Northern Pike are a carnivorous species and will consume large amounts of food each day. Their diet is predominately fish although they will take other foods such as water foul and frogs if the opportunity arises. Northern Pike have a long, thin body which is designed for maximum bursts of speed over a short distance and a green coloration which make them a perfect ambush predator as they sit amongst vegetation waiting for an unsuspecting food item to swim by close enough for them to strike. This makes swimbait especially attractive to pike when pike fishing. Pike also possess a flattened snout that is full of razor-sharp teeth so once a pike has grabbed its meal there is little chance of escape. As well as ambushing its prey, pike will also go on the hunt for food, looking for an easy meal such as a dead or dying fish.
It is very important to use some sort of wire leader when targeting pike as the razor sharp teeth they possess will easily bite through standard monofilament or braid. Although live baiting with small live fish such as shiners or minnow is very successful, many anglers enjoy targeting this species with lures as more water can be covered.
Before venturing out on the hunt for pike, the angler needs to ensure that the tackle that is to be used is suitable to handle this hard fighting, freshwater species. Rods with a medium-heavy action, such as the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo, will be ideal for targeting pike as they will handle the largest of fish and can cast out heavier lures. Ideal spinning reels will be somewhere around the 3000 size and should be loaded with either a good quality braid or monofilament. Don’t forget to use wire fishing leaders. Other important items of tackle to carry are a suitable landing net, longnose forceps or pliers, an unhooking mat and a pair of armoured gloves which will protect the angler’s hands from the razor sharp teeth when un-hooking the fish.
It is a good idea to always carry a good range of soft lures, spinner baits, crank and jerk baits plus spoons when targeting pike as a simple change of lure can result in bites when the fishing is slow. Some recommended lures for pike fishing that have proven successful are the Storm Wildeye Live Pike, the Kingforest Spinnerbait, the 6” Storm Super Fluke, the Rapala Super Shad, the Bill Lewis Original Rat-L-Trap and the Dardevle Spoon.
It is early morning and the sun is just rising as you stop your boat several yards away from a large bed of weeds and lower the anchors. Pike are the perfect ambush predator that lie in wait for a passing meal so looking for them around cover such as weeds is the ideal place to target them.
You pick up the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Combo which you have decided to use along with the Kingforest spinnerbait which you clip to the end of the wire leader. You cast out maybe a foot or so away from the weeds and start retrieving the spinnerbait. As you retrieve, you can clearly feel the blade rotating as the lure makes its way through the water. Nothing on that cast so out it goes again. After several casts without joy, it is time to move further along and try again. Up comes the anchor and you move the boat a further fifteen yards or so. Once the anchor is back down, you cast along a new section of weeds.
As you retrieve the spinnerbait, your rod suddenly pulls round as a fish hits the lure with aggression. Line is immediately being taken from your reel as the fish tries its best to get back into the weeds. You apply pressure because if the fish manages to get into the weeds you know it is more than likely going to escape. You turn the fish and it rolls on the surface with the unmistakable markings of a northern pike clearly visible. It feels like a good fish as it goes on another run, trying again to take line and get into the sanctuary of the rushes. You manage to stop it again and this time it leaps clear of the water, shaking its head, trying to throw the hooks. It fails in the mission and as it lands back in the water, you can feel the fish tiring.
As you get it towards the boat, you reach for the landing net in preparation for netting it and lifting it aboard. The head is now up and you can see the spinnerbait securely hooked in the corner of the mouth. The pike gives a couple of kicks from the tail but it is now well beaten. You slide it over the net and carefully lift it out and place it on the unhooking mat. You slip on your armoured gloves and place your fingers under the fish’s gill plates and slide them down into the V shape of the lower jaw. The pike’s mouth opens and you are able to remove the hooks easily with your longnose forceps.
You carefully place the fish into the weigh sling and attach this to the scales. As you lift, you carefully watch the dial rotate around to read 19lb 5oz. Not quite a twenty pounder, but a very good catch none the less. You hold the fish carefully in the water for a minute or two to recover until a good kick from the tail indicates it has recovered and is ready to swim back out. The fish swims away unharmed and you decide to move further up the weeds and try again.
It turns out to be a good session, you end up with five pike although the first fish of the day proved to be the largest at 19lb 5oz. Two more came on the spinnerbait, with one being taken on a Rapala Super Shad and another on a Storm Super Fluke. You head home happy, with thoughts of the next trip already creeping into your mind.