Tag Archives: Northern pike

15 Top Lures For Pike Fishing

When the stars align and the feeding window is open, a big  pike will hit anything that moves. Your bait selection doesn’t matter and all you have to do is be in the right place at the right time. If you’re lucky, you’ll experience this feeding-frenzy action once or twice a season. The rest of your time hunting trophy pike will be spent cranking, casting, and waiting. The right presentation will make the difference between a bite and a follow-up. So, don’t waste all of your effort pitching second-rate lures. Here’s our round up of the best pike fishing baits on the market right now.

Heddon Rattlin’ SpookPMlures_01The Spook’s renowned walk-the-dog style has long been a pike pleaser – especially over grass. The Rattlin’ model’s tungsten BBs emit an intense sound that mimics fleeing baitfish. These rattles also serve to enhance the bait’s walking retrieve. ($6.99,

Booyah Pikee

PMlures_02Strong and durable, this ½-ounce double willow leaf spinnerbait boasts a tough Vibra-Flx wire frame that stands up to powerful jaws with lots of teeth. The Pikee comes with a 12-inch steel leader for added insurance against big biters. ($5.99,

YUM DingerPMlures_03
The 7-inch version of this flexible stickbait does a good job of presenting a baitfish profile for pike and musky. Rig the bait Texas style over weeds or wacky style when working open water. ($5.79,

Eppinger Daredevle SpoonPMlures_04a

The 00 size of this classic spoon has seen plenty of teeth mark, and for good reason. The wiggling, wobbling action puts out a lot of flash and vibration to resemble a fleeing baitfish. Trolled or cast, the Daredevle tempts pike and musky in a broad range of depths. ($9.70,

Blue Fox Super BouPMlures_05
Big on the visuals and big on fish-grabbing ability, the size 10 Super Bou imitates mature baitfish and sprouts double trebles to snare the toothy predators that seek them. Tandem blades, combined with Marabou, Hackle and Flashabou fibers create a lifelike undulating action, while the free-turning brass gear emits sonic vibration and rattles when it strikes the outer shell. ($21.69,

Mepps H210PMlures_06
There’s nothing modest about this heavyweight tandem spinner, but big muskies don’t do modest. Nine inches from eye to tail, the 3-ounce H210 emits big-time thump with its twin brass Indiana blades, while a bright 100-percent holographic tail is hand-tied to tandem 7/0 VMC cone cut hooks. ($39.80,

Suick Weighted Holographic Musky Thriller Jerkbait

The weighted version of the original Musky Thriller carries its unique shape and enticing wiggle deeper. Holographic finishes shimmer like real baitfish. ($27.70,

Tackle Industries Super D Swimbait

A whopping 14-inches long with its tail extended, this sturdy swimbait is built around a full Body Lock coil harness that keeps the soft plastic body in place, while connecting two underside trebles to the frame linked to jig head. The 5-ounce Super D counts down at about a foot per second. Jig it, jerk it or crank it; the Super D’s rocking motion and curly tail put on a big show for big muskies. ($13.99,

Mepps Double Blade Aglia (Size #5)

The popular Aglia design gains enhanced visual appeal, along with maximum sound and vibration from a second blade. Whether it’s flashing metallic blades or contrasting colors, the dual spinners provide added lift for fishing over weeds or other structure. Vividly colored hand-tied bucktails help make this bait easier for fish to spot. ($6.99,

Mepps Syclops (Size #3)

A real pike pleaser, this sleekly contoured spoon casts easily and trolls effectively at most any common speed. Jig it vertically over deep spots or through the ice. ($4.75,

Grandma Jointed Lure

An old-school classic, the flat body and jointed design yields a wobble and shimmy that drives big muskies crazy. When cast, the bait reaches 3-6 feet; trolled, it goes to 12. Made with high-impact plastic and a tough diving lip, a Grandma will withstand the fiercest attack from a toothy giant. ($17.99,

