Many pike fishing anglers use massive baits in fall to tempt trophy pike. They imagine that shorter feeding home windows and fish trying so as to add kilos previous to ice-up help this method. I’d counter that pike are a coolwater species, they usually feed successfully all through winter, in order that they need not eat a Thanksgiving measurement meal day by day simply because the leaves are altering colours.

Ongoing fieldwork with mid-size pike fishing baits has me satisfied that “giblets” are simpler than tempting them with all the Butterball. I believe the unique use of outsized baits reduces total catch-rate and does little to extend the scale of pike caught.

I focus my fishing on giant lakes or reservoirs with loads of deep water and considerable forage to develop numbers of trophy fish. On giant our bodies of water, massive pike typically are exhausting to search out throughout summer time. They typically keep away from detection by suspending over huge areas of deep water. As nearshore waters cool into the 40°F vary, vegetation on giant flats begins to decay and gives much less cowl for predators and prey. Baitfish flush out of again bays, and pike transfer to rock factors, steep ledges, and windblown humps that focus baitfish. On the identical time, prime forage like ciscoes consider these constructions, so pike have their selection of quite a lot of bait varieties and sizes.

Seek for main-lake rock construction that extends into the lake’s basin and has a flat feeding shelf 10 to fifteen toes deep. Scattered inexperienced weed clumps on these cabinets or a few adjoining rock humps create a really perfect location. Pike journey alongside these identical routes every fall and few anglers ever know of their existence. Once more, the important thing to success is to desert shallow weedflats and focus on giant rock construction.


Pike typically aren’t choosy eaters, however their style preferences can change every day. I head out for a day of fishing with a full collection of mid-size lures and baits. When you assume you are going to catch pike on lipless rattlebaits or bladebaits on any given day, you could be appropriate 20 p.c of the time. When you assume it is a jerkbait chew, you may need the identical possibilities. When you pack each these lure kinds, together with crankbaits, smooth plastics, and livebait, your odds go means up. When you determine prime areas, there’s no use to alter location. It is a matter of rotating by means of lure selections and completely protecting water.

A System That Works

Steve Everetts of Finseekers Information Service, Janesville, Wisconsin, has a ardour for giant pike that ratchets up much more in fall. “I’ve logged 1000’s of hours chasing pike, and with regards to lure measurement I used to be educated to imagine that larger is healthier,” he says. “That mind-set modified whereas fishing 5- to 7-inch suckers and redtail chubs on main-lake factors and rockbars for fall smallmouths. It wasn’t unusual to get bite-offs from pike on these medium-size baits.

“I began to surprise what measurement fish had been inflicting these bite-offs and switched my leaders from 10- to 20-pound-test Silver Thread Fluorocarbon. The culprits had been massive fish. So I put away my muskie plugs and began tossing extra manageable lures together with a refined livebait program.

“Now when concentrating on fall pike, I typically use 3- to 4-inch crankbaits comparable to Rapala DT 14s, Spro Little Johns, and Lindy Shadlings,” he says. “I additionally use lipless baits, comparable to XCalibur XR50s, together with swimbaits, bladebaits, and jig and Gulp! softbait mixtures.

“And I drag suckers and chubs on the identical time I fish with synthetic lures. On my livebait rods, I fish 5- to 7-inch baits, together with an occasional 8-inch-plus providing. The bigger baits get bit a couple of times a day on common, whereas the smaller livebaits get bit 6 to fifteen occasions per outing. A bonus to the smaller baits is you can downsize your hooks and leaders. You possibly can set the hook instantly, so fish get hooked within the nook of the mouth quite than being deep-hooked, which makes for simpler elimination and a faster launch.”

Massive suckers provide a bigger seen presence within the water, however they are typically lazy swimmers. They require heavy line and quick-strike rigs, which additional limit their motion. Plus, at a price of $4 to $5 apiece, it is painful after they’re misplaced to a snag or small pike, and anglers are much less inclined to alter them for a recent bait.

Smaller suckers and chubs are extra frantic within the water. Since a dozen redtail chubs price lower than two giant suckers, changing a sluggish redtail would not have the identical monetary sting. Additionally they have a knack for attracting fish upon initially being deployed. Fished on steep-breaking rock factors or ledges, they know they’re misplaced. Visibility is phenomenal in fall they usually panic when hazard lurks under. Usually, these baits get eaten inside seconds of the sinker hitting the underside and the bait being raised up a pair toes.

When fishing in areas 15 to 30 toes deep, freelining baits is not an possibility. A weighted rig should be used to get the bait down. One rig possibility is a slipsinker on the mainline, adopted by a barrel swivel and a fluorocarbon chief tied to a hook. The purpose is to droop baits 2 to five toes off the underside.

These rigs may be fished vertically underneath the boat or behind the boat on slipfloats. Each have benefits. These fished underneath the boat may be adjusted extra shortly and incessantly. The exercise of the bait additionally may be simply detected by watching the motion of the rod tip. Baits usually get extra lively, or “nervous,” simply previous to being eaten. Slipfloat rigs are extra stealthy, fished farther from the boat. Additionally they permit baits extra freedom to cowl water and appeal to extra consideration.

Everetts’ program incorporates each livebait down-rods and floats for suspending baits near the sting. “I favor to run a pair suckers on Lindy Massive Fish Slider floats 20 to 40 toes behind the boat,” he says. “I fish the remaining rods with vertical displays over the aspect of the boat. For five- to 7-inch suckers, I exploit a 1/2- to 1-ounce egg sinker with 20-pound Silver Thread fluorocarbon leaders and #1 Eagle Claw 226 Octopus hooks or Proprietor Mutu Gentle Circle hooks. For bigger suckers, I exploit 40- to 80-pound-test fluoro leaders to guard from bite-offs on a quick-strike rig.

