge baits with an unbridled aggression that is simply fascinating. The ever 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

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

Rapala-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.

TopRaider

A Topraider is a trophy-hunting topwater prop lure.

To share some tips on using these baits, one effective   tactic 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.   I’ve lost count of the number of pike I’ve got on a follow-up cast after they missed the bait the first time.

Prop Baits

imagesCARRGNJF

This pike hit a prop bait worked over a river weedbed

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.

Buzzbaits

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. I’ll 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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Think Outside The Box For Pike

There is a corner where the big bucktailed spinnerbaits are hanging, surrounded by a mix of both deep-diving and shallow-diving crankbaits in all the popular color patterns. There are a few spoons mingling with the big wooden and plastic minnow imitators, but one-fourth of the box is laden with big jigs next to packages of big plastic bodies. There are even a number of pre-tied wire leaders sitting on top some 3/4- and 1-ounce egg sinkers. The leaders are sporting 2/0 hooks secured directly to the stranded wire, with a ball-bearing swivel secured to the other end.
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Sometimes you just need to think outside of the box when you’re chasing pike

Jigs work well for a vertical presentation as well. When pike are just off the bottom at the base of a weedy flat or point, get right over them with the boat and just drop the jig straight down – twitch the jig and keep it moving, but when you’re fishing vertically like that, you can target those deep pike you see on the sonar.
vertical

To get right into the vegetation,  take a pre-tied leaders and rig the plastic worm up Texas style and fish it just like for bass. Use a cone sinker above the swivel for this so you can get it through the weeds easily and just move that worm through the weeds. Pike like vegetation and you can dig them out of it with this big plastic worm rigged weedless.”

Those pre-tied leaders also work well with live bait it’s no different than a live-bait rig you would use for a walleye except that you have a stranded-wire leader and a bigger — much bigger — hook.

Live-bait rig for pike works best along a sparse weedline or just out from the vegetation where there is little vegetation to get snagged on and if you’re working in heavy cover with live bait, you’re pretty much stuck using a bobber, but when you can work an edge, this live-bait rig is the best option.

Live-bait rigging for pike and jigging for them with plastics are both techniques more prone to a walleye or bass angler’s game plan. These are probably techniques that only get used under unusual circumstances, right?  Actually, the standard lures are going to catch fish, no doubt about that.  But when you’re on a body of water and the weather has created some tough fishing conditions, these non-traditional techniques should be your go-to options. It’s just that anglers are so used to the standard presentations that they don’t think about trying something different.

Like a swim bait?  Bass fishermen love swim baits, but pike fishermen still haven’t discovered how good these work. Tie a piece of colored yarn to the eye of that treble hook, and you’ve added a splash of color and made the lure a little different, maybe more attractive to a pike.

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Scenario:  It was early season, and the pike were still up in the backwater vegetation and shallows, we  had been dragging spinnerbaits and shallow-diving crankbaits through the cabbage and tree branches, and all we caught were a few small northerns. You could see these schools of minnows busting out of the water around you and we were casting to this forage because we figured something was trying to eat it, but we couldn’t get the fish to bite.

After a few frustrating hours, we started digging for something different and discovered a package of 4-inch Slurpies’ Swim Shads we had picked up at the bait shop to try. We tied one on.

Turn out that was the right move, every time some minnows would break the surface we would cast right to the boil. That lure wouldn’t sink a foot and a big pike had grabbed it. We tried crankbaits and spinnerbaits, but it was the swim bait that the pike wanted. Needless to say we used them a lot since then, and they’re something different that the pike haven’t seen a lot, and that lure triggers bites. For working over the tops of a big weedbed, you can’t beat a swim bait.”

So, are the spinnerbaits and crankbaits in the tackle box becoming obsolete? Hardly, those lures still catch plenty of pike, but we also learned a few tricks to spice them up.

Considering what we might do to a spinnerbait that has had a few pike chase it to the boat and fail to grab it.   We pulled off the plastic skirt and replace it with a scented body, like a Berkley Power Hawg or a 7-inch Gulp Turtleback Worm.  This way, not only did we get some additional squirm action, but we also got the benefit of the scent.

But you can’t doctor the crankbaits without messing up the action, right?  Sure you can.  Just take a piece of thin red yarn and tie it to the eye of the back treble hook. That little dash of color, and pike really trigger on that red, won’t affect the action of the lure at all, and it works. But don’t limit yourself to just red. Sometimes green or orange or even blue might be the color that does the trick.

Does the yarn trick also work for spoons, too?  You bet it does. Tie a piece of colored yarn to the eye of that treble hook, and you’ve added a splash of color and made the lure a little different, maybe more attractive to a pike.  Sometimes we’ll take a Johnson Silver Minnow and thread a grubtail on the hook. That adds some scent, too. It’s a little added enticement that can make a big difference to the outcome of your fishing day.

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What about the old “minnow-under-a-bobber” presentation that is a fixture in a pike angler’s repertoire? There isn’t any thinking outside the box for that technique, is there?  That’s why we carry that scissors.  Clip one of the side fins or trim off the tail on that sucker or shiner you’re dangling under the bobber, and you get a struggling minnow instead of one that is just happily sitting there. Pike can’t resist a minnow that’s struggling.

What differentiates the anglers who catch fish and the ones who don’t is the fine line between those who are using presentations that they were told to use and hope for a bite, and those who think outside the box to create a bite. Success  is always thinking outside that hefty tackle box with all those lures and gadgets — which eventually lead to catching  fish!

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