Northland Fishing Tackle Bionic Bucktail Jig

Hand-tied with genuine bucktail, this jig features a versatile double line tie that affords the option of vertical jigging deep water or casting and trolling shallow cover. A stinger hook secured to the jig’s Mustad Ultra-Point hook snares any short strikers. ($5.99,
Cisco Kid Topper

A torpedo profile body with stainless steel propeller blades on the nose and tail create a big topside disturbance that gets the fish looking in the right direction. Effective for pike and muskie, the Cisco Kid Topper works well at a variety of speeds. ($17.95,

Bass Pro Shops Thump N Deal Swimbait

Equipped with a pair of 4/0 short shank trebles, this big bait swims with a slight side-to-side wobble that can be altered by bending and adjusting the internal non-slip body harness. A steady retrieve works best, but an occasional pause or twitch can turn followers into biter. ($17.99,

Koppers Live Target Jointed Yellow Perch

Incredibly realistic body shaping, coloration and fishy detail makes this a hard bait for big predators to ignore. Effective for casting or trolling, the jointed body creates an erratic tail kick that closely mimics the swimming motion of a real perch.  ($12.99,



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Pike – Transitions

Spring is a time when great chunks of the fish population are all doing the same thing: moving into shallow water to reproduce or feed.  Warming, stable water and a soft bottom are two of the keys. Shallow, isolated bays are popular early in the year because this water gains and holds temperature.  You will catch pike early in the year in the shallow backwaters and also along patches of protected, sandy or muddy shorelines. In all cases, the water isn’t being mixed and the bottom is right for fish to drop eggs. Thin slices of warm water are easily blown apart by weather changes. As long as fish can get over the right type of bottom and the temperature stays at a level they like, they can and will spawn in some areas you might drive right by.

Wawang Lake northern pike (10)

The better you know the lake, the more options you’re giving yourself. And even though the general trend for pike in spring is ‘shallow to spawn,’ remember that fish move in and out in waves. You can always find pike in different areas. Some might be waiting to spawn, some might be right in the middle of spawning, some might have spawned and left, and some fish won’t spawn at all. No matter what you fish for, always remember that not all fish do the same things at the same times. There are distinct populations within the same piece of water that live different lives. Fish are like tribes in a jungle. Some raise animals to eat. Others constantly move while following food and hunting. Some might only eat plants found in a certain area.

Wawang Lake northern pike (9)

Spring is a transition month, just as fall is. It’s a period of change that’s leading towards a period of stability. All you have to do to understand the spring weather.   Trips can range from comfortable to downright uncomfortable and you’ve really got to be prepared for it all. You’re not quite out of winter and you’re not into summer yet, either.  For pike, carry a wider range of gear in spring than at any other time of the year. And even though you’re focused mainly on areas that are closer to shore and less than twenty feet deep, be sure to try a range of different techniques in these areas.




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Pike – Rods, Lures & Baits

Baitcaster_ComboCasting for northern pike should be done with a bait casting rod in the seven to eight foot range and fifty or sixty five pound test braided lines, like Power Pro or Tuf Line.  Carry spinning tackle in the same actions too. Seven strand wire and fluorocarbon leaders are obviously mandatory no matter what technique you’re using. In the spring you’ll be dealing with a lot of fish most days, and there’s almost always big ones to be had. A good leader that will hold up to a lot of abuse is very important. Use knotted Sea guar fluorocarbon in forty to sixty pound test. This stuff is durable, you can tie with it, and the average leader will outlast a wire one. Year in and year out, floating and suspending minnow baits are the go-to lure. Between about five and eight inches seems to be the best size range. In bad winds, larger, heavier, suspending baits like H12 Husky Jerk or Suspending Storm Thunder stick are easier to cast and control. When you’re working lures of this size in bad wind, braided line helps you control and feel the bait when it’s far from the boat and a big bow develops in your line. Plus, even little bumps or pops of your rod tip get transmitted right to the nose of the bait.

