Understanding Mid-Summer Pike
Dog Days can be Hog Days
Mid summer part two
Mid summer is one of the most misunderstood times of year in regards
to catching Giant Pike. However once you understand that catching Giant
Pike in mid summer is all about location it can be the most productive.
First I'll tell you about some mistakes that cause people to give up on
the right location.
Fat and Happy Mid summer has been described as a "time of stress". This is sited
as the reason that they are difficult to catch. The fact is that the pike
are in no rush to go on a feeding frenzy (but they do). They are literally
fat and happy.
Think of any predator. When food is scarce or they are under stress they
are on the prowl for food steady. When they are well fed (fat and happy)
they will watch easy prey walk/swim right by. They seem to be saying;
"it's too hot to hunt, it's too windy to hunt, I'm not hungry, I'm tired"
In short they wait for all the conditions to be just perfect. The one
thing they won't do is leave the restaurant/ mall. You also have to
remember that their prey is having a similar experience and the rhythms of
that relationship have become pretty steady.
Lets take a moment dispel a few myths. "Pike lose their teeth". This myth seems to be disappearing but I
still hear it once in a while. I've seen pike with missing teeth but not
all of their teeth and I have never had a week or even a day when every
pike had no teeth.
"Pike hit out of anger". I file these with the "Pike lose their teeth"
stories. I don't know what started the story. I have had pike hit after
casting to a spot many times. I've watched pike pass up several different
lures. In most cases something other than the lure being cast repeatedly
to the same spot makes fish react. Subtle changes in the barometer or a
localized pressure change, maybe a moon phase and yes sometimes the fish
simply decided to bite.
"Pike go deep". Perhaps this may be true in some southern waters. I
believe it has more to do with food availability than water temperature.
Not many waters warm above 72 degrees except for the top few feet. Oxygen
levels may be another culprit.
"They'll follow but won't hit"
This is where location goes to the extreme. In dark water lakes when we're
fishing cabbage beds or mid lake humps you can't see the fish and they are
not ready to bite (we're not hungry) There are hundreds of ways to entice
a strike. We do many of them without even thinking about it. I've been
sharing them with my guests for 34 years.
I would say the most important thing in enticing a strike is precise
location. You have to know exactly where your quarry is. This enables you
to put your bait in front of it in a manner that will entice a strike.
Wearing polarized classes is one of the most important things in that
regard. You have to see the fish to know what mood it is in and where it
is moving before you can even attempt to entice a strike.
Lets back up Prescouting your location is the first key ingredient of success.
If I can't actually see the fish I visualize exactly where the biggest
fish is on a given structure (often I'll have it marked with a small dark
marker)- then cast 20-30 feet away from that spot and bring the bait
across in front of her.
You can only get a fish to strike if it sees your bait.
When fishing a weed bed I'll keep a spinner bait near the surface then let
it drop nearly to bottom after it clears the edge of the weeds. Then I
slow roll that spinner to the boat. It often gets hit just as it starts to
rise off bottom as it nears the boat.
Suicks - Well this could make up a small book. Basically adjust your
approach to the situation. Don't follow the instructions on the package. I
can't tell you how many times I've had a Suick sit motionless for 2
minutes or more before a big pike smashed it.
Of course watching for follows is critical.
Knowing which way the fish came from and where it returned to is also
You want to entice the strike before the fish comes into the shadow of the
You want to move your bait in a manner that does not require the fish to
travel under the boat.
If you are back trolling and your partner has a fish following off the
bow, keep back trolling until all possibilities of enticing a strike are
exhausted. If it turns slowly it will probably return to where it came. If
it turns quickly it will probably return for a second look.
Simple things like pausing in mid retrieve while working a spoon. Double
pumping a stick bait.
Working a jig or jig and minnow combo while sight fishing negative fish is
I find sitting and watching a bobber boring so I won't get into it.
Often somebody will catch a medium or even a large fish on some offbeat
lure and everyone will scramble to put on something similar. Don't. I tell
my guests to stick with these 3. As time wears on and nobody catches a big
fish I can see his or her confidence in me reach an all time low. Then it
gets worse. Another boat catches a 35-inch pike in deep water (or shallow
bay) Ahah the pike all went deep. They read it in an article somewhere. I
read that article also. It's filed with the "pike lose their teeth"
Experience = confidence So what makes me confident in a location? What keeps me confident?
