Whether you are an experienced fisherman or just starting out, learning how to catch Northern Pike can be both a fun and rewarding experience. Famed for their aggressiveness and impressive size, Northern Pike are an extremely popular species for sports fisherman the world over. They also taste ok if you want to eat them as well.
So, with that welcome to my 5 tips for catching Northern Pike this year as we see what we can come up with to assist you in getting them onto the hook and into the net…
What are Northern Pike?
As above, Northern Pike are an aggressive, carnivorous freshwater gamefish found in lakes and river systems right across the northern hemisphere. Also referred to as Northern, Great Northern Pike, Jack or just Pike, they are the second largest member of the Pike family and live predominately in shallow, slow moving lakes and rivers where there is generally a lot of structure such as weed (they love weed) and fallen logs etc.
The have long, torpedo shaped bodies that are most often olive green with shading from yellow to white along the belly. Their flanks are dotted with yellow or white bean-shaped spots or short bars with round fins and with flat snouts that are almost alligator like in appearance with razor sharp teeth.
Tips for catching Northern Pike
Ok, so let’s get into some of my tips for catching Northern Pike below…
1. Choose the right spot
Now this first tip is obviously one that is relevant for all fish however when it comes to Northern Pike, it is pertinent for one major reason – they don’t move around a lot. This means that unlike other species, the chances of you leaving your bait in the water and waiting for a nice big Pike to swim by are minimal at best.
All is not lost however as Northern Pike love underwater vegetation such as weed or sea grass. So if you can find a decent bed in shallowish water (around 2 to 15ft), there is a good chance that you will be on the money. If no weed or grass is evident – and you know there are Pike there – then a good rocky point or tree log structure may work too.
2. Move around
As we mentioned above, Northern Pike like to congregate in vegetation beds in lakes and streams and even though they hit aggressively, do not tend to move around too much. So if you find a good spot (so you thought) and there is nothing happening, then it is up to you to move around.
You can of course try a different bait or lure behavior but if still nothing then move somewhere else – maybe trolling through other weed beds on the way. Again speak to the locals as they can generally tell you where the fish will be at certain times of the year and where to go if they are not in the spot you thought they would be.
3. Use the right colors
When it comes to bait and lures, it is always best to match what is found within the local waterways that Northern Pike share. However, if you plan to use a lure, then it will need to stand out to the fish as you ‘jig’ or jerk it though the weed bed. In my research, the best colors to match the natural baits for Northern Pike include:
I have however also seen evidence of success with reds, blues and yellows as well. And whilst we are discussing lures, keep in mind that you will be dragging them through vegetation so look for long and slender options such as hard jigs, popper or spoons that will not gather too much weed along the way.
Check out these: Lures For Northern Pike
4. Use a leader
This one is simple – Northern Pike have big teeth! So unless you want them to bite straight through the line when using live bait, then a good thin stainless steel or titanium leader will assist here.
This may not be as prevalent with a larger, longer lure but if you are finding that you are losing your gear, then you might want to attach one here too.
5. Don’t underestimate their size
And finally, again as we have mentioned above, Northern Pike can grow to be very large. Trust me there is nothing worse than getting a good fish on the hook and losing it due to insufficient gear. As always, there is a fine line between having gear big enough to land a monster fish but small enough to work a lure etc. effectively.
My advice is then to stick to the following:
- Reel – 3000 – 6000
- Rod – 7 to 8ft feet long and moderate or medium-heavy in action
- Braid or mono will work as long as it is around the 10 – 20lb mark.
So there you have it, my 5 Northern Pike fishing tips for those looking to get amongst them this year. As always, these are not going to guarantee you a catch, however they should give you a little more chance of success that you may not have otherwise had.
Have you tried anything else that has worked well, or not so well for you – or of course have a different opinion than above? If so, please comment below and we can have a chat.