Tactics for the giant northern pike of Lake Superior

Josh Huff with a nice Lake Superior pike.

I have spent many long days casting lures for big northern pike in Lake Superior. The pike fishery on the greatest of Great Lakes doesn’t contain tremendous numbers, and for years some have feared it could suffer from heavy fishing pressure.

That said, I don’t believe anglers will ever hurt this resource. They won’t invest the effort to land just a couple of these big fish. It’s almost like muskie fishing: long hours for just a couple of bites.

But I’m a glutton for pike punishment and will keep chasing these huge fish until I am in hospice. Once you figure them out, it gets easier to find and catch the goliath pike. Battling a 40-inch-plus pike is worth the effort. They hit like a freight train, pull like a diesel, and don’t quit until you release them.

Finding pike on Lake Superior is mainly a south shore ritual for me. I’ve caught huge pike in St. Louis Bay out of Duluth. Bark Bay in Bayfield County, Wis., has some amazing spring pike fishing where the Bark River dumps into the lake and on the west shore of the bay.

Chequamegon Bay out of Ashland, Wis., is tremendous all summer. Keweenaw and Huron bays out of L’Anse, Mich., have proven themselves rich in big pike. Wherever you have a bay with vegetation, expect opportunity for huge northern pike.

Northern pike fishing is not much different than muskie fishing except northerns rarely follow the lure. They just hit it. There is no finesse to fishing crankbaits, bucktails or topwater jerkbaits for pike.

These days my game plan has me heading into Chequamegon Bay to one of the bay’s many big cabbage beds. I cast big-lipped crankbaits and run them along and through the vegetation. I move from bed to bed casting until my arms get sore, then I set up the rod holders and troll. I’m a sucker for a big Lake Superior pike.

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