“I exploit line-counter reels such because the Abu Garcia 6500LC and Okuma Catalina CT-205Da with 20-pound Trilene XT monofilament or 30-pound Sufix 832 Efficiency Braid.” Line-counter reels permit for exact displays and present how deep every rig is ready. At a look you possibly can examine the sonar for depth, learn the line-counter, and modify every rig.

For additional attraction, add a brightly coloured Lindy snell float to the chief. Fish these rigs with the reel’s bait clicker on and the drag not engaged. Reels just like the Okuma Catalina have a knob to regulate pressure on the spool whereas the reel is in free spool. Set it so pike really feel minimal resistance whereas taking the bait. Interact the drag solely when the hook is able to be set.

Lures and Livebait

This twin livebait and casting program requires consideration to element and exact boat management. Previous to setting baits within the water, all the construction needs to be mapped with sonar. Aspect-imaging permits anglers to not solely mark all the fringe of construction, but additionally to determine and mark humps and baitfish faculties off to the aspect. With this data saved within the graph, rigs may be deployed and lures chosen.

Staying on the sting of the drop-off with the trolling motor may be labor intensive, particularly in sturdy winds whereas pulling a number of livebait rigs a couple of toes above the underside and concurrently casting lures. You have to continuously watch your sonar to keep away from drifting into unproductive open water or being pushed onto the rock shelf and getting snagged. With one sonar unit on the bow of the boat and the opposite on the stern, a distinction in depth of greater than 10 toes can typically be seen in a single boat size.

When dragging livebaits alongside factors and steep-breaking edges, three main zones can be found for casting: the flat, the sting, and the abyss. Every is value fishing with lures that run on the applicable depth. Whereas the “edge” fish will be the best to intercept (that is the place the boat needs to be positioned for operating livebait rigs), a solid size on either side of the sting can provide loads of lively fish.

To fish cabinets that run from 8 to 14 toes deep, Berkley Flicker Shads, Rapala BX Swimmers, Sebile ACAST Minnows, and Yo-Zuri Sashimi Jointed Minnows are efficient. These lures dive to the 6- to 10-foot vary and keep their motion and depth at each gradual and quick speeds. Pike on flats want to eat. 5- to 6-inch articulated swimbaits, just like the Sebile Magic Swimmer and LiveTarget Blueback Herring, are nice for working ledges and feeding cabinets. All these lures may be delivered precisely with lengthy casts. Preserve retrieve speeds at a gradual or medium tempo and add quick pauses throughout the retrieve.

Jerkbaits within the 4- to 5-inch vary like Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, Smithwick Tremendous Rogues, and Rapala X-Raps, additionally work effectively on flats. They are often retrieved with quite a lot of cadences. From a jerk-and-pause retrieve to a twitch-and-go, the motion may be manipulated within the water column like few different lures. In contrast to working a jerkbait for bass with extra-long pauses, resist the urge to permit it to droop immobile for too lengthy. Whereas spring pike might hit a bunny fly that suspends immobile for a minute, it pays to get the eye of fall pike and make them react to an actively fleeing jerkbait.

When working the sting, solid deep-diving Spro Little Johns DDs, Rapala DTs, and Bomber Fats Free Shads parallel to the break. These 3- to 4-inch flat-sided lures dive 12 to twenty toes and excel when concentrating on structure-oriented pike. They dive shortly and monitor at most depth till practically underneath the boat. If backside contact is made, let the lure again up and slowly rise a foot or two earlier than persevering with the retrieve. Pike are much less infamous for hitting lures off the ricochet, however something that interrupts the motion or modifications the lure’s route or pace peaks curiosity and spurs motion.

Whereas protecting the sting with parallel casts, additionally solid perpendicular to the sting and into deep water—even over 30 or 40 toes of water. Holding only one or two solid lengths off the sting, pike at occasions droop over this deep water at about the identical depth as the sting. Presenting a Little John DD that dives to twenty toes is engaging within the clear waters of the abyss. These crankbaits seem like yearling bluegills or crappies scurrying to get again to cowl.

Different choices embody lipless rattlebaits that may be fished over a spread of depths. A few of my favorites for pike embody the Rapala Rippin’ Rap, XCalibur XR50, and Yo-Zuri Sashimi Rattl’n Vibe. These lures have a fast fall and better profile than most different rattlebaits. This type is especially efficient when allowed to sink on slack line after which ripped off the underside and allowed to free-fall again to the underside. Modify retrieve pace and aggressiveness of every rip to see what triggers massive pike. Line-watching is important as bites happen on the autumn. Set instantly and exhausting upon feeling the strike. Pike hit and spit these lures shortly.

Use a driftsock to gradual drift pace to lower than a strolling tempo, and proper the pace and route with the trolling motor. If a strike happens or a bait will get nervous, sit on a spot for a number of minutes. Massive pike typically roam in packs in fall. It is common to double up and to land greater than a half dozen massive fish from one spot. I subsequently pack two nets within the boat to permit a number of fish to be landed at once. I like Frabill Conservation Nets. Their knotless mesh and flat backside insures protected launch. With this technique in place the motion typically is quick and livid.

*In-Fisherman Subject Editor Steve Ryan is an distinctive multispecies angler who lives within the Chicago space.

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