How do you catch the wily Northern Pike in late autumn period when the Northern Pile have set up along weed and reed lines and along shorelines littered with fallen trees and submerged wood?
Be innovative – employ slightly larger than normal (¾ to 1 ounce weight) bass-style willow leaf spinner baits. A worm or a “twister tale” can be added to further entice the fish out for a strike. In addition this combination works to great effect being quickly retrieved as the lure bulges just below the lake water’s surface. You need not hop, pop or play around with the lure in any way. Just keep the lures moving continually through the water.
When the bigger game Pike won’t come to the surface though, you can dredge them up with a heavier 1 ½ ounce to2 ½ ounce muskie size spinnerbait. Just let the spinnerbait flutter down and then slowly crank it back to the boat, keeping the lure within a foot of the lake bottom at all times. This will work best in thick grass but also on main rocky lake structures as well.
On the other hand hard crankbaits excel in “open water”, on deep flats and around main lake rocky structures in the time periods from the mid summer until freeze up at Lake Manitoba Narrows. You can even employ lipless versions of these lures as they are superb around weed and seed lines.
If you do troll with these lures, they can useful. Just do not troll around aimlessly. It is always easy to do with a case of Canadian O.V. Concentrate on key transitions, edges, drop offs. Breaklines and specific bottom contours. Remember that if you pause the lure for only a split milli second, the Pike of your dreams, following your lure has only the option of opening its mouth to grab that lure.
You might want to try “Weedless Spoons” in and around cover while the traditional style spoons produce best fishing results in main lake areas especially around the rocky structures. Troll the bigger heavier traditional style spoons during the late fall periods. Each spoon style has a different pattern to attract the Pike – moving around in a distinctive wobbling and thumping action. It all comes down to trial and error, day by day. It is as if those fish have distinct and yet changing personalities and preferences. Some like this, some like that, and they seem to change their mind day to day as well.
While most experience anglers know that in line spinners are just wonderful around vegetation few ever try casting them into shallow rock piles, reefs and shoals that you find in your fishing travels. Even more when the Northern Pike head for deep and deeper water patrol weedlines and the edges of hard rock structures especially the sections exposed to the wind and the waves. Experienced anglers see, to know that nothing seems to catch the Pike’s attention more than a large (½ to 1 ounce) bass style, jig dressed with oversize 5 to 8 inch long soft plastic twister tail, minnow or eel baits. The weight of the jig and the size of the dressing depend of course on the depth of the water and the size of the fish. Of course big is better but when the fish are aggressive cast out the jig and soft plastic? Let it fall to the bottom. Then quickly “snap” it back to your boat briskly using an exaggerated lift. Then fall, pause and retrieve.
Remember – you came all this way to get that monster Pike of your dreams. That fish did not live this long and grow this big without being both smart as well as hungry.