How to catch Northern Pike

Northern Pike are generally very easy to catch. They hit just about any lure. The trick is how to catch big Trophy Northern Pike. The first step is to know where they are.

Spring: In the spring, the Pike will be right along shore or in river current. Pike spawn in rivers, streams and in sandy areas along the shore. At this time of year, the weeds have not grown yet so you will find Pike of every size in the back of small protected bays and in very shallow water. You will also find them among last year's wild rice stocks. If there are patches of weed that survived the winter, you can cast into them but generally that is where the smaller pike will be. The big Pike like the shallow warmer water and in the spring you can sometimes see them sunning themselves.

Late Spring & Summer: The water is warming up and the weeds are starting to grow. This is a transition time when Pike do not hang around spawning areas anymore if food is scarce or the area had been taken over with thick choking weeds. Small Pike will move into the thick weeds in the back of bays. Medium size pike go to the back of bays but tent to stay around the outer edge of the weeds. This is a fine area for them as there are lots of bugs and minnows to eat and they also find protection from big Pike and Muskie.

The really big Pike move out to the points leading into bays. They will also move between islands, shoals or areas with current. The biggest reason for this is to feed on Walleyes. If you look at the diagram below, you will see how a big pike will have a territory. In a smaller bay, there may only be one big Pike. In a bigger bay, you may have two or three. The prime spots are at the points or the open water in the center of the bay.

Big Pike will also move into channels where there is current or if it's a place where Walleye migrate through. This enables the Pike to ambush Walleyes. Another hot spot is between small islands or channels between lakes.

Pike and Muskie: In lakes where there is a high Muskie population, big Pike tend to stay a little closer to shore or move back into remote areas of a lake that are not facing the large open body of the lake because that is prime Muskie territory. Muskie like quick access to the big parts of the lakes so Pike tent to move into the backs of islands and bays not facing the open lake.

Late Summer and Fall: Late summer and fall can be a strange time for pike fishing in a lake with no Muskie. In lakes where there are no Muskie, the Pike disappear into the depths of the lake. On Eagle Lake, the Pike stay fairly shallow so the Pike fishing is excellent even in the fall.

Lures: Traditionally the best lures and probably the most popular lures are the Red-&-White Daredevil and the Yellow 5-of-Diamonds Daredevil. You use the red in clear water and the yellow in murky water. Spinnerbaits, Crankbaits, Bucktails and Williams Weedless Spoons also work well. When using a Daredevil, try casting up high and just before the lure hits the water, jerk it towards you so the lure slaps the surface. This slap sound seems to trigger a better feeding response from bigger Pike.

Pike are also well known for hitting surface lures. Jitterbugs and Spooks are excellent for Pike. A growing trend in Pike fishing, which is getting very popular, is fly-fishing for Pike. With large Pike flies, you can drop the fly in an opening in the middle of thick weeds, which would not be practical for normal lures.

Prime Hotspots for Trophy Northern Pike:

  • Points leading into weedy bays
  • Along Wild Rice beds where there are lots of Walleyes
  • Stream or river mouth
  • In the thick cabbage weed or other big leaf weeds
  • Under lily Pads
  • Narrows between lakes or open water where Walleyes migrate
  • Drop offs close to thick shallow weeds
  • Deep Ridges
  • Shoals or rocky points where the bass and Walleye hang out is a good spot. If the Walleyes or bass stop feeding, it may mean a big Pike has started to feed. This is when you switch to something big and flashy.

    Muskie and Pike Casting Lures:
    Crank Baits
    Jerk Baits
    Spinner Baits
    Dardevle Spoons
    Large Mepps Bucktails
    Rattle Baits
    Jitter Bugs

    Pike and Muskie Trolling Lures:
    J-ll Jointed Rapalas
    J-13 Deeper Jointed Rapalas
    Ziggy Lures
    Willy Lures
    Wiley Lures
    Large Mepps Bucktails
    Lucky Strike Wooden Muskie Plugs
    Hedon Muskie Plugs

    Pike and Muskie Flies:
    Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny
    Dahlberg Diver
    Red & White Pike Fly