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Northern Pike picture

How to fish for Northern Pike

Nortern Pike are found throughout the northern hemisphere, including Russia, Europe and North America. Northern Pike occur in North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Maryland, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, eastern New York, New Jersey, Idaho, northern New England, most of Canada, Alaska, the Ohio Valley, the upper Mississippi River and its tributaries, the Great Lakes Basin and surrounding states, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska. 
Northern Pike refers shallow, weedy, clear waters in lakes and marshes, but also inhabits slow streams and rivers. After ice-off, they move further into shallows and marshes to spawn, retreating to deep cool waters in summer. Northern Pike prefer a temperature of 50F to 60F, and may stop feeding if water becomes to warm. Northern Pike are voracious and opportunistic predators consuming three to four times their weight each year. They ambush prey from weedy cover, seizing fish with their needlelike teeth. The Northern Pike will attack large prey, often a third their own length. Northern Pike feed mostly on other fish such as suckers, shiners, chubs, Cisco, Yellow Perch, and other Pike. Northern Pike will also feed on frogs, crayfish, mice, and ducklings.
For Northern Pike a medium or medium-heavy action rod that is 6 to 7 feet long and matched up with a baitcasting reel spooled with 15 to 20 lb test of braided dacron mainline is a good tackle set up. At the end of your mainline tie on a heavy snap swivel and to the snap swivel attach an 18 inch 40 lb test wire leader. A steel leader is essential because Northern Pike have razor sharp teeth that can cut or fray the line while you are fighting the fish. Northern Pike hit lures hard so keep your drag on the light side.
When fishing for Northern Pike larger lures are better, the Northern Pike is an aggressive feeder that will grab larger lures. By large I mean 3 to 4 inches long for most lures and for spoons and plugs 3 to 6 inches long. The color choice for your lures can vary from area to area but consistent colors that seem to work are red and white, red and silver, yellow, yellow and black, gray and white, yellow and green, and brown and white.
When fishing with spoons or plugs along the edge of weed beds a medium retrieval speed is best, you want to mimic a baitfish cruising the weed edge looking for dinner. Your spoons and plugs should have that distinctive swimming wiggle. Spinners should be fished with a slow and even pace with just enough speed for the spinner blade to rotate. Top water lures should be fished over the weed beds right on the surface or just below. Fish them with a quick and erratic retrieval. Fish these lures as if they were a mouse or frog trying to get across the lake before they are noticed. The methods above are a guideline or a starting point. If the pike aren't biting then mix up your retrieval methods, lures, and colors.
A variety of lures that have been constant producers of Northern Pike are a dressed #5 Mepps spinner, Mepps Musky Killer, Magnum Musky Killer, Giant Killer, Mepps Marabou or Musky Marabou, Dardevle Spoons, Crank Baits, Jerk Baits, Spinner Baits Large Mepps Bucktails, Rattle Baits, Spooks Jitter Bugs, Jointed Rapalas, Ziggy Lures, Willy Lures, Wiley Lures, Lucky Strike Wooden Muskie Plugs, Hedon Muskie Plugs, and Bucktails in colors mentioned above.


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