Pike also known as northern pike, are predatory fish, specific to the northern hemisphere, widespread in Canada and upper Midwest of the USA, all over Europe and Russia.
When it comes to its habitat, pike can be caught in clear fresh waters, beginning with tumultuous rocky waters, to sluggish water streams with plenty of vegetation. They can also be caught in the waters with low salinity, usually in estuaries or in the brackish waters of the Baltic Sea.
Pike are ambush predators distinctive through their ability to remain still for long periods of time, waiting for their prey to come nearby. Pike fishing is quite exciting, they have a powerful strike, they are hard fighting fish and whenever you catch one, you should expect at least a few aerial acrobatics.
Where to Catch Pike
Pike are cannibalistic, therefore the small ones usually take shelter in places with a lot of vegetation, between rocks, near submerged trees or shrubs. Many times they can be seen holding completely still, just under the surface of the water. Needless to say, when you see one, cast your lure in its direction.
Once they reach a certain size, their hunting habits change. They begin to roam slowly, usually in deeper waters, covering wider territories. However, this does not mean that in places with vegetation, you can catch only smaller ones. The big pike often visit these places to feed on the smaller ones. Due to this fact, trolling can bring better results when fishing for pike.
In mountain rocky streams it’s best to look for pike in places with deep water, where the course gets sluggish, or near small waterfalls. Plenty of vegetation and trees on the riverbank is a plus.
On lakes you should look for pike where aquatic plants like hornwort reach the surface, or in places where water is partially covered with water lilies. Cattail (or bulrush) or common reed on the lake shore is also a plus, sometimes pike hide among their roots.
Pike Fishing Techniques
Pike is responsive to many types of fishing, can be caught on lures of various kinds (jigging, popping, spooning), wobbling dead bait or even on stationary dead bait. Fly fishing for pike, especially in rivers is also popular. Also, pike (especially premium pike) can be caught by trolling.
Pike have quite a distinctive way of catching their prey. They bite it sideways with the teeth in the corner of their mouth, then quickly turn its head first, swallowing it, somewhat like aquatic birds. Due to this fact, when a pike gets the lure, it can typically be described like two consecutive, quick and powerful strikes.
Live Bait, Lures and Flies for Pike
Live bait: Shiners like common bleak, common bream, golden shiners, minnows or roach make great bait for pike. Hooking them from the dorsal fin is important, since pike take their prey sideways. Some anglers even tie the fish on the hook, to make sure it will live longer and that the hook is in the right place. Also, using red hooks helps, since it contrasts with the silvery color of the sun fish, making it look like they’re bleeding or they are injured. As live bait you can also use frogs, or even small mice, but the shiners work best.
Dead bait: Pike will almost never pass a free meal, therefore you can obtain good results if you use dead bait as well. In general, you can use the same fish as the live bait, but for dead bait, herring makes it best. It has a powerful scent and it appears that pike have a superior sense of smell. Also, wobbling a minnow or a shiner is also a great idea.
Lures: Pike are cannibalistic by nature, so basically you can’t go wrong with lures imitating smaller pike. A few pike fishing lures like this would be Daiwa Cormoran Cora Z Rivalo, Caperlan Pike 140 FL or Salmo Pike lures.
Other than these, you c an also get pike with Mepps Spinners, Magnum and Mepps Musky Killers, Giant Killers, Large Mepps Bucktails Spinners, Musky Marabou, Mepps Marabou, Dardevle Spoons, Large Bass Spinner Baits, Jerk Baits, Crank Baits, Swimwizz, Rattle Baits, Spooks Jitter Bugs, Jointed Rapalas, J-13 Deeper Jointed Rapalas, Ziggy Lures, Willy Lures, Lucky Strike Wooden Muskie Plugs, Spinner Baits Large Mepps Bucktails, Hedon Muskie Plugs.
Flies: Red & White Pike Fly, Rabbit Strip Pike Bunny, Dahlberg Divers. Rat and Frog Flies also work great.
Rods: There are plenty of good rods for pike out there, but as a general idea, you should go with a medium-heavy action rod between 7-8 feet, 2-piece (or one piece), with a nice cork handle for a comfortable grip. A couple of names to look for are Fenwick, Drennan, Rapala North Coast, Gander Mountain. And to be more specific, a few good choices would be: Gander Mountain “Guide Series” 71/2ft, Drennan Series 7 Spincast Spinning Rod 7ft, North Coast Rod 8ft, or something a bit more expensive, a Fenwick 6’6″ HMG Series.
Reels: A spinning reel, with a large line capacity would be best, if you’re going with large and heavy lures. A few great choices would be the two Shimano reels, Shimano Stradic 4000, Shimano Sahara 3000 (I wonder why the heck they’re called Sahara), Daiwa BG90.
Line: Mono is less resistant to abrasion, so 15-20lb braided, maximum 30 would be best. Also, make sure you finish your like with a heavy snap swivel and an 18 inch 40 lb test steel wire leader, so that the pike won’t bite through it.
If you’re fly fishing for pike, a WF10F fly line will do, but it would be best if colored dark brown or dark green, if possible. And as a leader, Mason Hard Mono is a good choice.