Northern Pike Fishing – Best Spots and How to Catch Pikes

Fishing Pike

Are you up for the battle?

Pike fishing can be an absolutely exhilarating experience. Northern Pike are ferocious underwater predators and a heap of fun to catch. Pike is also a good eating fish, something that many folks overlook.

When you have a northern pike on the end of your line, you know it. These “water wolves” put up a heck of a battle and will often take your line out more than once. Once you get them to the boat the battle can be far from over. They flip and twist and many times will roll up in your fishing line. This adds to the challenge of landing this superb game fish.

pike strimer catch & release
pike strimer catch & release by helti is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

But don’t confuse the Pike with its cousin the Muskellunge. Although there are similarities between these fish, there are also subtle differences.

The Northern Pike’s diet is primarily made up of fish. However, they have been known to eat small rodents, ducks, and even other pike. There have been many photos taken of small pike eating one of its own of similar size.

northern pike, pike fishing, canada pike fishing, fishing pike, jackfish, fishing for jack
pike fish

Many people have stories about bringing up a fish to the boat and having a large pike strike it while they tried to land it. In fact, some folks claim to have caught “two fish at once” this way. While this is not overly common, the aggressive nature of this fish makes Canadian pike fishing loads of fun!

Northern pike can be caught year-round. Strategies vary from season to season and we have a number of proven methods listed in this section. No matter the time of year, if your presentation is right, you will surely have a battle on your hands.

You can imagine the thrill of a violent stroke on the end of your rod. These fish are capable of remarkable acceleration, so hang on.

Appreciate the pike! It’s a great fighter and always seems to be up for a battle. Explore this post for the best pike fishing strategies. Don’t forget to check out the other freshwater fish strategies while you’re here! Make sure your next trip is a success.

Texas Pike Fishing – Chain Pickerel

This cousin to northern pike swims East Texas waters and can grow relatively large in size, reaching lengths of almost 60 inches (150 cm). Northern pike can weigh over fifty pounds. That is one big fish! If you are after your trophy pike consider dead bait fishing in early spring.

Jamie Catches A Chain Pickerel
Jamie Catches A Chain Pickerel by James P. Mann is licensed under < CC BY 2.0

In Orange County Texas, Adams Bayou is full of chain pickerel – so many that you’ll have an exciting time trying to catch them! And down near Deweyville, where the river water is shallow, you’ll find these fish abundant! These areas are the very end of their range. If you travel up North close to East Texas, you’ll probably find them in almost every river and lake system.

Lake O’The Pines is known for having some really big chain pickerel that could even be considered trophies! Pat Mayse also has some pretty big ones and is actually where the state record was caught in 1996 by Robert Finch. It was 23.75 inches long and weighed a whopping 4.75 pounds! Are you ready to take on the challenge of catching your own trophy-sized chain pickerel?!

10 Best Places to Fish for Northern Pike

Pike-like weedy and sheltered habitats. You will find them around fallen trees, beaver dams and anywhere they can find cover. The pike likes to ambush its prey and uses underwater structures for camouflage. The pike will hammer its prey by blindsiding it from behind or the side.

Northern Pike are popular sportfish primarily found in the northern regions of the United States and Canada. Here are ten of the best places to fish for Northern Pike:

  1. Lake of the Woods, Minnesota: Known for its trophy pike, this large lake offers excellent fishing opportunities and beautiful scenery.
  2. Rainy Lake, Minnesota: Another Minnesota hotspot, Rainy Lake is renowned for its pike fishing and is located near the border with Canada.
  3. Red Lake, Minnesota: This large, shallow lake is known for producing big Northern Pike and offers a unique fishing experience.
  4. Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada: This massive Canadian lake is famous for its giant Northern Pike and offers a remote wilderness fishing adventure.
  5. Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada: A remote and pristine location, this lake is known for its trophy-sized pike.
  6. Lake Athabasca, Saskatchewan/Alberta, Canada: One of the largest and deepest lakes in North America, Lake Athabasca is home to some incredible pike fishing.
  7. St. Lawrence River, New York: This river provides excellent pike fishing opportunities, especially in the Thousand Islands region.
  8. Lake St. Clair, Michigan/Ontario: This Great Lakes lake is known for its abundance of pike and its proximity to urban centers.
  9. Devils Lake, North Dakota: Famous for its strong pike population, Devils Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities.
  10. Mille Lacs Lake, Minnesota: A popular fishing destination, Mille Lacs Lake is known for its diverse fishery, including Northern Pike.