Floating minnow baits kind of fell out of vogue after everyone started making suspenders, but, baits that run high in the water and rise when you stop moving them can be magic at times. They’re tougher to cast in bad winds, but well worth the effort! Three of the best are:

  • Cordell’s Ripplin Redfin
  • Bomber Long A’s …… and the good old
  • #18 Original Floating Rapala.

Six to nine inch Suicks are great too, and like the #18 Rapala, they cast very well. You can use floaters and suspenders slowly, with lots of pauses, or fish them faster with more snapping and reeling.

Jigging and trolling are two options that consistently produce early in the year also. If you’re not doing well casting, try weaving along spots with a baited spinner rig behind a bottom bouncer, like a Northland Rock Runner.

During many of our springs we see our guests get the biggest pike trolling, and usually within five or six feet of the surface. We’ve seen poor days turned around simply by putting down the casting rods and putting the boat in gear. Using a depth finder + GPS combo will revolutionize the way you fish. Your speed control will improve and so will you knowledge of spots and how thoroughly you work them. Add in a digital map chip and it’s almost unfair!  A popular brand to use is the Lowrance electronics with Navionics map chips.

If you really want to slow down and pick apart good spots, jigging through waypoints, icons and trails is also effective. In or near moving water especially, pike will hang out with the walleye and suckers around deep holes, little slack spots or behind humps and other structures. Locking these spots down on your plotter and working them with a plastic or hair jig is time-consuming, but it works.  Spots near current really stack up fish of all kinds. Once you mark up a few, you can return again and again and find fish.  As the spring runs of walleye and pike tapered off, jigging the humps and seams just outside the rivers can be really productive on bigger fish. Having a good sonar really helps eliminate any downtime spent looking for my spots.

Along with jigging, fishing live or dead baitfish can be the only thing that produces sometimes.  Many have had the best luck doing this in the worst weather, when pike aren’t moving around much and inactive in general.   Fishing ‘meat’ also requires extra attention to your rigging and technique to make sure fish aren’t deeply hooked and injured.



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Don’t Overlook the Pike’s Reflexive Response


Northern Pike are impulsive and will often at times strike through reflexive responses even when they’re not hungry or actively feeding. They are susceptible to being provoked into striking a fast moving lure that crosses their field of vision.

A favorite blue and silver Rapala Husky is a great lure to cast as far as you can with the wind, then proceed to retrieve the bait with a rapid crank, crank, crank, …pause, rip (and repeat) motion back to the boat. Soon by the second cast you’ll begin to see the fruits of your efforts.


Within an hour you’re sure to experience rewards with this frenzied cast and retrieve method of fishing. It is something many know and witness before but for whatever reason some anglers avoid this technique never fully understanding how powerful this approach really is . It’s only natural to fish more carefully when things turn slow and you may have to remind yourself to break out and try something loud, large and fast to get the fish to strike again. Take advantage of a fishes’ evolutionary response to strike reflexively the next time things get slow on the water. It’s sure to reawaken their feeding response and put more fish in the boat.



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Crispy Grilled Pike Sandwiches


This fish sandwich recipe works well with pike, as it suits the smaller fillets that result from removal of the Y-bone. It has the crunch of frying without the oil. Ingredients

• 1 tbsp. canola oil, plus more for brushing
• 1 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
• 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
• ¼ cup fromage blanc (found where ricotta or mascarpone cheese are sold). May substitute with Greek yogurt
• 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
• ½ tsp. hot sauce
• 3 tbsp. chopped cornichon (small gherkin pickle)
• 1 tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
• 2 tsp. tarragon, finely chopped
• Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
• 4 kaiser rolls, split
• 1 6-ounce skinless pike fillet per sandwich
• Lettuce and tomato (topping)


In a small skillet, heat canola oil, add Panko crumbs, and cook over low heat — stirring until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in Old Bay and transfer crumbs to a plate. In a small bowl, whisk the fromage blanc, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, cornichons, parsley, and tarragon. Season the remoulade with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill and oil the grates.

