Archive for the ‘Northern Pike Fishing’ Category

New Tour Announced for ’09: Hunt for the Wolf

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

On one of the fishing forums that I visit, one of the members brought this new Pike tour to everyone’s attention.  The Premier Pike Tour has announced its’ dates for 2009.  Search the site if you are interested, it sounds like a lot of fun, and the cost for entering is only $100 bucks.  Good chance I will be getting in on the Devil’s Lake Tourney off of 223, sounds like the Triton was made for this lake.

As I started today,  will be continuing the blogs on pike fishing (and muskie, too) new lakes and what to look for.

Attacking a New Lake Pike and Muskie

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

New Lakes


One of the best things to do when trying a new lake for the first time is to get a paper map and study its contours for possible areas for big pike and muskie.  You don’t  really have to switch gear to fish for both at the same time.  Pike will attack anything and almost all the time, while muskie do not necessarily need a 10 or 24 inch bait to get them to bite.

Next best way to get to know a lake is to troll around, get your lines wet and watch your fishfinder for quick changes in the lake bottom.  If your boat is equipped with GPS or you have a handheld device, start marking potential spots to come back to and cast.  If you have neither, pick up some bouys to drop down, don’t want to spend money, or a lot of it, tie up some milk jugs with a 4 oz lead weight,  if its windy double it up to an 8 oz.

Catching a Tiger, Ski that is

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

Going to try and sneak in topics when I can this month, it just got a bit busier around here.  So, this is about something I really enjoy doing, spending time with my father, and of course fishing.

While we were recently up north at the cabin, we went chasing toothy critters.  I love to go pike and muskie fishing, it goes back to when I was a kid, when the “old” guys would leave camp and come back with 40 inch Northerns from Lake Michigan’s Big Bay de Noc.  I still enjoy the taste of pike to this day, but the ski’s get returned to the water.

In this case, we had trolled around the lake checking out drop-offs and points, shorelines and pads, stumps and flats…you get the idea.  We settled on this small bay around 8 or 9 foot in depth near an outlet stream.  I put on a small Mepps Musky Killer for dad and started to get my Premier rod rigged with a hairpin style muskie spinner.  First cast and he starts rubbing it in, and somehow that quarter as a kid for first fish, became 10 bucks!!!  I blame Granholm and inflation  

Anyhoo, what came back to the boat was the is beautifully colored Tiger Muskie.  So I tell dad to hold it up so I can get a picture, course he starts off by holding it belly forward so I all I have is a white streak.  Even though this fish was only 30 inches, the greens were almost emerald in its markings.  Just a work of art.

Tiger Muskie


Just for those who haven’t heard of a Tiger Muskie before, it is a cross breed between Northern Pike and Muskie.  Usually done in a hatchery, but it does rarely occur in the wild.  The reason why it is so rare is that the breeding habits and requirements are different between the species.

A New Pike Tactic

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

One of the things I like about heading North is try out new things for chasing Pike and Muskie.  This year I concentrated a lot on plastics.  I worked swimbaits, large twister tails with lead head jigs and gave the standard Slug-Go a try.  No luck on the slugs, did ok on the large 8 inch chartruse/glitter twister tail, but think I struck gold on this brown swimbait.  Had several bites, replaced some tails, and glued some more back together.

While you retrieve spinnerbaits at all speeds depending on the mood of the fish, it had already begun to cool off in the UP while I was there, with one night clicking in at 39 degrees, prime feeding time.  I tried it fast, I tried it as a jerkbait, and the slow constant action of the paddle tail coming back to the boat worked the best.  Not sure what it was about this color versus the chartruse and blue shiner version, but think it closely resembled it’s most common prey, the suckers in the area.

The first pic is while fighting the fish, and trying to balance the camera.  Its a one man job in the rowboat on the lake.  The second pic is of the fish finally tuckered out, and a decent shot of the baits tail.

Northern on Swimbait


Paddletail Swimbait



Salmon Tackle for Pike Fishing?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

One thing for sure is, I will never claim an idea when it wasn’t mine, so Chris this is for you.

Several years ago I was working with this kid whose family had a cabin in Canada.  The lake they were on was fairly weedy and he had a unique idea on how to troll for Northerns that I had never heard of before.  By using trolling spoons sold for salmon fishing, he could avoid the tangles of the weeds below.  Otherwise known in many circles as the infamous “Weed Pike”.

