Fall River Pike - Methods That Work For Me
Over the past couple autumns when the bass shut down I've been doing a lot of river fishing for pike. It's the only thing around here within walking distance or some other spots within short driving distance. These Northern Pike feed on small minnows, chubs, perch and will even turn to cannibalism if the pickings get slim. I've found the floating Rapalas work best because you can cast them out and start reeling and stop and twitch it and work it around without worrying about bottom snags in deeper holes.
Always try and match the hatch. I try and stick to the perch colour and blue or grey minnows because they create the most aggressive strikes it seems like. Also not seen in this picture is a white 4 inch white X-Rap which I lost due to mis-casting near some logs. The white seems to create strikes on those slow days when they get too cold or lazy to move around. The more shallow diving jointed Rapalas are awesome for casting into rapids and just letting them do their own thing as you reel up very slowly. Sometimes you can even pause and let the current keep taking them down into shallow holes and around rocks. Don't get too excited though you will get a lot of bottom taps fishing rapids where the lure bounces of rocks and feels like a fish hits.
Sometimes walking off the main trail and finding your own spots really pays off. With the floating Rapala you can cast out to the opposite side of the river and let it float down under low hanging branches you can't normally cast to. By doing this and even twitching it along the way to the desired spot where you are going to start reeling back in always triggers awesome top water hits and the fish will normally come right out of the water. Low under hanging branches are always one of the top hiding spots for lurking pike because they create tonnes of moving shadows underwater and the pike can camouflage right into its surroundings.
Once winter hits and the days get shorter and colder these floating Rapalas are key to getting slow moving pike to strike a free meal. Find a nice spot in the river where there is some structure like logs, rocks, or a nice big eddy and it is calm and slower moving. Cast down river and just let it sit there for about 20- 30 seconds, then start twitching it once or twice and let it pause again. The current should make it have small movements while you have paused in between twitching to still give it that real natural look of a dying minnow or fish. Try different speeds of twitching and retrieving the lure and find what works best for you on that particular day.
When fishing for these toothy fish always bring a pair of long needle nose lure removing pliers like these Rapala ones in my picture. If you don't have these it could result in some First Aid procedures and some sore fingers. It could also lead to killing the fish if the lure gets deep enough you can't remove it with your daring fingers, or by the time you get it out its already to late to try and revive it if you don't want to take it home for dinner. All my fish are released fast and efficiently with no harm done with a set of pliers like this.
Some days when you can find open water on rivers in the middle of winter are the best days. I use a float method with 40lb flouro carbon 2ft leader and about 2-3 feet below my float with a nice size hook to hook into smelt or minnows. These slow moving free meals will produce a lot of pike in certain holes. Last winter alone I got over 100 pike with this method. Now depending on the hole you are fishing you may need to change the depth of your bait below your float to get it where they can see it or want to move to grab it. Live minnows and salted ones have worked the same for me so I hope you have one or the other during the slow winter fishing season to fire it up a bit with some big pike.
Hopefully you have enjoyed and learned something from my first blog like this. Happy Fishing and I hope you are successful with one or maybe all of these methods I have kind of figured out for myself. Being a country boy living in a city and sitting inside playing video games just doesn't cut it for me so I get down to the river any chance I get. I once heard you learn something new every time you go out, and so far has been proven a fact. Keep your lines wet and have a good one!! Enjoy the video of my buddy Tyler and I getting some early nice fall fishing days floating minnows and reeling in pike!!
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