How to Catch Giant Pike (PART 2)
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 critical.
You want to entice the strike before the fish comes into the shadow of the boat.
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 awesome.
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” stories.
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 customers.
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 line tight.
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 www.anglerskindom.com . 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.