Grill the rolls, cut-side down until lightly toasted.

Transfer to plates and spread with the remoulade. Brush the fish with the canola oil and season with salt and pepper.

Grill over moderate heat, turning once, until fish is cooked through. Transfer the fish to a plate. Press each fillet into the Panko on both sides and place on toasted roll. Top with lettuce and tomato.




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Northern Pike & Temperatures

Finding and catching northern pike is no different than finding and catching any other kind of fish. There are different strategies that apply as the seasons change, and there can also be different locations and approaches that are affected by geography.


Pike are unique in that the methods and spots used to catch small or medium-sized fish can be totally different than those used for larger ones at certain times of the year. Pike are the most temperature-reactive species we have in Ontario. It’s a unique situation. Big pike live and operate in a much different manner than smaller ones do. There are two distinct populations of pike in every lake or river. Anyone who fishes for them needs to create a game plan based on the quality of fish that they’re after. And there are times of the year when you can expect big ones and smaller ones at the same times, using the same methods, on the same spots.

Seasonally, the cooling, warming and cold water periods are when pike are the most predictable. These times are also the best for bigger fish as well as numbers of fish as they’re a cold water species. In Wawang Lake, spring, and fall are when the biggest fish are consistently caught. In the summer, good fish are still totally catchable, but always remember that the temperatures and foods the bigger fish need are normally associated with water that most people aren’t accustomed to fishing. If you remember nothing else about northern pike remember this: Big fish use parts of the water that offer them comfortable water temperatures. Water temperature is the number one limiting factor in what the big fish do. It’s not light penetration, current, cover, lunar phase, fishing pressure or anything else. Water temperature trumps it all.


One of the most important things to remember about water temperature is the number you read from your sonar only applies to the upper skin of the surface, right near the sensor. Late in the fall and right at ice out, the water basically maintains the same temperature from top to bottom. And in summer, water temperatures are highest near that sensor and cooler as you move away from it, deeper. Surface readings on your sonar are only telling you what’s going on within the upper few inches. In mid to late June, surface temps might read 60F or 65F degrees. Try diving off your boat down eight or ten feet – that water is much, much colder! You need to understand, appreciate and respect what temperature does to pike, but you also need to see the bigger picture. A big part of this is remembering that your sonar only describes a tiny slice of the water column that fish don’t spend any time in to begin with, and that it takes a lot longer for larger slices of water to warm and to cool. On big, deep bodies or water, water takes longer to gain warmth, but it can also hold onto it longer.

On top of all that, in spring and early summer especially, there can be huge variances in temperature from one area to the next, and on similar areas from one hour to the next, because of sun, wind or current. When fish are at their shallowest, such as early in the fishing season, pay the greatest attention to temperature. Why? Because:

  1. the fish are using shallower water in general and
  2. because temperatures at this time of year can be so volatile.

Similarly in the fall, we watch for falling water temperatures to signal things like forage movements and/or the breaking up of travel barriers created when the water gets too warm in the summer. You don’t need to study temperature gradients scientifically or buy special instruments to measure data. But you do need to be aware of changes and what they mean to where and how you fish. All fish respond to temperature in one way or another, pike just happen to be one of the most sensitive to it.



The more time you put into anything, the better the chances you’re going to have success. One of the biggest things you can do to consistently catch good sizes and numbers of pike is to stay on them all season long. The simplest ways to do this is sticking to one or two bodies of water, finding areas where the fish spawn and tracking them out from these areas as the year moves along. You’re better off learning one piece of water in great detail rather than running around from lake to lake. If you remember nothing else about finding pike, remember that familiarity breeds success! The best fishermen are people who stick to a handful of water bodies and specialize in fishing them. They know the seasonal timing (usually the daily timing, too) the spots on the spots and have the best fishing methods distilled.



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Tips: How To Work Three Top Pike Baits


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.


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.


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


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.


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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