Pike are aggressive, which is unfortunate for them but fortunate
for fisherman. They lack judgement. Where a walleye would
look at a minnow from six sides before believing it is a minnow,
a northern will nail almost any glittering object that moves.
Even better, northerns keep bankers’ hours. You can sleep
in, get up, and find the northerns pigging out at midday.
My kind of fish. And, better yet, northerns go right on snarfing
up the poor forage species even after cold fronts that cause
so many fish to throw tantrums and go on hunger strikes. Finally,
and best of all, northerns keep right on filling their bellies
when hot weather arrives and other game fish become picky
eaters. For the most part, pike are associated with weeds.
They lie in ambush in weeds, then attack their prey with astonishing
speed. You cannot move a lure too fast for a northern to catch
it, either trolling or casting. In fact, a lure that zips
past a pike at extremely high speed is likely to trigger a
strike that a pokey lure might not. Summer pike fishing begins
when the weeds become fully established. In fact, the first
week or so after the weed growth becomes mature can offer
fantastic fishing. But the northerns go right on hanging around
the weeds for the rest of the summer. Sometimes they’ll be
just outside them.
Wherever the weeds stop, that is the magic depth. It will
be a certain depth that will remain constant throughout the
lake. That is, if the weeds end at 15 feet at one point, they
will probably end at 15 feet all over the lake. So if you
troll at a constant 15-foot depth, you’ll be presenting your
lure right in front of the deepest edge of the weeds. And
that’s exactly where summertime northerns like to hang out.
You’ll need a good depthfinder to keep your lure right where
it should be. Most of the time, the best action will be found
right along the bottom and very close to the weeds. Bottom
digging lures are needed and some patience as well. Bottom
digging lures offer flash, bulk and wobble to get those pike
out of the weeds. Weeds will collect on your lure and leader.
If you are not clearing your lure of weeds you are not fishing
where the fish are. The tackle required is a stiff rod, like
a Shimano Clarus Series rod that you might use for muskie.
The line should be a low stretch monofilament in about 12
to 17 lb. test, Berkley XT is good choice. I will also spool
this up on a Shimano Calcutta bait casting reel. The reason
that I use a baitcaster is it allows me more line capacity
and I can use a long handled rod to tuck under my arm while
speed trolling. Northerns slide deeper as water temperatures
warm. On cloudy days, they may be found feeding on shallow
flats. But, generally by mid-summer, they lurk down to 12
feet depths. As soon as water reaches 68- to 70 degrees, they
move down to 22- to 28-feet deep in some lakes. For shallow
work, concentrate on points, inside turns and bends. Narrow
the search to the ones with thicker, greener cabbage. Large
spoons, like Lindy’s Gator spoon work great when retrieved
right above the weeds.
||I cast jerkbaits or Giant Tandem Spins or shallow-lipped
Big Ms by Lindy Little Joe along weed edges and dropoffs.
I prefer shad, sucker and perch colors. Look for the sharpest
drops with the quickest access to deep water as things
heat up and fish move deeper. I'm looking for the secondary
break, the deep-water ledges that drop way off after that,
Speed trolling begins when the weeds “set up” in the early
summer, and continues to be productive throughout the
dog days of August until early fall. In most upper Midwest
lakes the very best time is somewhere around the mid part
of June. As I mentioned before the time of day is better
when most of the other fishing is poor. Once you’ve found
the depth you should be working at, the key is to play
around with different speeds until you get the right one
for a given day. Some days the fish will want it moving
almost at a brisk walking speed, other days they will
want it moving as fast as a water skier.
When walleyes slow down move to a different specie and look
for the weedbeds to produce some summertime pike in the weeds.
If you would like more information on fishing pike in the
weeds. Drop me a line on the web at www.walleye.info.
Hope to see you on the water soon!