Informational Guide

How To Fish For Pike

Learn how to catch pike of all varieties with our best pike fishing tips. Plan your next trip accordingly & start landing trophy pikes within no time.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

How To Fish For Pike

Learn how to catch pike of all varieties with our best pike fishing tips. Plan your next trip accordingly & start landing trophy pikes within no time.

by Andrew

by Andrew

If you enjoy fishing in freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams, then you’ve probably encountered a pike or two. Esox (also known as pike species) are aggressive apex predators, so in theory, they should be quite easy to catch.

Knowing some common locations and the right tackle will definitely help you learn how to catch pike of all varieties. Continue reading to learn the best pike fishing tips, and plan your next trip accordingly. 

Identifying Pike Varieties (What to Look For)

  • Chain Pickerel Pike
    From east Texas to northern Florida, you can find chain pickerel pike by the dozen. It’s recognizable by its long, broad, and rounded snout, and it has a lower jaw that extends further than the upper jaw. The chain-like pattern is dark compared to the Pikes' yellow or green body.
  • Redfin Pickerel Pike
    The redfin pickerel pike closely resembles a chain pickerel pike, but they are smaller, wider in size, and often have distinguishable red-tinted fins. Their body will vary from olive green to dark brown, and they have a silvery-green stripe from the tip of the snout to the base of the caudal fin.
  • Grass Pickerel Pike
    This species of pike rarely grows to be more than 300mm in length, so expect your grass pickerel pike to be small. They have a flattened body shape and a forked caudal fin. They vary in color, but most are greenish-brown with a brown stripe running down the length of their spines.
  • Northern Pike
    Expect your northern pike catch to be an olive green color. They tend to fade into a yellow or white along the stomach area. There are typically short, light bar-like spots on the flank and some dark spotting on the fins.
  • Muskellunge Pike
    Muskies (muskellunge) and a member of the pike family. They closely resemble a northern pike in color and length, yet you can distinguish between the two by examining the head.  Muskellunge have six or more pores on the underside of their jaws, whereas northern pike has five or fewer pores and entirely scaled cheeks. Their tails are different as well as muskie tails have a deeper fork, and northern pike tails are more rounded off.
  • Tiger Muskellunge Pike
    This breed of pike is a hybrid of a muskellunge pike and a northern pike. They tend to have irregular strips like a musky and dark spotting like on the northern pike. As for the primary color, they are olive green all over, and they have more of a rounded tail like the northern pike.

What Gear Do I Need for Pike Fishing? (Must Have Tackle & Setup)

Rods and reels

When you're looking for the best fishing rod for pike, it’s best to go for a rod that’s 7.5 to 9 feet in length. The action should be fast, and the power can be medium to medium-heavy. As for your preferred reel, make sure it’s well balanced with the rod while retaining its strength. A good quality carbon spinning rod and reel is a solid choice for novice anglers.

Fishing lures/baits

Pike can be caught using all manner of different tactics, yet the three main tactics are dead baits, live baits, and lures.

  • Dead baits work well in the winter months when the water temperature is cold, and the pikes' metabolism is slow. Stick a dead roach or eel on your hook to get good results.
  • Live bait fishing is great in Autumn and Fall. The movement of suckers and shad will certainly get a pike's attention.
  • Lures are a much more active approach and will work well in the summer months when a pike will chase it. Keep the lure between 15-50 grams, so you get the best casting distance.

Line, Hooks, and sinkers

The best line you can use when pike fishing is braided lines. As pike’s teeth are incredibly sharp, the chances of a braided line snapping are well reduced compared to many monofilament and fluorocarbon lines. As for hooks, we recommend setting up a treble hook on sizes 1/0, 2/0, and 3/0. For a sinker, a good quality split shot sinker will do the trick as they are perfect for situations when you need to add a little extra weight.

Tackle storage

We added a portable tackle storage kit to the list as too many anglers lose their good gear from dropping them into the water. Don’t let your fishing trip get cut short by losing your pike tackle before you even get a bite. Check out some of the tackle boxes on our guide before taking a trip pike fishing.

