One of the pleasures of anticipating your fishing trip to Canada is assembling the kit of gear that will allow you to successfully catch the fish you want. Here is the basic gear list for northern pike. For those new to this fishing, the Andy Myers Lodge website has an overall primer under fishing, entitled Planning Your Trip: A Year on Eagle Lake, and separate pages for each of the target gamefish species in the lake.
Northern pike spawn in shallow water as soon as the ice melts in the spring. They remain in the shallows until mid-June when the bigger fish begin migrating deeper, usually staying below the thermocline throughout the summer. At this time, some of the biggest pike, to 20 pounds, are caught by walleye anglers fishing deeper structures, or by pike anglers specifically deep jigging, rigging, and trolling. If that’s not your cup of tea, there are always large numbers of ‘action sized’ pike up to 34” in the shallows along reed and weed lines. They offer fast, aggressive casting action on lighter tackle. In the fall, after turnover, they can be found on shallower structures again, and real beasts are regularly taken on live bait. All this means that your approach to pike fishing will change markedly depending on the season.
EARLY SEASON – ICE OUT TO MID-JUNE
- Spinning Rod/Reel/Line Combinations – 7-7.5’ medium to medium heavy, fast taper spinning rod, such as St. Croix Premier or Legend Tournament, with a Shimano Stradic, Sustain, or Stella series 2500 spinning reel, spooled with 12 to 17 pound monofilament, or 30 to 40 pound braid, like Seaguar Threadlock, Power Pro, or Berkley Big Game, with a 10 to 16” leader of 17 to 30 pound fluorocarbon or 6 to 12” of Berkley bronzed 7 Strand 40 pound wire leader from Stealth Tackle.
- Casting Rod/Reel/Line Combinations – 7 to 8.5’ medium to medium heavy, fast to extra fast taper casting rod, like: St. Croix Premier; Mojo; Legend Tournament; or Legend Extreme, with a Shimano Tranx 300-400 series reel; Calcutta 300; Calcutta D 300-400; or an Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast 50-60 reel, spooled with 40 to 60 pound braid (Seaguar Threadlock or Power Pro), with a 14 to 20” leader of 40 to 60 pound fluorocarbon, or 10 to 14” of Berkley bronzed 7 Strand 40 to 60 pound wire leader from Stealth Tackle.
- Casting Lures – 3” #5 Mepps; Muskie Mayhem Baby Girls and Show Girls; ¾ to 1.5 oz spinnerbaits; 5 to 7” suspending minnow jerkbaits; 7” Suick; 6” Phantom Softail; 4 to 7” spoons; Lewis Rat-L-Trap; Bait Rigs Esox Cobra Jig with a Yamamoto Reaper or Lizard, or a 5 to 7” sucker minnow or fillet strip.
- Live/Dead Baiting – 30 to 40” leader of 40 to 60 pound fluorocarbon, or 40 pound Berkley bronzed 7 Strand wire leader, with a #1-1/0 quickset rig with a live or dead 5 to 9” sucker or cisco. You will also need a ½ to ¾ oz rubber core sinker, or a slip bobber.
LURES FOR MID-SEASON
- Casting/Jigging – Chatterbait, 1.5 to 2.5 oz spinnerbaits, in-line spinners such as: Mepps; Muskie Mayhem Showgirl; or Panther Martin; 5/8 to ¾ oz Lewis Rat-L-Trap; 9 to 10” Suick; Regular Bulldawg and Regular Swimming Dawg; Medusa; Depth Raider; Bait Rigs Esox Cobra Jig with a Yamamoto Reaper or Lizard.
- Trolling – Livingston Lures Voyager, Interceptor, and Bulldozer; Rapala X Rap 40; Mann’s Stretch Trolling Series 20 to 40; 5 to 6” Spoonplug; Grandma; Cisco Kid; 2 to 4 oz spinnerbait; 9 to 10” Suick; 8 to 10” Bobby Bait; all in black/orange; chartreuse; black/nickel; and white/nickel.
- Livebaiting – 1/2 to 1 oz inline or sliding sinker, with 30 to 40” of 30 to 40 pound fluorocarbon leader, or 20 to 30” of 40 pound bronzed 7 strand wire leader; 1/0 to #1 octopus or J hook, or #1/0 to 2/0 quickset rig, with a 5 to 8” dace or sucker minnow.
LURES FOR LATE SEASON
- Trolling – Livingston Lures Bulldozer, Pounder, Squeaky Pete, Headhunter, or Rachel; Grandma; Depth Raider; Cisco Kid; Believer; Legend Perchbait; or 5 to 6” Spoonplug.
- Casting/Jigging – Magnum Bulldawg; Medusa; 9 to 10” weighted Suick; Phantom Softail; Regular Swimming Dawg; Water Wolf Shadzilla; Livingston Pounder; Depth Raider; Grandma; Bait Rigs Esox Cobra Jig with a Yamamoto Reaper or a 5-8” sucker; Ripppin’ Dawg.
- Live/Dead Baiting – 6 to 8’ glass or glass/graphite composite heavy to extra heavy, fast action rod, with a Shimano 300 to 400 series Tekota LC reel, spooled with 80 to 100 pound braid (Seaguar Threadlock or Power Pro), with a 3 to 6’ leader of 120 to 150 pound fluorocarbon, or 36” of 90 pound Berkely bronzed, braided 7 Strand wire leader, and a quickset rig with a 10 to 16” live sucker, or a 10 to 16” dead cisco, sucker, or tuillibee; ¾ to 1.5 oz Bait Rigs Esox Cobra Jig Head with a 5-9” sucker or cisco (live or dead).
- Accessories – Quickset rigs; ½ to 1.5 oz rubber core sinkers; Livingston Bullet Sound Weight; slip bobber or push spring round bobber 1.5 to 2” in diameter. Also make sure you have long-nose pliers, a quality hook cutter such as Knipex, a jaw spreader, and a muskie net.