Picture this: You step out of your cabin, mist slowly rising off the glass calm lake. A loon cries, hot coffee in one hand and your fishing rods in the other. You step in your boat and leave swath of shattered water behind as you smoothly arrive at your first spot. You come off step and watch the bow rise, then fall back toward the water surface. Your waves make their way toward the shore, breaking up the perfect reflection of trees, sky and rock with their distorting ripple. As the waves move away, they reveal the tips of a large weed bed in their troughs. This is the spot.
You pick up your rod and make that first cast. The popper bobs to a stop and the rings dissipate. You don’t move a muscle. The rings disappear and you violently rip the popper toward you. Then it happens, a giant northern pike engulfs your popper and leaves a hole in the water. You set the hook and the battle ensues and you hook a big one.
At Wilderness North, this scenario plays out everyday – literally! Fishing for pike with topwater poppers is an exciting adrenaline rush you wont soon forget. It’s actually addictive. So what do you do and what do you need to get started?
The proper rod for popper pike is very important! You’ll need a rod that has enough backbone to pull big pike out of the weeds, yet at the same time you need a rod that will allow you to effectively and accurately make long casts. 7 -7.5 foot medium heavy rod with a fast action tip will do the deal.
Drag is important here when choosing a reel for casting. Whether you like baitcasters or spinning reels a solid drag that will smoothly allow fish to make short but violent runs will lessen your chances of loosing old toothy.
Line choice in this situation is quite simple. Either choose braid 30 20 0r 30 lb or 15-17 lb fluorocarbon. The no/low stretch of these choices are a key element to be able to effectively set the hook on big pike.
Leaders for pike are important to prevent having big pike bite through your main line 1) you lose the fish and 2) you lose your popper. Yet you don’t want a leader that is too heavy to impede the action of your popper or bring it under water. Choose nylon coated steel leaders that are 20 lb test … also taking a page from the world of fly fishing, you can invest is a small spool of knot able titanium bite wire.
This is where the fun begins! Poppers can mimic things that pike eat in the natural world such as mice, muskrats, baby ducks, frogs etc or, you can choose poppers that are manufactured to create great disturbance such as a tubular walk the dog style popper. Generally poppers or any top water bait will move more water if they have a concave nose.
Fishing top water is just about as exciting a form of fishing you can get. It’s not for the feint of heart however as massive explosions have the ability to make you jump out of surprise. Give it a try the next time you target pike, you’ll be glad you did!