by Bob Jensen
Across the Midwest, anglers have lots of fishing options. There are a good number of different fish species to catch, and there are a lot of different ways to catch the different species of fish. One species of fish that doesn’t get a lot of attention is the northern pike. Most anglers catch a lot of small pike by accident, but much of the time we don’t target them. If you would like to get in on some good pike action, following are some ideas to do so.
First of all you need to be on good pike water. Fortunately, there are quite a few places to catch pike. Some of those places have good numbers of mid-size pike, fewer have good numbers of the truly big ones. In the smaller rivers that criss-cross the Midwest a six or seven pound pike is a good one: In the larger, deeper lakes, thirty eight to forty inchers can be taken. You’ll need to determine your tackle and your expectations accordingly.
Keep in mind that pike are the first fish to spawn in most bodies of water. That means they’ll also be the first fish to really go on the bite after the spawn. They’ll seek out marshy areas to spread their eggs. After the spawn they move to deeper water close to their spawning grounds. This is where we’ll look for them in late spring and early summer.
There are a bunch of presentations that will trigger pike this time of year, but if you throw a spinnerbait or a suspending minnow type bait, you’ll have a good chance to get bit. If you’re fishing waters where the pike don’t grow as big, throw a quarter or three-eighth’s ounce Reed-Runner spinnerbait or a smaller Salmo Sting minnow bait. If you’re in a big pike neighborhood, use a Magnum Reed-Runner or the larger Salmo Sting. Both will take pike, you just need to find out if they’re showing a preference on that particular day.
In stained water it’s not unusual to feel the pike swipe at and miss your lure. When you feel this happen, keep reeling: The pike will come back. Bright colors, orange or chartreuse are good stained water colors.
A Flippin’ Rod teamed with braided line is great for throwing spinnerbaits, although you can get by with a lighter rod when you’re fishing the waters where smaller pike are most abundant. Choose appropriate line as well: Fifty pound test braid is about the minimum in big pike water.
Truly big pike are not so common in most waters. It’s important to put the mid-size to big ones back.
It’s also not a bad thing to keep a couple of the smaller ones. Filleted and prepared properly, they are excellent on the table. There are a good number of ways to prepare pike for the table or for snacking, and there are a good number of places to catch pike. Give them a shot and I’ll bet that once you experience some success with them, you’ll get after them more frequently.