If you have seen the spoons up close, you will notice right away that these blanks are not  your daddy’s Little Cleo or Daredevle.  They are extremely light in weight, and will stay up in the water column.  Specially at the higher speeds used for pike and muskie, usually 2.5+ mph.

What this does, is allow for trolling over lakes with really good weedbeds, which will hold these toothy critters while they lay in wait to ambush unexpecting baitfish and whatever else seems to be swimming by. Mostly ducklings, rats and snakes.  Which leaves the spoons in a unique position to handle this type of bite, not only are they below the surface, but after experimenting with this technique since I was introduced to it, because the spoons stay up, they will attract pike who want to feed on the surface in the evenings.  Many of these spoons have glow finishes, not found in normal pike gear so it offers an extra edge to the angler.

Next time you find your self targeting the water wolf,  pick up a few salmon spoons and give them a try,  you don’t need a diver, and you can even pull out your walleye boards if the lake is big enough to allow for wide sweeping turns.

Favorite Pike Tactics

Friday, July 25th, 2008

 One of my favorite ways to land pike is with the use of a spinnerbait.  Like many other types of baits that are effective, a spinnerbait can be fished in a variety of ways.  Fast, slow, shallow and deep.

Fishing for Pike

Most anglers fish from the drop-offs into the shallows and then retrieve their lures back out to the boat over the deeper water.  A very productive method is to reverse your position when casting.  I picked this up from an In-Fisherman video on muskie tactics yrs ago, and has proven itself many times since then.  Navigate the shallow water edges of an inland lake.  Cast out into the deep, let the spinnerbait sink, give the rod tip a sharp jerk to straighten the bait out, and begin your retrieve.  Often you will get pike that are in the cooler thermoclines to come up and chase your bait.

I love the thrill of a flag going up

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007


I am trying to balance the whole packing thing, getting the trailer, truck and quad ready to roll, and still finding some time to make a few posts this week.  Making my lists and checking them twice, thrice.  Its snowing outside right now, torn between going out and drilling holes in the ice, or calling the girlfriend up to come over, throw her in the snow and start making snow angels.  Since I think she’s working, drilling sounds like the logical thing to do, but the ice isn’t thick enough locally,  this is it for the day.

There is just something about fishing with tip-ups that gets the heart racing and blood pumping.  You set the tip up, you go and get others ready or you start jigging in another location.  The flag goes up, and you can’t help but run over there.  Then pull the tip-up out of the hole and grab the line.  Feel the weight on the line and you feel the fish on the other end.  You give a little, while she takes a run.  Then give just a short jerk for a hookset, before the fish spits out the bait.

Once hooked, start pulling the line in.  This is the anticipation part,  what is it, how big will it be,  just all kinds of questions running through your mind. Then you see the head, and the critical part of the whole process is getting it started up the hole without snagging on the edges.  Once you have it in the hole, two things will happen.  Either it will twist and turn and try to go back down, or the tail will start into overdrive and the fish will come shooting out the hole and onto the ice.

Before I take off for Minnesota, I will get in a few posts on types of tip ups and how to rig them for pike and walleye.

Fall Esox Strategies

Sunday, October 14th, 2007

Cool weather, we need some more of it!  Hunters crave it as one of the factors to triggering the rut during dear season, when the bucks loose all sense,  and only have lust on their minds.  The same colder weather can be calling to the pike and muskie angler.  While its not THAT primal urge that turns on these fish, none the less,  hunger and the outlook of a long cold winter make the members of the esox family extremely active.

Recently I had a long talk with a good friend of mine in Minnesota.  He has a couple of long deserved days off coming up starting tomorrow.  Minnesota is famed for its muskie fishing, and the conversation centered on fall strategies for landing these monsters.

All lakes are different and the make-up of its structure is critical in determining how you plan to locate and land a muskie.  What can be said of the ski, more often than not, can be applied to the northern.  Apply these fall characteristics of the fish to the lake  you are on, and there is a good chance you will be able to hook up.

Colder weather means that the fish will come up in the water column.  Notice I didn’t say the fish would be shallow.  Although true during mid-day while sunning themselves,  this idea just doesn’t apply to shallow water.  Fish can be running shallow in 40 foot of water during the fall, being only 10 ft below the surface.