First. Usually I have thoroughly scoped out the exact layout and I'm
concentrating my efforts on key spots "sweet spots" on the structure I'm
fishing. The sweet spots may be the size of your boat and seldom more than
30 yards by 30 yards.
Many times the direction of your retrieve whether across, towards or away
from a sweet spot makes the difference? In all cases I stay well back of
the sweet spot either anchored or back trolling if we have wave action.
Shifting the motor in and out of gear to work the boat across the face of
a structure. If at all possible I remain up wind to make it easier for my
guest to make the long casts necessary.
I will then work the entire structure. This is more to give everyone a
sense of purpose while we wait for the fish to start hitting. Very seldom
does a big fish come from an unexpected spot. If it happens then I'll
scope out the spot to see exactly what it is that held the fish. Maybe
it's a "road" that baitfish travel to and from the sweet spot.
Once again, unless the spot is close to shore I usually place markers on
the sweet spot. This way if I have other boats with me I cans point out
the markers to be sure nobody runs over the spot. After all I intend to be
here a while. I always figure that just because I (or you) show up at a
spot and do all of the things necessary for success it doesn't
automatically mean the big fish are ready to bite. Don't worry there are
many different pike utilizing each sweet spot. If you are catching a lot
of small pike you likely won't catch many big pike. If you're in the
premier sweet spot there should be dozens of big pike. Are you in exactly
the right spot? Even in a large shopping mall some stores get more
Right time right place
Remember your lure has to be seen by the fish at the right time. If you
spend 90% of your time fishing poor percentage areas. The 10% of the time
that you do spend in the high percentage area would need to be exactly
when the pike are going to bite. You probably realize that window of
opportunity is really quite short.
I seldom work more than 3 or 4 spots in a day. If I work 10 or 12 I
usually don't catch much and I'm probably just showing my guests some
spots to work for the rest of the week. I'll work each sweet spot on the
structure for 20 minutes watching for follows and boils. Here's where
amber colored polarized glasses are important. Many times I have fished a
new spot (or old) and questioned my choice. Seeing a few 45-inch fish
follow even if they stayed 3 or 4 feet below the surface provides the
affirmation needed to stick with it. Make note of how the "follows" act.
If it came in fast and high it likely saw the bait close to the boat and
didn't have time to set up before your bait neared the boat. To entice the
followers into striking use some of the methods mentioned earlier. The
important thing is knowing that the fish is there and it's interested.
Learn to judge the size of a fish at various depths. This is best learned
while fighting a fish. Learn to recognize the size of a fish by how large
a boil or how much water it moves when it strikes your bait. If a fish
hits 2 feet below the surface it takes about 3 seconds for the boil to
reach the surface. If the boil is 3 feet across and moving slowly that was
a large fish. Think about it and in time you'll get pretty good at it.
Learn the predator prey relationship of various water bodies. Consider
what daily and seasonal factors affect predator and prey. Consider
weather, light, wind, temperature, and of course the solar lunar times.
I'll keep going back to good spots where I saw big fish and generally felt
good about it. Maybe we had to leave a spot because myself of another ran
over the sweet spots. If my guest really wants action over quality then
all bets are off. However even when fishing in kindergarten I'm still
looking for the teacher.
I know that I said location was the key and I'm sorry that it took so long
to get to it. Next we'll get to the meat of the matter. In Mid Summer Pike
Part 3 I'll discuss exactly what to look for in a Cabbage Bed, Mid Lake
Hump, Bay, and Point including how to work those structures with various
baits. Later we'll have to talk about equipment. Until next time keep your
Here's a parting thought.
"A person who says that catching Giant pike is easy either has no idea
what they are doing or is an extremely good angler."
If you have specific questions about How to Catch Giant Pike or would like
a copy of my 2 hour DVD "How To Catch Giant Pike Two", email me at
firstname.lastname@example.org I will do
my best to answer your questions. Visit
Click on the articles section for articles on other methods and times for
catching Giant Pike.
Until the next issue - tight lines. Kevin Geary
Kevin is the past Producer/Host of Outdoor Encounter TV
Series, Producer of the 2-hour video How To Catch Giant Pike, Camp owner
and Fishing Guide. Kevin has caught more than 3000 Pike over 40 inches and
is considered an authority on modern freshwater Pike fishing.