Late Summer Pike

A small lake and aggressive northern pike make for some fantastic fishing 

 

Northern Minnesota boasts a multitude of small lakes, and in nearly all of them the northern pike is top predator.  Each lake has different growth rates and size structure for these fish, depending on occasional winterkills, forage base and fishing pressure.  Some lakes are full of little "hammer handles", stunted pike that rarely reach three pounds.  Others harbor only a small population of very large fish, often resulting from a forage base including ciscos.  And then, some of these little lakes have a good mix of size structures.  Whatever the case, if you can drag a canoe or small boat into one of these lakes you will have a good chace at catching a lot of hard-fighting pike.

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Where you find the pike in these lakes will depend on the season.  Generally, before the aquatic vegetation grows very thick in Springtime  the Pike will be found on shallow flats and any woody cover available.  Summertime finds them deeper, off deep cabbage edges.  Fall will bring them back shallow as the water cools and frogs become available as forage.

 

 

 

 

This past weekend, the pike were caught between Summer and Fall patterns and were found up in the weeds as well as off the break into deep water.  Spoons and bucktails cast out into deep water and allowed to sink before retrieving worked very well for those fish that hung off deep weedlines.  Trolling also produced.  For fish in the weeds, buzzbaits and weedless rubber frogs were sometimes met with savage topwater strikes.  The pike were definitely on the feed.

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 My father and I fished through a foggy morning and landed around 20 pike from 2-7 pounds.  Many fish would streak up to the lure as it approached the boat and attack at close range.  In the crystal-clear water, watching these fish attack is incredible.  We tossed large baits around deep weedlines extending into 19 feet of water, a known big-pike haunt, but caught no real big fish.  Still, the action was fast and with a 3-6 pound average each fish battled hard.

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Later in the day, once the fog burned off, Corey, Dave and I found more pike success.  Corey caught a few nice fish on his ultralite, tossing a jig around schools of shiners that he spotted.  Reeling in a small pike, a larger fish attacked it on a shallow flat.  Corey tossed out a Rapala and hooked the bigger fish immediately.  Dave caught some fish on a green and silver spoon painted like an alien.  I found success with a Buchertail fished deep, and a couple of nice pike destroyed my Weed Demon up in the weeds.  

 

 The sheer agressiveness of the northern pike makes them a great angling target.  In these small Northwoods lakes, the high populations make for fast action even if you don't break the double digits in weight.  True gators of 20 pounds and over DO exist in many lakes as well, so be prepared at all times.  

Well, that's it.  Thought I'd share some recent thoughts and experiences with one of my favorite species, the northern pike.  Many Roughfishers overlook this "glamorous" sport fish, but they're actually pretty rough....... 

 

~Andrew Geving, Roughfisher-at-Large 

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 September 2009 )

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