Northern pike fishing is a popular pastime for many anglers, and for a good reason. Known for their voracious appetites and aggressive strikes, the northern pike can provide an exhilarating experience for anyone looking to hook into a trophy fish. While many anglers associate northern pike with shallow, weedy lakes and bays, they can also be found in rivers. This article will discuss some strategies for targeting northern pike in rivers, including recommended gear and techniques.
Understanding Northern Pike in Rivers
Before we dive into the specifics of targeting northern pike in rivers, it’s important to have a basic understanding of northern pike. Northern pike is predatory fish that is well-suited to living in rivers. They can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures and are often found in areas with currents, such as eddies and deep holes. In addition, northern pike is known for their aggressive feeding behavior and will strike at anything resembling prey, including lures and bait.
When targeting northern pike in rivers, it’s important to understand the fish’s behavior patterns. Northern pike is ambush predators that rely on stealth and surprise to catch their prey. They will often lie in wait near structures or cover, such as submerged rocks or weed beds, and then attack when their prey comes within striking distance. In rivers, northern pike will often congregate near areas of current, waiting for prey to be swept toward them.
Recommended Gear for Northern Pike Fishing in Rivers
When targeting northern pike in rivers, having the right gear is important. Here are some recommendations:
- Rod: A medium-heavy to heavy-action rod is recommended for northern pike fishing in rivers. Look for a fishing rod at least 7 feet long with a sensitive tip to help detect strikes.
- Reel: A baitcasting reel is recommended for northern pike fishing in rivers. Look for a reel with a high gear ratio and a solid drag system to help you reel in big fish.
- Line: A braided line with a test strength of at least 20 pounds is recommended for northern pike fishing in rivers. The braided line is strong and abrasion-resistant, making it ideal for fishing around structure and cover.
- Lures: Many different types of lures can be effective for northern pike in rivers. Spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and swimbaits are all excellent options. Look for lures that mimic the prey that northern pike feeds on in the area.
- Tackle: Having the correct terminal tackle is crucial when using lures. A wire leader is recommended to prevent the northern pike from biting through your line. Use a swivel to attach your leader to your mainline and a snap to attach your lure to your leader.
Techniques for Targeting Northern Pike in Rivers
Now that you have the right gear let’s discuss some techniques for targeting northern pike in rivers.
- Cast Near Structure and Cover: Northern pike in rivers will often congregate near areas of structure and cover, such as submerged logs, rocks, and weed beds. Cast your lure near these areas and retrieve it slowly, keeping it near the bottom.
- Use the Current to Your Advantage: Northern pike in rivers will often use the current to their advantage when hunting for prey. Look for areas of current, such as eddies and current breaks, and cast your lure upstream. Allow the lure to drift downstream with the current, then retrieve it slowly, keeping it near the bottom.
- Vary Your Retrieve: Northern pike can be picky about their prey, so it’s important to vary your retrieve when fishing. Try different retrieval speeds, pauses, and jerks to see how the fish respond.
- Use Live Bait: While lures can be effective for northern pike in rivers, live bait can be even more enticing. Minnows, suckers, and crayfish are all good options. Use a slip sinker rig with a wire leader and cast your bait near areas of structure and cover.
- Fish at Dawn and Dusk: Northern pike are most active at dawn and dusk when the light is low. Try fishing during these times for the best chance of hooking into a trophy fish.
- Troll with Crankbaits: Trolling with crankbaits can effectively cover a lot of water and locate northern pike in rivers. Use a trolling motor or drift with the current, and vary your speed until you find what works best.
- Jig Near Drop-offs: Northern pike in rivers will often congregate near drop-offs and sudden changes in depth. Try jigging with soft plastic bait near these areas to entice a strike.
As with any fishing, prioritizing safety is essential when targeting northern pike in rivers. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Wear a Life Jacket: When fishing in rivers, wearing a life jacket is essential. The currents can be strong and unpredictable, and a life jacket can save your life in an accident.
- Use a Landing Net: Northern pike can be difficult to handle, and their sharp teeth can cause injury. Use a landing net to land the fish and safely minimize the risk of injury.
- Handle Fish Carefully: Avoid damaging their gills or internal organs when handling northern pike. Instead, use a pair of pliers to remove hooks and release the fish quickly and gently.
- Respect Other Anglers: You may encounter other anglers when fishing in rivers. Be respectful of their space and avoid crowding or interfering with their fishing.
Northern pike fishing in rivers can be a thrilling and rewarding experience for any angler. However, understanding the fish’s behavior patterns, using the right gear and techniques, and prioritizing safety can increase your chances of hooking into a trophy fish. Whether you’re casting near structure and cover, trolling with crankbaits, or jigging near drop-offs, there are many ways to target northern pike in rivers. So grab your gear and hit the water – the next trophy fish could be just a cast away.