Fishing Large Pike and Muskie in Northern Minnesota

Today I’m happy to offer a guest post about chasing, along with some how to’s, about fishing for large northern pike and muskies.  This post is by John Olson who has a new blog about bow hunting,[Bow Hunter Guides].  John is an avid fisherman and bow hunter and his blog features reviews of high end, [bow hunting equipment] and tips and techniques to harvest a big buck.  Down here the closest thing we have to northern pike are chain pickerel, good table fare, but really bony and most we catch are thrown back.  Enjoy this post, I did!

More than any other fish in the state of Minnesota, the walleye is chased, studied and fished for, but while a very good tasting fish and a challenge to catch, many anglers are missing the joy of chasing down large northern pike in the many lakes of the state.  Large northern pike, or “gators”, named for their impressive display of teeth, are a unique challenge to fish for and can offer the opportunity to catch a fish of a lifetime.  Many pike grow in excess of forty inches and can weight twenty pounds, or more!  They are tremendous fighters and, on the end of the line, will give any angler more than they can handle.  Unlike their close cousin the muskie, northern pike are more aggressive and easier to catch.

The best time of year to chase big gators is in the mid to late fall when the trees are in color.  Smaller fish slow down this time of year and the big ones are in a feeding frenzy.  The fish are fattening up for winter and know that the ice will soon cover the lake limiting oxygen making food sources harder to acquire.  Fish this time of year are extremely aggressive and are fairly easy to trigger a strike.  Here are some keys to fishing pike in Minnesota during the fall season.

1.  Big lake equals big fish.  You can catch large pike in many northern lakes in Minnesota, however, if you are going to consistently catch big fish, you need to go to larger bodies of water that have huge food sources.  Some prime suspects include Lake Mille Lacs, Lake Vermillion, Lake of the Woods and Leech Lake.  You can find big pike in many other lakes but these lakes consistently produce large fish.

2.  Shallow bays with weed lines that break to deep water.  My personal favorite is to find bays in these large bodies of water with well-developed weed lines that break sharply toward deep water.  The weeds are dying this time of year and the fish move out of them.  These voracious eaters sit on break line feasting on baitfish.  They have multiple ways to attack baitfish from these situations including, coming from the deep like a lightning bolt, or sitting in the edge of the weeds to pounce on fish that do not see them.

3  .Sunny days fish top water lures.  These pike will sun themselves in bays and top water lures are the ticket to get a big fish to strike.  Personally, I like jerk baits on the surface retrieved at a very fast rate.  There is nothing more exciting that seeing a big gator pounce on your top water lure then watching it disappear.  Sometime, if you are lucky, they will come completely out of the water, creating an awesome spectacle!  A side benefit is that these lakes also produce record class muskie and this technique is effective for those fish as well.

4.  Cloudy days fish deepwater breaks with crank baits and spinners.  Cloudy days usually produce more fish than sunny days and deep water cranks and spinners will produce some big fish.  The pike often will sit deep and strike any baitfish that comes out of the weeds.  I like to throw big rattling cranks parallel along the weed then retrieve with a stop and go pattern.  Rapalla X-raps work great in these situations since they mimic a wounded fish.

So, this fall if you want to enjoy a great weekend of fishing, grab your tackle box and heavy equipment, then go chase down some big pike.  These exciting fish are fun to catch and, when on the end of your line, will get your heart to racing!