Pike Behavior and Habitat

Pike are opportunistic predators that often lurk in weedy areas, near structures such as fallen trees or submerged vegetation beds. These locations provide ample cover for the pike to ambush their prey. They are known to be highly territorial, especially during the spawning season, and can aggressively defend their chosen areas from other fish.

During the warmer months, pike tend to seek out cooler, deeper waters to escape the heat. They may be found near drop-offs, deeper channels, or areas with ample oxygen supply, such as inflowing streams or areas near bubbling springs. Understanding these preferred habitats can greatly increase your chances of locating pike and enticing them to bite.

Pike are known to be more active during low-light conditions, such as early mornings, late evenings, and cloudy days. These are the prime times to target them as they are more likely to be actively hunting for prey.

During the winter months, pike tend to become less active and may retreat to deeper waters where they remain relatively dormant. However, as spring arrives and water temperatures begin to rise, pike become more active and start moving towards shallower areas to spawn.

Essential gear for pike fishing

The right combination of rods, reels, and lines can make all the difference in your ability to reel in that elusive and powerful pike.

Rod for pike fishing.

When selecting a rod for pike fishing, you’ll want to choose one that is strong and sturdy enough to handle the aggressive nature of these fish. Look for a medium to heavy-action rod with a length of around 7 to 8 feet. This will give you the leverage and control you need to handle big pike and make accurate casts.


A quality spinning reel is typically the preferred choice for pike fishing. Look for a reel with a smooth drag system and a high line capacity. This will allow you to handle the strong runs and sudden bursts of speed that pike are known for. Additionally, opt for a reel with a gear ratio of around 5:1 to 6:1, as this will provide a good balance between power and speed.


When it comes to pike fishing, a strong and abrasion-resistant line is a must. Fluorocarbon or braided lines are popular choices among anglers targeting pike. Fluorocarbon lines offer excellent invisibility in the water, while braided lines provide superior strength and sensitivity. Whichever you choose, make sure it has a test strength of at least 20 pounds to withstand the sharp teeth and powerful runs of pike.

Other important gear

Don’t forget about other important gear such as leaders, hooks, and lures. A sturdy and reliable leader is essential to prevent pike from biting through your line. Opt for a steel or fluorocarbon leader with a breaking strength of at least 40 pounds. When it comes to hooks, choose those specifically designed for pike fishing, such as treble hooks or single hooks with a large gap. As for lures, pike are known to be aggressive predators, so choose lures that mimic the prey they feed on, such as large spoons, crankbaits, or soft plastic swimbaits.

Best Pike Lures & Bait

When it comes to selecting bait, live bait such as large minnows or shiners can be highly effective. The natural movement and scent of live bait can entice even the most wary pike. It’s important to use a sturdy and reliable hook to handle the powerful jaws of these predators.

Another popular choice for pike fishing is using artificial lures. There is a wide variety of lures specifically designed to attract pike, ranging from spoons and spinners to crankbaits and jerk baits. Bright colors and flashy designs are often effective in grabbing the pike’s attention. Additionally, lures that mimic the movements of injured or dying fish can trigger the predatory instincts of pike.

Topwater lures can be particularly exciting to use when targeting pike. These lures create a commotion on the water’s surface, imitating the movements of struggling prey. The explosive strikes from pike as they attack surface lures can provide an adrenaline rush like no other.

How to Catch Pike

Pike are notorious for being ambush predators, lurking in specific areas where they can strike at their prey with lightning speed. To maximize your chances of hooking a pike, you need to learn how to locate their hotspots.

Baby Pike gets the sniff test.
Baby Pike gets the sniff test. by Maine River Guides is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Abundant vegetation

Pike often hide in and around weed beds, using them as cover to stalk their prey. These areas provide ample opportunities for pike to hide and wait for unsuspecting baitfish or smaller prey to swim by. Cast your lure or bait close to the edges of these weed beds, as pike tend to patrol the perimeters in search of an easy meal.


