There are few things more exciting than sight casting to giant cruising northern pike or hearing the clicker on your bait runner slowly ticking off – tick tick tick as a big fish swims away with your bait. Setting the hook and feeling immediate dead weight before the battle begins… felling the shear power of a big fish thrashing, head shakes, seemingly fighting for its life, bringing the fish boat side and allowing it to return to the deep. As Lee Wulff once said, “Game fish are too valuable to be caught only once” At Wilderness North, pike abound at every lodge and they can get very BIG!
Choosing the right gear to match northern pike in the north is vital to keep 1, you connected to the fish and 2, the fish as safe as possible. Coming to a pike fight under gunned has the possibility of being deadly for big fish as often it’s difficult for them to recover especially in warmer water seasons. So what do you bring.
If you’re casting for pike, and covering lots of water, or systematically casting to underwater structure, you want to make sure you have a casting combination of rod and reel that will allow you to be able to cast all day minimizing fatigue. Choosing a combo that is light yet durable enough to fight big fish is key. Big pike can stress a rod and reel combination so getting a little bit beefy is important. Medium heavy to heavy rods with a fast action will allow you to literally feel more connected to your lure, and ultimately the fish as the sensitivity is highly increased. If you’re proficient with a bait caster reel, then a larger reel that can hold heavier line is a must. If you’re using a spinning reel, a medium sized reel will suffice. Line choices can vary with pike, but for this combination, it’s recommended to use a line that is low to no stretch such as 100% fluorocarbon or braid. Big pike require heavy line so 15-20 lb fluoro and 30-65 lb braid is recommended. With pike, leader material is vital as their teeth are razor sharp and shear through line like a hot knife through butter. If you’re choosing to use a fluorocarbon leader, it’s recommended to use 80 lb, if you’re using a wire leader, 8-12 inches is recommended. You can also take a page from fly anglers and use a product famous in the pike fly fishing world. There exists a knot-able leader material that is flexible and small diameter for it’s test, it’s recommended 40 lb for pike.
Live Bait for Pike
Catching pike with live bait, can be likened to moments of boredom mixed with splashes of pandemonium. With live bait, reel selection is key. Baitcasters with a clicker allow fish to pick up the bait and swim away with little to no resistance on the bait. Conversely, a spinning reel known as a baitrunner, does the same thing, allowing the fish to swim away without detecting any pressure from the line. Engaging the reel and setting the hook is a satisfying as it gets.
Trolling for Pike.
Many anglers change up systems for trolling for big pike. A long softer tipped rod matched with a reel spooled with monofilament eases the harshness of the hit. Remember the fish generally hook themselves as the lure is constantly in motion. A softer rod and the stretch of the sinking monofilament buffers the shock of the hit and can result in increased success.
Fly Tackle for Pike
If you choose to target pike on fly, it’s recommended to bring a heavier stick to 1, be able to effectively cast larger flies and 2, be able to bring the fish to hand quickly for release. 9 or 10 weight rods matched with a large arbour reel and a variety of line choices will help you cover the water column. Carry spools of floating, sinking and intermediate lines to target fish in their comfort zone.. Leader is important to keep fish on and as mentioned above, 40 lb knotable titanium wire is the ticket.
Pike are great adversaries on rod and reel and put up a wonderful fight. Bringing a trophy northern boatside and watching them slowly sink back to the depths is what we all look forward to as anglers. At Wilderness North, all our lakes are teeming with pike and anglers have a real shot at boating a trophy…they are there and they are hungry! Go get em!