As the temperatures start to cool with the arrival of fall, northern pike action begins to heat up. This is the best time of year for anglers to get out on the water to take advantage of the hottest northern pike fishing of the season.
While northerns can be caught throughout the year, the fall offers the best time to catch big pike. When the temperature begins to drop, northern pike go into feeding mode, as they prepare for winter. Big northerns become more active and more accessible to anglers.
While much of the summer angling action for northerns takes place in the early morning or evening hours, northerns are more likely to bite throughout the day, during the fall. When focusing on big pike, the best times will continue to be during the morning and evening, but as temperatures drop, it is possible to catch them at any time during the day.
One of the keys to fall northern fishing is to watch the weeds. Like the plants on land, lake vegetation wilts and fades during the fall. Northern pike will be most attracted to the weeds that remain fresh. Typically, the deeper weeds will be the last to turn yellow or brown, so this is where you should concentrate your efforts. Fish the deep weed lines. Watch for congregating bait fish, like shad or smaller game fish like sunfish or crappies. Wherever the prey is found, there are likely to be big pike pursuing it.
In rivers, concentrate on areas were currents meet or where tributaries enter the river. In both lakes and rivers, springs can be especially good areas to focus on, during the fall.
Another tip is to fish deeper during the day and to focus on shallower locations during the early morning or evening.
Many of the same baits that work well for northerns during the spring and summer will be effective in the fall. Crankbaits with hard bodies and spoons are among the most productive. Anything that resembles the baitfish northerns are feeding on is likely to trigger a bite. Remember to use a steel leader between the line a bait to prevent the northern’s sharp teeth from damaging the line.
Another great tactic for fall pike is to fish live bait. One of the best methods is to fish a sucker minnow below a bobber. This can be deadly for big northerns and it is also a great way to avoid catching the smaller “hammer handle pike”. One important thing to remember is to give the fish plenty of time to take the bait, before trying to set the hook.
Northern pike fishing is undoubtedly one of the best fishing opportunities of the fall. Anglers who take advantage of this opportunity have the chance to land some of the most memorable fish of any time during the fishing season.