What Gear Do I Need For Pike Fishing

What Is The Best Way To Catch Pike (6 Pike Fishing Tips For Beginners)

  • 1. Find The Grass
    Pikes love to stay around aquatic vegetation, so be sure to cast your line into shallow waters with grass and in weedy confines. If you find a bay or a flatbed of water, then you have a good chance of finding a northern pike.
  • 2. Cover A Lot Of Water
    As we have mentioned, pike are aggressive, so if you’re in an area where you're not getting any bites, then troll a new section of water and keep your lure/bait moving. They like to load up in certain spots, so pay attention and revisit areas you’ve caught them in before.
  • 3. Use Bright Colors
    Pike fish are attracted to bright and colorful lures, so add a high-visibility color like white, bright orange, or chartreuse lure onto your line to help you get their attention.
  • 4. Don’t Be Afraid To Upsize Your Lures
    By using bigger baits and lures, you’ll get the attention of pike species that are further away. They’re notorious for having "eyes bigger than their stomachs." We recommend choosing bigger lures that don’t exceed 50 grams as then it will jeopardize your casting distance.
  • 5. Use The Right Tackle
    Pikes are the largest freshwater predators, so it’s very important to have the right tackle for the job. Follow our guide above so you have the right line, rod, and reel for pike fishing. Otherwise, you risk snapping your current rod in two.
  • 6. Add A Leader To Your Line
    Pikes have razor-sharp teeth, so adding a steel or fluorocarbon leader to your setup is crucial (especially in lakes with larger pike species). A good quality leader will save you money from losing your baits and lures when fishing for large and vicious pikes. 

Bonus: Seasonal Pike Fishing Tips

  • Pike Summer Fishing
    When fishing for pike in the summer months, you’re most likely going to find them in weed beds and grass as the vegetation shields them from the hot sun. Larger pike species will move towards deeper waters as it’s cooler there. They also like to intercept traveling schools of smaller fish species for food in these deeper areas, giving you a better chance for a bite.
  • Pike Winter Fishing
    In the cold water of winter, pike’s digestive process is a lot slower, so they feed once a week or even less if conditions are very bad. Due to this, we recommend casting dead or alive baits around inlets, gravel bars, or under-hanging trees to get small pike species attention. If you’re fishing from a charter for trophy pikes in winter, focus on bodies of water that are 6-12 ft deep. You’ll have a good chance at finding a shoal of pikes at this depth.
  • Pike Spring Fishing
    Springtime is considered to be the best time for pike fishing as this is the pre and post-spawning period. They spawn when water temperatures get into the mid-40ºF range. Targeting pikes into bays or at connected sloughs are ideal. You may also find pike species at structures like channel edges, points, or around old weeds.
  • Pike Fall Fishing
    Once the weather begins to cool down after hot summer months, a lot of vegetation begins to decay, so pikes search out the remaining green weeds in the lake that’s alive. This is typically in waterways that are 4 to 8 feet deep. You can find a large number of pikes in a relatively small area in the fall months, so your odds of catching them improve greatly.

What Are the Best Places for Trophy Pike Fishing? (Monster Pike)

1. Catching trophy pikes in Canada

Canada pike fishing is perfect if you want to get your hands on a trophy pike. Reindeer Lake in Saskatchewan is a hotspot for pike anglers as there are a ton of shallow, weedy places for pikes to hide. You can also find trophy-sized catches in Nejanilini Lake, Silsby Lake, and Duck Bay Lodge in Ontario.

2. Catching trophy pikes in Colorado

Catch northern pikes well over 40 inches at one of many Colorado big, blue lakes. Navajo, Eleven Mile, William's Fork, and Stagecoach are all great spots for finding large and small pike species depending on the time of the year. The peak pike fishing season for trophies is in May, June, September, and October. You can find a ton of smaller pike species in July and August.

3. Catching trophy in Michigan

Cast your line into the lower sections of St. Clair river, or go deeper into Van Etten Lake to find a range of pickerel pike species. There’s a lot of water in Michigan that boasts some great pike habitats, so you can go fishing all year round. For trophy-sized pikes, we recommend focusing on the big waterways connected to the Great Lakes.

Pike Fishing Tips

People also Ask (FAQs)

How do you hook live and dead fish baits for pike fishing?

When hooking dead fish bait, be sure to hook them at the center of the head, so they give the illusion that the bait is swimming underwater. If you’re using small fish for live bait, it’s best to pierce the hook through the top lip. Avoid piercing the bottom lip as it will stop the fish from breathing and moving around.

Are Northern pike hard to catch?

Northern pikes can grow to be very large, and they’re aggressive during a catch. That being said, getting a bite isn’t difficult as they chase and bite at almost anything smaller than them. Just be ready for a good tug and war match if you’re against a northern pike.

Is pike good to eat?

Pike fishes are incredibly tasty and full of flavor. It's one of the many reasons why pike angling has become so popular over the years.

What are some fly fishing tips for Northern pike?

Just like any fly fishing adventure, you’ll need the right fly line, reel, and rod to match the strength of a pike fish. Our top tip for fly fishing is to practice the Belgian or oval cast, so it keeps the fly moving without any sudden changes in the direction.


Conclusion

Pike species are one of the most exciting gamefish to catch, and heading to the water for spring pike fishing is as good as it gets. We hope our tips and recommended locations will help you in your hunt for a whopper trophy catch.

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