The Northern Pike, also none as simply a “Northern” or “pike”, is a fierce, sleek monster of a game fish. Everything about, from its long muscular body to its mouth filled with razor like teeth, say predator. If you want to catch one of these trophies you need to remember what comes naturally to all true predators – hunting.
While many fish will take a lure out of curiosity, a pike takes a lure because it is hunting. In order to successfully attract a pike you need to make sure your lure represents a potential meal. To attract a trophy pike your need to make sure your lure represents a feast.
There are three main methods of targeting pike; through the ice, casting from shore or a boat and trolling. All pike lures share some basic characteristics in that they are large, attention grabbers that make hungry heads turn. Of course although most will work in either method some are more suited to one or another. Here are a couple of the best available for whichever methods you choose.
Daredevil – this is a staple in any angler’s tackle box and for good reason. Available in a variety sizes there is a daredevil ready to tempt any species you chase, including pike. Go big and select a 41/2” size in either 11/2 or 2 oz weight, this will pull the bigger fish out of hiding. Color should be traditional red/white or yellow 5-diamond because sometimes the basics are all you need. For a little extra flare give it a good long cast and just before it lands give it a quick jerk, causing it to slap the water like a jumping bait fish.
Mepps Spinner – these spinners are legendary when it comes to catching big fish and again you need to think big, tasty offering. The Double Aglia in #5 is always a winning option, but if you want to go to extremes H210. With its heavy tandem brass blades and flashy skirt this big boy is 9” in length and weighs in at a hefty 3 oz. Dragged through the shallows during following the spring thaw either will not only ring the dinner bell but their strong treble hooks will allow you to take whatever takes it.
Rapala – when you need to trick a fish into thinking your lure is a helpless meal there is little that will outperform Rapala’s jointed minnows. The J-11 , at 4 3/8” and 5/16 oz , or the J-13, at 5 ¼” and 5/8 oz , in yellow perch or silver are going to drive the big boys crazy. With a diving depth of 4-14’ these are an excellent choice when running the shallow or edge of a channel.
Heddon Plugs – some companies make one thing and make it right. Heddon makes plugs and they make them right. The Rattling Spook and Super Spook combine the size, at 4.5” and 5”, and the enticing rattling sound any hunger fish finds irresistible. When long lined at a medium speed they resemble two things – a lone, desperate minnow and a meal.
Through the ice
Mepps Syclops – like the Aglia or H210, the Syclops is a perfect lure for casting, but when dropped through a hole in the ice its clearly suited for double duty as a jigging spoon. The hot fire tiger pattern with its dark red eye, in 1/8 or ¼ oz , can be jigged up and down as effectively as it can be twitched when cast from shore. Although bigger sizes are available, the ice is the exception to the rule. While the 1 oz size may work in open water, through a 6” hole on lighter tackle smaller is easier to manage.
Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet – most fresh water anglers are familiar with the Gulp line of products, available in a wide range of shapes and all impregnated with the famous Berkley scent/flavor combination that not only attracts fish but gets them to hold on longer. However, few are going to choose the Swimming Mullet, as it was originally marketed to salt water sportsmen. This is a mistake that will be quickly rectified after one use. Tip a a 3/8 oz painted jig head with a pearl/white or chartreuse version and the thick , flat tail will flap about as surely as the liveliest of bait fish.