Also known as the “water wolf,” pike provide some of the most exciting and challenging fights on the water. They strike hard with explosive energy and fight all the way to the boat, which is the exact reason so many fishermen seek them out.
But like most species, the warm summer months change their habits, which forces anglers to alter their tactics when seeking out these voracious predators. Not to worry, here are a few tips for summer pike season.
With summer comes bright sun and warm temperatures, which to fish means deeper water, cover from the sun and varying feeding habits to coincide with such changes. Pike will head towards weed beds primarily during this time, as the vegetation shields them from the sunlight. But other prey species think the same thing, which is the other reason pike love such locations. Their slim bodies enable them to slink between the weeds and ambush other fish. Pike will also begin to roam deeper waters, hoping to intercept traveling schools of smaller fish species.
Fish weed beds
To capitalize on changes in pike behavior, anglers will have to seek out weed beds and grass and pick them apart to locate the fish stationed there. To locate the larger, more nomadic, fish, fishermen must resort to relying on their fish finders or slowly picking apart the deeper parts of a lake. It may seem tedious, but pike are quite inconsistent in their territories, as they are predatory fish and must seek out food.
Great lures for summer pike range from plastic swimbaits to the timeless classic, the spoon. Large swimbaits, I’m talking the 5, 6, and 7-inch range, have seen a boost in popularity over the last few years for their castability and realistic action in the water. However, pike have a tendency to rip these soft baits apart, so use them at your discretion. Spoons have always been the go-to lure for pike, and summer is no exception. I keep several Johnson Silver Minnows in my tackle box when seeking summer pike, as their design works great among the weeds.
Use braided line
You can also tip spoons with a grub (white and chartreuse work great) to add a little flare. Buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits will also work well. Be sure to start off slow with your retrieve, occasionally pausing or jerking the lure to entice those infamous followers. Whatever you use, be sure to use either a steel leader or braided line. I prefer to use braid, since it holds up well against pike’s sharp teeth, but it also slices through vegetation smoothly, especially when I find myself in a tug-o-war with a large fish.
Finding and catching pike in the summer is only as hard as you make it. All it takes is a little common sense and some patience. Find the vegetation and the deep structures and pick them apart like you were looking for a lost watch, and you’ll entice these ambush fish in no time. Patience truly is a virtue, in any fishing situation, and only those who employ it will reap the rewards of their hard work on the water: pulling a giant, fanged pike to the boat after a great fight.