Whether you’re already an avid fisherman or just starting out, pike fishing is still one of the most exhilarating experiences to have. The pure rush when a pike hooks on is just fantastic. There’s a reason why they’re the kings and queens of the waters most of the time.
Let’s take a closer look at what you need to know to start pike fishing as a beginner and land your first one. We will go over necessary and useful gear, pike fishing techniques, seasonality, timing and where to fish.
What do northern pike eat?
Pike are predator fish who and are once of the best at what they do – this means any other fish, even another pike, can potentially become their prey.
Pike likes to dominate their environment and can attack their prey up to 1/3 of their own size.
Most of the time, pike consume other fish like perch, bass, chubs, walleyes. But they can also hunt snakes, frogs, bugs or sometimes even smaller felines like ducks.
To learn more about pike diet, read what do northern pike eat.
How to catch northern pike?
As mentioned above, pike are predator fish who will want to dominate all sorts of prey. Therefore, it makes it fun for fishers to use different gear and techniques for pike fishing. That’s also the reason you can hear a huge variety of different advice from different fishers.
Pike can be caught with lure fishing on the shore or in a boat, with dead bait, live bait or flyfishing.
Once you’re interested in different other ways to catch pike, you should definitely try dead bait fishing with some simple rigs. Go ahead a learn about those in my other post about river pike fishing.
Since pike like cooler water, they’re a great catch in the winter once lakes and rivers are frozen. Winter pike fishing is truly an experience of its own. To catch pike in winter times on the ice, you need an ice drill (otherwise known as an auger), a short rod&reel set, pike ice fishing rigs and possibly tip-ups.
Northern pike can also be caught with flyfishing rods. This is a more advanced way that requires more time since it has a bigger learning curve. When choosing the gear, think about the size of pike and what likes to eat.
Best lures for pike fishing
As a beginner in pike fishing, probably the easiest way to catch pike would be with lure fishing.
As conditions vary, you should have multiple types of lures with you, which all work well in certain situations: crankbaits, spinnerbaits, plastics, top-water lures, weedless lures.
Bigger pike require bigger lures – that’s a great rule to go by. This doesn’t always apply, but keep it in mind. When choosing the best color for pike, there’s not a lot you can go wrong with. Pike attacks on movements rather than on the presentation.
This is why the movement of the lure is extremely important. Keep in mind that although pike is a predator, they’re also pretty lazy and don’t want to use too much energy. So, get lures with great movement even in slower speeds.
Here are some of my facorite pike fishing lures:
- Rapala Rattlin 08 – Great fast action lipless crankbait. The vibrating sound heightens curiosity in fish and triggers investigation
- Rapala Rattlin Minnow Spoon – Another great lure to have for times when I want to play the weeds
- Rapala Scatter Rap Crank Deep – Boy, can this lure play! Once you start cranking this lure and it gets into deeper waters, it almost feel as if you’re reeling in a fish. And it works well with active pike.
- Rapala Deep Tail Dancer – When it comes to deep divers – this is the one!
- Rapala X-Rap XR10 – I think that’s one of the first pike lures, that I bought after searching for the best ones on the internet. And it has proven to be a great purchase
- Blue Fox Vibrax Spinner – Definentally my favorite spinner lure, works like a charm
Read more about pike fishing lures in another post.
Baitcaster vs spinning reel for pike fishing?
The struggle choosing between the better reel for pike fishing is haunting many beginner pike fishers. The truth here is that both reels have their pros and cons, but pike can be caught on both equally as successfully. Yup. that’s right.
It mostly comes down to your personal preference really. If you haven’t gone fishing before and this is the first gear you’re planning on buying – I would recommend you the spinning reel just for its simplicity. There’s a smaller chance you’ll get birds nests in your line, get frustrated and give up fishing for good.
However, if you’re already familiar with fishing, I would possibly choose the baitcaster instead. Fishing for pike with a baitcasting reel gives you more flexibility while casting and, the stronger line needed for pike fishing also rolls out more easily.
I would say that the bigger question even is what gear ratio reel should you get. With pike fishing, usually, a medium gear ratio (around 6.4:1) does the trick – it’s universal enough for fast reeling and slow trolling.
I found some great spinning reel options for beginners on Amazon for you to check out:
Here are some great options for baitcasting reel for beginners for pike fishing:
How to choose a pike fishing rod?
Once you have set your mind on whether you will buy a spinning or baitcasting reel, it’s time to pick a suitable rod for the set.
There are a few aspects to choosing a great pike fishing rod and it might be somewhat tricky at first. So, let us clear everything out for you.
For pike fishing, you usually want to have a longer 8-9ft (2,4-2,7m) rod with fast action, medium-heavy to heavy rod power and casting weight between 15-50 grams. This will give you enough leverage to hook the pike and keep them from unhooking themselves while you reel them in.
Learn more about what makes a great pike fishing rod and what to know before buying.
Seasonality plays a great role in pike fishing
If there’s one thing that pike doesn’t like, it’s too warm waters. Keep this in mind next time you go fishing.
It’s not like it’s impossible to fish for pike in the summer, but you need to find deeper waters where the temperature is lower and pike feels better.
It’s quite custom, that pike fishers go out when some others might rather stay home – that’s when the weather is colder and cloudier.
Arguably the best seasons for pike fishing is autumn to spring. That’s where pike fishing really hits its peak since pike are a lot more active.
With colder water temperature, pike come out from deep waters into shallower waters and hit all kinds of lures and baits.
Best times to go pike fishing
As with seasonality, a similar rule goes with choosing the best time of day to go pike fishing. Think about the temperature.
If you want to get the best hours for pike fishing, you need to be by the water early. The best times for pike fishing are usually an hour around sunrise and sunset.
That’s so especially during summer when the water temperature goes up during the day and pike rather stay inactive and save energy.
They hunt for prey much more active during these times of the day, so as a beginner you’re much likely to catch a pike following this rule of thumb.
How to find best spots for pike pike fishing?
If you plan to go pike fishing with lures, it’s a good idea to keep moving along the waterfront. Stay active and don’t cast in one spot for too long.
Depending on whether you’re fishing at a river or a lake, there are some differences in looking for a great spot for pike fishing. However, the overall tips apply for both.
Pike like to hunt near natural obstacles so that they can hide and attack the prey by surprise. Those could be for example lilypads, weeds, tree branches that have fallen into water of even rocks.
Keep in mind that pike doesn’t like to spend too much energy. So they probably won’t stay in the middle of the river with strong current. They’re more likely in turns, river mouths, and on the bank where the water gets deeper.
Using a fish finder for pike fishing
When it comes to pike fishing, finding the right spot is something a lot of fishers struggle with – even pros.
This is why it may be a great idea to invest in a great tool – a castable fish finder. Don’t get me wrong, a sonar can’t help you magically catch all the trophy pike you desire. But what it does do – it helps you to understand the environment and assess the possibility of pike being there.
I have found that deeper makes some of the best consumer fish finders out there – awesome results for a small investment. It’s easy to carry and after a small learning curve rather easy to use.
Go check out the latest price and user reviews about the Deeper Pro Plus on Amazon.
Take aways from this article
Keep in mind to check the weather and your gear before heading out. As mentioned above, the best times for catching pike are during sunrise and sunset.
When trying to choose a suitable reel & rod combo, you can use the help of the other posts marked above to make sure everything suits together and you get the best experience when pike fishing.
If possible, get yourself a fish finder to help understand the environment better. But also keep your eyes open – remember, pike like natural obstacles and dislike strong streams and warm water.