Mid-summer Northern Pike fishing in north Western Ontario can be tough. Lake conditions change due to rising air temperature, dominant west winds and hatches alter the position of baitfish which has a trickle effect as well. Not to mention the fact that the metabolism of all freshwater fish fires up.
Does that mean you can catch Pike anytime, anywhere? No. Pike are second on the predatory scale behind Musky, and are effected by changing conditions, so as forage move deeper to find cooler water below the thermocline, so will Pike. As the forage moves shallow during dusk periods, Pike will be close behind. It’s simple, where there is food, there is hungry predators.
As the water temperatures continue to rise, I switch tactics and location from shallow weedy bays and search for pike along weed edges adjacent to deeper water. 15-30ft of water is a great place to start when casting or trolling baits in these conditions when the weed edges don’t pan out. Focusing on my favorite walleye points, humps and reefs, northern pike tend to head deep in search of a cooler water where bait fish and Walleye thrive in mid-summer. Musky Innovations “Under Dawgs” and “Bull Dawgs” are extremely effective when fishing deep water.
When fishing these structures casting and counting down your Dawgs I find is most effective. Depending on the depth, you want to allow the bait to have some hang time between jerks, this is usually when a fish will strike. The first five feet and last five feet of your retrieve are crucial, pike being an ambush predator will tend to follow your bait boat side, where it’s important to finish each retrieve with a figure eight.
The “Titian” and the “Jimmy” (larger tube baits) by Musky innovations can be amazing for deep dwelling pike looking for a deeper, slower presentations a foot off bottom. One little trick that Alex likes to add to his baits is a baitfish scented attractant by Liquid Mayhem. The scent trail can really turn on a feeding response in both aggressive and neutral Pike. Trolling can seem tedious but extremely effective covering more water in a shorter period of time. By fishing different depths in search of Pike midsummer, it allows you to develop a new tactic to targeting tough to catch pike.
When the water temperatures rise, Pike typically seek water temps of about 65-70 degree water. Switching to your fall tactics using larger slower baits, trolling 1.9-2.5 MPH and speeding up and slowing down off deep points and rock humps will improve your success on the water when conditions get tough. Trolling weed edges with Musky Innovations “Shallow Invaders” and “Bull Dawgs” at about 2.5-3 MPH with 20-30ft of line out allows the bait to run shallow enough you don’t contact bottom but still keeps the bait high enough in the water column that Northern Pike will strike in. Usually used as an early morning or evening tactics as Northern Pike tend to come to the weeds to feed on bait fish. Midsummer Northern Pike conditions can be challenging. Switching your tactics and presentation of
baits can turn a fishless day into a successful day on the water. Focus on fishing these structures and experiment with these different methods to help put more fish in the boat at the end of the day. Alex counts on his 8’ Okuma EVX extra heavy rod, paired with a Diawa “Luna” reel spooled with Stren “Super Sonic” braid coupled with nothing but titanium leaders with “stay lock” snap swivels for all techniques discussed here.
Remember, Pike are hungry, aggressive predators that are adaptable to a wide variety of conditions. What truly dictates their behavioral movements and tendencies is the location of their forage but, all freshwater species have a comfort zone. So, try to find the relationship between the two and be versatile with your choices of presentations vs location and you’ll unlock the code of these toothy critters.