In late spring before the weeds grow thick and when the Walleye are finished spawning they start migrating up and down the river and through the lake looking for food. This is when the big Pike take up ambush positions. Large Northern Pike are ambush predators. They like to pick a spot where the feeding is good and stay there until chased out by a bigger Pike. As we said in our Walleye tips page, the Walleyes are constantly migrating between areas with current and will follow the shore going into bays to find minnows. The big Northern Pike will wait for them at the points leading into bays. The big Pike also hang around narrows where the Walleyes are migrating through or will hang around under-water ridges and attack from below. Keep casting lures into the areas.
Summer: In the summer the weeds have grown. In our area the primary weed cover is Lily Pads, Wild Rice, Spider Legs, Pickerel Grass and Muskie Cabbage. Small Pike hide in these weeds as well as minnows that the Walleyes are feeding on so big Pike will also hide in the weeds where they can ambush their prey. Casting weedless spoons like a Johnston Silver Minnow or a weedless Thompson spoon is effective.
Thick weeds are why flyfishing for Northern Pike is getting so popular. With a fly-rod you can drop a big Pike fly in little pockets of open water in the thick weeds, which is an area that's annoying to fish with a conventional lure. Barry Reynolds Pike Bunny, Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny, Mcmurderer and the Red & White Pike Fly are by far the most popular flies for Northern Pike.
If you don't like flyfishing then you need to lure the big Pike out of the weeds. There are two ways you can do this. First you can try surface lures which make lots of noise. Spooks and Jitterbugs or old floating plugs with spinners work great. It takes time to get a big Pike to finally come out of the weeds to see what all the commotion is about. If you cast too many times then the pike will not be interested or may get spooked. You need to wait 15 seconds or more between casts. When your surface lure hits the surface, try jerking it instead of reeling in to make it look like a wounded critter on the surface. A big Pike may look at your lure for a while before deciding to hit it.
A second way to get big Pike out of the weeds is lure slapping. If you cast out a pike spoon such as a DareDevle try to cast up high and then when your lure is about 6 feet above the water give it a sharp jerk so it slaps the water. Northern Pike love that slapping sound and it will trigger a response.
Northern Pike Gear:
Rods, Reels, Line: Medium to Medium Heavy 61/2' - 7' graphite rods. Bait casting reels to match rod weight and balance, 15-20lb mono or 30-50lb braid.Larger spinning reels such as the 4000 series Shimano spooled with 30lb braid are also very good. 20-40lb steel or titanium leaders are essential. 80lb fluorocarbon leaders are excellent as well.
Baits: Inline bucktail spinners such as Buchertails, 1/2-3/4oz spinnerbaits, Johnsons Silver Minnows, Doctor Spoons, Williams Wablers, Daredevls, Rapala Husky Jerks, 5" plastic swimbaits, 8" Reapers with appropriate jig heads.
Fly Fishing Gear for Northern Pike
Fly Rod - 8-9 wt. · Fly Reel - 7 - 10 wt. · Fly Line - Floating weight forward in 8 or 9 wt.
Leader - 20 - 30# single strand wire attached with haywire twist.
Flies - Barry Reynolds Pike Bunny, Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny, Mcmurderer, Red & White Pike Fly, Whitlock's Hare Water Pup, Whitlock's Hare Worm, Dahlberg Rabbit Strip Diver, Clouser Minnow, Lefty's Deceivers, Sizes 3/0 to 2.