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Gator Hunting, Northern Pike

Early Season Northern Pike Action



There is no better time for catching northern pike than the post-spawn season. Post-spawn is early spring and early summer. This season is the easiest time of the year to catch giant “gators.”Northern Pike enjoy living in the cool to cold water. As summer comes on the fish will move to deeper water making them harder to catch.


In early summer pike actively live in less than ten feet of water. I concentrate on the weedy bays with scattered sand pockets. Look for the greenest weeds in the bay. These are key locations to ambush prey. I prefer fishing when there is a little wind, it breaks up the pikes’ ability to see
you. During this time of year, pike can be in large schools. I have caught twenty to twenty-five fish in a small area. Because of the concentration of fish, I will anchor or use the spot lock feature on my feature on my Minn-Kota trolling motor. Fan cast an area and if no luck adjust your boats position.

My favorite method is the slip bobber set up. A slip bobber knot, a bead, a slip bobber, weight
and a 1/0 hook. The key part of the rig is the bobber. I use a Thill Big Fish Slider. This is a
large cylindrical bobber tapered at both ends. The bobber will lay flat on the water surface when
the bait is calm. However, when a fish gets close and scares the live bait, the bobber will stand
upright alerting you to the proximity of the Northern. Northern Pike bite aggressively and
without hesitation. Once the bobber is under, I will wait ten to fifteen seconds before setting the
hook. I am trying to avoid deeply hooking the fish. The biggest key to slip bobber fishing is
remembering to reel up all the slack line before setting the hook.
The rod set up I prefer is a heavy one, a seven-foot medium heavy, teamed with a baitcasting reel
with a bait clicker spooled with twenty-pound monofilament. I do not use a steel leader I believe
that it restricts the baits movement, while spooking the fish in clear water. A bait clicker is nice
to have to indicate strikes and to hold line when the reel is in free spool for the hits that come fast
and furious.
If the pike are spooky, I have a another method to make them bite. I will allow the bait to free
swim, just a hook and nothing else. This method can be very effective. The only downside is if
the weed growth is thick it is hard to keep your bait out of the weeds.
The bait of choice for me is a medium to larger sucker. In early summer you don’t need the
largest suckers at the bait shop. I start with smaller bait and as the season goes on the size of bait
increases. Suckers have the ability to survive being cast more than a fragile golden shiner. Even
though the suckers are pretty durable, you still have to be gentle when you cast and avoid
slapping the bait on the water. In early summer with the fish in the weed flats you want to
position your sucker one to two feet above the weed growth. The greener the weed the more
success you will have.

Early summer is one of the best times to catch northern pike, they are in the shallow weedy bays
actively feeding. The “gators” are plentiful and easy to catch. Remember pike love cold water
so as the summer heats up they leave the weedy bays and head to deeper water. Always
remember big pike can be tricky to handle make sure you have a fish glove and pliers.


Dave Duwe is owner and operator of Dave Duwe’s Guide Service, featuring the lakes in
Southeastern Wisconsin.

Client of Dave Duwe’s Guide Service with a giant Delavan Lake,WI Gator

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