Pike fishing is very popular among lots of fishermen and for a great reason. They are big predator fish dominating the waters and being on the top of the food chain almost everywhere they go. Catching pike can be, however, a challenge. Here’s why.
Pike come from a long line of heritage and have evolved to be one of the smartest predators in the water. Although they are aggressive and like to hunt all kinds of prey, different measures need to be taken depending on the season to be successful throughout the year.
Although pike season is commonly from fall, winter and spring, you can still catch them during summer. The trick lies in inspecting the surroundings – water temperature, time of day, location, and possible cover options.
A lot of fishermen tend to struggle with catching pike all year round. Let’s take a closer look at how to use all these tips and tricks to improve your pike catching skills.
Spring pike fishing
Spring is a great time of year to catch great pike, since they’re hungry after a spawning season.
During spring, pike are still very active and eager to hunt for prey. Although the rule of thumb “the bigger the bait the bigger the pike” applies, pike also grab lots of smaller fish.
Therefore, you can get away with using smaller lures. You will, however, want to stick to lures with more play to them, creating more noise and movement in the water.
If you plan to fish in rivers, it’s a great idea to start upstream. Pike go there to spawn and thus you’re more likely to find them there.
In the lakes, you can have a similar mindset. Pike are usually near river mouths, that feed this particular lake. Also, pike can be found closer to shore as the temperatures are lower.
This brings us to the next point.
Since the water temperature during spring is still cooler, pike can be seen and caught pretty easily. But you do need to check the longer forecast since coming warmer temperatures might lead pike to start changing habitat.
During springtime, they usually start moving from upstream to downstream as the spring goes on and water temperatures rise.
Unfortunately, there’s no exact way to figure out where pike currently resides. The reason being, the climate is different in locations and years are always not similar.
If you plan to start fishing for pike during spring, think about recent years – is the weather cooler or warmer then the last few years. If cooler, move upstream, if warmer, move downstream.
But also keep in mind the winter that you just had. If it was a rough winter and the ice melted later – then in early spring the pike might still be in deeper waters which didn’t freeze completely during winter.
Time of day
The timing is usually a key component for fishermen who go out for pike fishing.
As another rule of thumb, the best times for pike are usually around sunrise and sunset. However, since in spring the weather isn’t as harsh yet and water temperatures allow pike to hunt for longer – you can successfully catch pike throughout the day.
If you’re not having luck during the daytime, then use the rule above as a guide and stick to these times of the day.
Where to catch pike during spring? this is probably one of the most common questions asked when it comes to spring fishing sessions.
It’s important to inspect the surrounding where you plan on fishing. Keep in mind that although pike wants to dominate and attack everything, they still like certain spots better.
During spring, there’s not much cover to help pike lurk and hunt for prey. That is, of course, if we think about weeds, lilypads, and other plants.
That’s why you need to find natural cover in other forms. Those can be for example rocks, tree branches that have fallen into the water. But also turns in rivers and slacks with stagnant water.
By the way, the last ones are one of the favorite hunting grounds for pike throughout the year. So, be extra attentive to such places.
Spring is a time of year when pike are more active and aggressive towards their prey. That provides a great possibility for you to do some lure fishing for pike.
When choosing suitable lures for spring, think of eyecatching drama queens. The more bells and whistles they have, the more noise they cause and the attention they grab.
Show me a pike that doesn’t love a challenge!
And since the water weeds haven’t gown yet, there’s a much smaller risk of losing any of your lures. That’s the perfect time to use all kinds of crankbaits, jerks, top-water and spinnerbaits.
Here are some of my favorite lures for spring:
Summer pike fishing
Summer is the time when fishermen usually struggle with pike fishing. The reason is that pike don’t like warm waters and tend to stay low most of the day.
When pike are active during spring, the coming summer changes this. Pike are known to be less active during summer due to the water temperature.
This said, they still need to feed and still want to hunt. They just limit their active time into smaller portions of the day and stay low for the rest of the day.
But if you do find the location where pike spend their day – they are still likely to attack your lure. If you get close enough, that is.
The main reason for pike’s inactiveness during summertime is the water temperature. Since the weather is hot and the sun is blazing, pike choose cooler times of the day to hunt.
If you do, however, still want to fish during daytime, there’s a good chance you find pike in places where the water is colder.
Time of day
As temperatures get higher, the time of day plays a growing role in pike fishing. To increase the chances of catching pike, you want to stick to the basics – sunrise and sunset.
These two times of day become the best friends of you when you’re planning to do some fishing. Pike are active during then and it’s more likely they will follow your lures longer and further.
I have already mentioned, that summer is the time when fishermen struggle catching pike.
Finding suitable places is important to land a pike successfully.
During summer, the natural cover options increase, but so do the water temperatures. This means, that during the daytime, pike chooses places where the temperature doesn’t get as hot as the sun.
If you’re fishing on a boat, locate the deeper parts of the lake or river you’re fishing on. There’s a good chance that you’ll find bigger pike lurking around there.
