Catching Northern Pike Throughout the Year
Use a slow, stealthy approach. Pike are spooked easily in shallow water. Focus on shallow points and inside turns or flats with developing weeds in coves/bays or areas of the main-lake just outside coves/bays. A slower presentation may be more effective in early spring along with small to medium sized lures/baits. Cast jigs tipped with 4-6 inch minnows (chubs, suckers, or shiners), spoons, spinner baits, in-line spinners, or soft-plastics to specific targets such as clumps of emerging weeds or rock piles, over/along structure, or across weedy flats. Slip-bobber rigs with large minnows are also a good option for specific targets. Another option is to longline troll spoons, jigs tipped with minnows or slip-sinker rigs with minnows over flats or along structure.
Focus on main-lake areas. Larger pike will move to deeper, more sharply sloped structural elements such as points to find cooler water while smaller pike will remain near shallower weeds and the deep weed line. Larger baits/lures can be used in summer. Work larger spinner baits, spoons, jerk baits, and bucktails over/along/through weed beds and weed lines. Casting jigs tipped with larger minnows, deep diving crank baits, or weighted swim baits can be effective for deeper fish. Trolling crank baits can also be effective if legal. Be sure to stay at/above thermocline if one has developed. A faster presentation should be used during the summer. Top water lures are also a good option during low-light and calm conditions.
Focus on main-lake areas with sharply sloped inside bends and shallow flats adjacent to drop-offs that still have green, healthy weeds. Use the largest lures of season. Steep inside bends can be worked by jigging spoons or jigs tipped with large suckers or curly-tailed grubs or by casting crankbaits. Flats can be worked by positioning boat in deeper water and fancasting to the flat with large spinnerbaits, bucktails, or jerkbaits or by dragging jigs across flats and over ledges of dropoffs.
Focus on drop-offs and flats adjacent to drop-offs in the early winter season. The best flats will still have green weeds. Pike will cruise shallow weeds or the inside weed line this time of year. Later in the winter season as weeds die off, they will move out to the deeper weed line and deeper structure. Tip ups set up along weed lines, the ledges of drop-offs or around structure can be effective with 4-6 inch shiners or suckers set just above the weeds. Jigging with a jigging spoon and minnow combination or jig with minnow can also be effective.