Picture this. It’s dusk, and the sun is just about to dip below the horizon. The lake is glass calm and you notice the perfectly symmetrical mirror image of the shoreline reflected in the water. You cast your lure toward the shore. As it lands, the ripples briefly wave the reflected pine trees slowly calming back to glass. The first twitch of your topwater lure is the cue and the shoreline reflection immediately disappears in a shower of white water along with your lure. What was the perfect reflection is replaced by a hole in the water. Your heart skips a beat, adrenaline coursing through your veins as you set the hook into a 45-inch northern pike. True story repeated most nights at Wilderness North.
Fishing for pike on topwater is one of the more exciting ways to enjoy the sport. It’s fun, addicting and completely visual. It can be incredibly subtle or savagely violent. Regardless of how pike take a lure, once you set the hook on a giant on topwater, you just may find yourself daydreaming or craving taking a fish using this basic technique.
Rods – Rods used for topwater can get quite specific. Generally, you want a longer rod in the 7.5 or 8 foot range for casting distance. A medium heavy rod will suffice as will a solid spool of braided line. Pound test will depend on the topwater lure you’re throwing. Keep in mind, that if your line is too heavy, it can impede the natural movement of the lure. Plan on 30 – 50 lb test to cover most situations.
Lures – There are a litany of lures you can use to entice pike to eat. With all the choice, it’s best to narrow things down to profile shape, colour and how much water the lure will move. Shape should imitate natural food sources; colour generally opposite of the weather conditions. For example on sunny days, use dark coloured baits and on dull, cloudy, go bright for contrast. Pike like commotion. Remember they are generally the apex predators in the system and if there is something big and loud in its territory, generally they want it dead. Choose a lure that will make a lot of noise, push a lot of water and generally is obnoxious.
Wind – Wind is an important factor in fishing topwater for northern pike. Though pike are the biggest fish in the pond, wind can help and hurt you when targeting them on top. A little bit of wind is your friend as it often masks delivery of your bait, it minimizes the initial disturbance of the cast, which may have a spook factor to pike. No wind is a challenge for anglers as it literally shows the fish everything including lure characteristics, line hooks etc. Too much wind doesn’t allow your bait to work properly and could be difficult for pike to zone in.
Casting – When casting in calm water, it’s generally best to cast past your target – well past your target and work it back to where you think a pike may be. Remember, they are ambush predators and will lie in wait for an opportunistic meal.
Fishing topwater for pike is an adrenaline inducing rush of a technique with which to target northern pike. They are often aggressive and angry. Having a couple of topwater lures in your arsenal will allow for great excitement during your day on the water. Late in the day or first thing in the morning, there really isn’t anything quite like seeing a giant pike pursuing your topwater offering. Give it a try on your next trip!