By Jeff Matura
Northern Pike provide fisherman a tough fight right up to the very end, and sometimes even more near the end once they see the fisherman's boat. From winter to fall pike are fairly easy to catch in lakes or rivers that have a good population.
In the winter time fishing pike through the ice is fairly common in the Midwest, especially the northern Midwest in states such as Minnesota, Dakotas, and Wisconsin. Fishing through the ice is typical done with tip ups and live bait. However frozen or dead bait will often work. Preferred baits are creek chubs, sucker minnows, and frozen smelt. Tips will hold the bait much like a bobber at depth set by the fisherman just like a bobber does in open water. A tip up utilizes a spool of heavy Dacron fishing line kept just under water to prevent freezing. When the pike grabs the bait it's free to pull more line from the spool. When the spool first start turn a flag will pop up to alert the fisherman a pike is running with the bait. Typical fisherman will wait for a few minutes and then reel the fish in hand over hand.
During ice out in the early spring is an especially good time to catch larger fish as the majority of fish will be in the shallow waters that are still cool. This makes fish readily accessible in rivers, river back waters, and shorelines of lakes. During this time period most anglers will cast large spoons, crank baits, or even fish live bait under a bobber. Which ever presentation you prefer many large pike are taken during the first month after ice out.
Sumner time pike fishing can be a little more challenging if only big pike are being pursued as they usually seek out cooler waters. In rivers this maybe springs or a cool water stream that enters the main river. In lakes this usually means deep water. Average size fish are easily caught during these warm water months in lakes simply by finding the thickest weed beds and trolling lures over the top of them. In line spinners and clothespin style spinners both work very well this time of year. Because pike are sight feeders sunny days are the best, along with bright colored lures.
Fall fishing for pike is much like early spring fishing. Once the waters have cooled down from the summer heat pike will typically be found once again in the same areas found during the spring. In line spinners, spoons, and crank baits slowly retrieved will all usually produce fish during this time period.
Good Luck fishing this season and always remember to fish safe.
Jeff Matura has been fishing during the open water season and through the ice for over twenty years in the Midwest including the Mississippi River for crappie, walleye, and bass.
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