If you’re on foot and fishing from shore, keep in mind the direction of the sun. Try to find spots that are in shade, away from direct sunlight. Once you locate such a part of the river or lake, look around for natural cover where pike might want to stay.
When springtime is usually great for lure fishing, summer is commonly different.
Although you might be able to catch some pike during sunset and sunrise with lures, it’s actually a great time of year to practice dead bait fishing.
I find that bait fishing during summer provides more action and more wins.
You can find different bait rigs throughout the internet and YouTube. If you’re fishing in a river, you might also want to check out a great bait rig for river piking.
Fall (autumn) pike fishing
Fall (autumn) is commonly known as the official starting point for pike fishing. So read through this article, prepare your gear and head out!
Yes! The blazing summer is finally over and pike start to come out to play.
After an exhausting summer, trying to find suitable spots and gear for pike fishing, fall is like a gift given by nature.
That’s when the sun isn’t as high anymore and the temperatures start lowering. That’s when pike starts to be more active again, lurking for greater distances and hunting for longer times.
Early spring, when the water temperatures are still high, you might want to use the techniques you learned during the summer. As time goes on and temperatures start dropping, pike gets more active.
Dropping water temperatures allow pike to fan out and ditch the deeper waters. This is when they start moving upstream again to replenish.
Time of day
Days aren’t as long anymore and sun isn’t as high. This, in turn, offers longer quality time for pike fishing.
As the fall goes on, the time of day doesn’t have that great of an impact any longer.
You might still be luckier during sunrise and sunset, but you can easily be just as lucky during other times. Especially when there’s overcast.
It’s fairly common that overcast weather is productive for pike fishing. Some fishermen even go as far, to say, as the best time to fish is just before a thunderstorm.
Since we already went through how fall brings out more pike, you might already see where this is going.
The location variety for fall pike fishing is a lot bigger than in summer. The only difference is, that with fall die the weeds that pike have grown fond of during summer.
This means that you need to bring out all the tricks that you used during spring. Find natural obstacles that pike can use as cover.
That can be rocks, trees that have fallen in the water, overgrown trees (to offer protection from dangers on land), and river slacks where water is more stagnant.
Fall is a great time for both – lure and bait fishing. Many use the same lures during fall that they would use during spring.
My only suggestion here is that fall pike likes bigger prey – so go up in size to catch bigger pike. After all, fall is known to be the trophy pike season.
It’s definitely a great idea to keep a fishing gear checklist so you won’t leave anything important at home.
Also, if you’re in need for great fall and spring fishing clothes, I have created another post for it.
Winter pike fishing
Winter is a time for true enthusiasts. It’s where you need a whole new arena of gear – from clothes to rigs and rods. And then some.
But it’s an awesome experience nevertheless and offers many great catches.
Pike can be caught throughout the year, but are most active during cold water seasons – from fall to spring.
This is why they’re very popular during winter times when lakes and rivers are frozen.
Since sun isn’t a factor anymore, they are active throughout the day, with small spikes during sunrise and sunset.
As you can imagine, the water temperature doesn’t play a huge role during the winter when ice covers appear.
Water is nice and cold everywhere and pike feel the most comfortable just then.
The only thing to look out for during cold wintertime is how thick the ice is. If there’s not enough room for pike, they will move to deeper waters.
Time of day
Time of day doesn’t play that great of a role during winter times, as water temperatures are low all day and smaller fish can be comfortably hunted.
There’s usually a gap during the day when pike doesn’t want to eat and rather stays low, but they’re a lot more active throughout the day when compared to summertime.
Finding a suitable location for pike during winter is definitely a challenge for many.
When it comes to drilling a hole in the ice, you might want to do some research beforehand. If possible, take out a waterbed map of the location you plan on visiting.
Since weeds and other plants aren’t available, pike often finds cover behind bigger rocks and tree branches. They tend to also like drop-offs, where the river or lakebed goes deeper.
To help you find such suitable spots, it’s a great idea to use a small castable fish finder or sonar, like Deeper. You can find the latest price on Amazon.
Gear is a key element during winter ice pike fishing. Come without it and you will be left with no pike.
I have already mentioned that ice fishing is a true enthusiast deck of cards. You need to invest in gear that you won’t be using any other season of the year.
Starting from insulated boots, warm underwear, cold-resistant pants, jacket, and gloves. You should also prepare meals and consider a cauldron of hot beverage since you’re staying on a frozen lake for probably hours.
When it comes to actual fishing gear, there are also differences with other seasons. The most common pike fishing methods include a small rod & reel set and tip-up rigs. You can find both easily on Amazon.
When using tip-ups, you also need dead baits, so head on to your local fishing store, they should have the necessary stock. Another option would be to go to the market and get some from there. You can learn about the northern pike diet in my other post.
Don’t forget to bring an ice drill (aka auger). Stay safe on the ice!
Pike fishing can be a truly exhilarating activity. Now you have the base knowledge to succeed in all kinds of conditions. Just go out there and keep fishing.
Remember the two rules of thumb we went through today:
- Pike fishing peaks are during sunrise and sunset
- The bigger the bait the bigger the pike
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