Another technique is to focus on areas with structure, such as submerged rocks, fallen trees, or underwater ledges. Pike are known to use these structures as ambush points, waiting for prey to swim by before launching a surprise attack. By targeting these areas, you increase your chances of encountering a pike. Use lures or live bait that mimics the natural prey found in these environments to entice the pike into striking.

Changes in water depth

Pike are also attracted to areas with changes in water depth. Look for drop-offs, channels, or points where the water depth changes abruptly. These variations in depth create natural pathways for baitfish and other prey species, making them prime hunting grounds for pike. Position yourself at the edge of these depth transitions and cast your lure or bait into the deeper water, gradually working it back towards the shallows.

Disturbed water

Keep an eye out for signs of pike activity, such as surface disturbances or diving birds. If you spot a patch of disturbed water or see birds diving into the water to feed, it could be an indication that a school of baitfish is being chased by hungry pike. These areas are worth investigating, as the presence of active feeding activity suggests that pike are nearby.

FAQs About Pike Fishing

How do you fish pike?

The best way to fish for pike is to use a lure or bait that is attractive to them. Cast your line into areas where pike are likely to be found – often in weed beds, near fallen logs, around submerged structures, or along the edges of a lake or river. Once your lure has been cast, work it back towards shore with a steady retrieve. Make sure to vary your speed and retrieval, as a fast, erratic pattern can sometimes be more effective when fishing for pike.

What is the best way to fish for pike?

When fishing for pike, it’s important to use the right tackle and techniques. Choose a rod and reel that are designed for pike fishing – a heavier action rod paired with a medium-heavy weight reel will help you land these larger fish. Use an appropriate size and type of line for the species you’re targeting – monofilament for trolling, or a heavy braided line for casting. Lastly, make sure to select lures or live bait that appeal to pike – spinners, spoons, jigs, crank baits, artificial worms, are all great options.

What is the best time of year for pike fishing?

Pike are typically more active during spring and fall months when they’re feeding heavily in preparation for spawning. During these times of year there tends to be less competition from other anglers, allowing you more room and opportunity to catch elusive pike.

Where is the best place to fish for pike?

Ideal locations for pike fishing include lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and reservoirs with temperatures between 6-20°C (43-68°F). Look for spots with plenty of baitfish, submerged structures such as logs or rocks, and weed beds with plenty of cover.

Do pike like shallow or deep water?

Pike prefer shallow waters between 2-4 feet (0.6-1.2 meters) deep as this provides easy access to their prey such as minnows and small fish. However, they can also be found in deeper waters up to 10 feet (3 meters) deep.

What lures do pike like the most?

Some of the most popular lures for pike include spinnerbaits, crankbaits, soft plastics, jigs and spinners. Varying the size, color and speed of the lure can help you to entice more strikes. Live bait is also an effective method of catching pike.

What time of day are pike most active?

Pike tend to be more active during low light periods such as dawn and dusk. It is also important to take weather conditions into consideration – overcast skies or rainy days can trigger increased activity in pike.

Are pike hard to catch?

Pike can be notoriously difficult to catch due to their large size and aggressive nature. Patience is key – if your first couple of casts don’t result in a strike then try switching up your technique or moving to a different spot.

Are pike good eating?

Yes! Pike flesh is white and flaky with a mild flavor, and is enjoyable whether cooked whole or filleted. Be aware that some states have regulations on the size limit of pike you can keep – always check local laws before harvesting any fish from the waterway.

What fish do pike eat the most?

Pike feed mainly on small fish such as minnows, perch, dace, roach and sticklebacks. They will also consume insects and crustaceans when available.

Do pike hit topwater lures?

Yes! Topwater lures can be an effective way to catch pike as they often feed near the surface at night or on overcast days, making them easier to target. A steady retrieve with pauses works well – this gives the lure enough movement to attract attention while keeping it within range of a potential strike.

Final Word

We hope you found our blog post on mastering the art of pike fishing helpful and informative. Pike fishing can be a thrilling and rewarding experience, but it requires knowledge and skill. By following the tips and techniques we provided, you can enhance your chances of success and become a true master of pike fishing. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced angler, incorporating these strategies into your fishing trips will surely make a difference. Now, it’s time to grab your gear, head out to the water, and put these techniques into practice. Tight lines and happy fishing!

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