Morning bites can find pike and muskie roaming (patrolling shallow) the shallow flats and edges in a lake’s coastline.  They are looking for larger minnows and panfish before they head off to the safety of the weedbeds for the day.  Work some of the jerkbaits,  and topwaters to locate these critters.

Mid-morning, the big fish can be found on the weed edges, either on the shallow or deep side.  Waiting to ambush,  they lurk within the beds.  Spinnerbaits, cranks and jerks are good choies.

Noon, the fish could be anywhere.  In the shallows perhaps sunning themselves and taking advantage of the sun’s warming rays.  Over deep water doing the same thing, from five foot to the surface.  Suspended over a sunken hump or flat.  A good map before you begin fishing will help you key in on good areas to target.  A wounded looking bait can be the ticket here.  Cranks and jerks would be the first method to try.  Also, a fast moving spinner could make them strike out of sheer annoyance.

As the day progresses, reverse these keys.  As night approaches you will find yourself doing the same things as you did in the early morning.  An early night bite, although you will catch pike, is often more productive when targeting muskie.

Trolling will either be your main method or serve as a time to take a break from casting.  Use the same areas as  you would be casting in,  work the edges and breaks.  Go over those humps and the outer areas of the flats.  A bait moving at three and four, perhaps five miles an hour is more than enough to trigger these fish into a strike.  You do not have to tone it down too much for northerns, but starting out at 2, 3 and 4 mph can be more productive.

Esox Trolling Rods

Friday, October 12th, 2007

To a lesser degree with pike, but definitely when it comes to muskie fishing,  if you cast all day, your shoulders are going to get tired!  On the inland lakes thats trolling time, time for a sandwich and beverage once you get rigged up and on your way.  Besides its kind of like a good luck charm, you know once you pop the top, or bite into that corn beef, with swiss on rye,  something is always bound to happen.

On the big water, trolling can be the favorite tactic to catch these predators.  Attention to equipment and detail becomes a little more precise.  You might want to break out the boards, or run them off the mast.

My pike trolling rods are the same rods I use for walleye, and because the St Croix Premier Glass series rods have the backbone .  I have two pairs of them, two per side of the boat.  You can go more, but with the 17′ boat, even with three people fishing, its more than enough to keep you busy.  If I am running some of my smaller muskie baits, then I will switch over to the muskie set ups.  The reels that go the Croixs  are the Daiwa SG 27 LCA’s, spooled with 40 lb Power Pro.

My muskie trolling rods are basically one brand, one length with only a slight variation in action.  All are Ugly Stik, Tiger blanks.  There are two versions, and would reccomend getting the ones with the stainless steel eyelets.  That way if you want to run wire its fine, but in this case each rod/reel set up has 80 lb Power Pro.  All the rods are 7 footers, two rated for 20 to 50 lb test, the other two rated from 30 to 60 lb test.  They will take a six and 8 oz lure respectively.  They normally run less than $65 dollars.  If that is a little steep and you are just starting out, then I suggest going with with a Daiwa Heartland dipsey rod.  You can choose between an 9′ or 10’6″.  A bit long for some, but plenty of strength in the rear end, for about $35.00.

Esox Rods (casting)

Thursday, October 11th, 2007

First of all lets tackle the rods that you can get for fishing for Northerns.  Some of my favorite rods are actually what Cabela’s has in their Muskie lineup.  These are under the Fish Eagle II label.   Really they are undersized for muskies,  except the 7’6″ rod.  I use that rod for both, when tossing spoons and bucktails.  Some of the rods I use for pike are the bigger bass rods from St Croix.  For crankbaits they make a medium heavy in the glass crank series that is a nice fit.  I also use a 7’6″ med heavy, and a 7’6″ extra heavy.  Nothing wrong with rippin’ toothy lips.

Muskie rods, specially mine are selected for the type of fishing I m doing.  My 6′ heavy rod is for topwater, and jigs.  The 6’9″ heavy is for jerkbaits and heavy cranks.  The 7′ med heavy is for medium sized cranks.  The 7’6″ like I mentioned above is used with spoons and bucktails/spinnerbaits.  Its has a quick snap at the tip and really launches those types of baits.  Loomis used to have a nice selection of muskie rods, but I think they have downsized their product line.  Its hard to beat St Croix for the types and lengths of rods that they have available to choose from.  The Premier series has the most, and you get the basic rods in the Avid series with a better blank.