Top tactics for when big pike go on a feeding frenzy
It is a toss-up for me whether I like smallmouth bass or trophy pike better when it comes to fishing fresh water. They both provide just enough challenge when trying to coerce them into biting, and when they do commit, they both put up a big fight. I will admit though, it’s a dream-come-true when the big pike rampage and the action is steady.
You have to be on the right water to get into a pike rampage. We’re talking a lake, river, or reservoir that has huge northern pike and lots of them. These conditions exist on many Canadian lakes, some of the big lakes in Minnesota, Lake Superior, the Mississippi River, and some of the Dakota lakes and reservoirs. There are few lakes in the southern United States that carry monster pike so the north country is where the best waters exist.
You never know for sure when the pike rampage will happen. Generally the huge pike are shallow in the spring and fall, and they are roaming that shallow water feeding. Then again, I have been in big-pike water in the middle of summer and ran into schools of hungry pike that would hit anything you throw at them.
It’s timing, really. If you spend enough time on big-pike water you will be there when the big pike go on a feeding binge. These binges don’t last for days or weeks; they last for hours. You can be in the middle of a pike rampage and the next day not get a bite in the spots where the fish were ballistic the day before.
Fast-moving lures are the way to go when in the middle of a pike rampage. Spinnerbaits, inline bucktail spinners, heavy jigs with twister tails all work well. I shy away from crankbaits because there are just too many hooks but will modify them when they are the go-to lure.
I should share a couple of my epic pike rampages.
I was on a lake in Canada, Makoop, with Tom Brown. The lake had not received any serious fishing pressure, and I was using a brown Blue Fox No. 5 inline spinner with two of the three hooks removed from the original treble hook. Pike from 28 to 45 inches were chasing this lure on every cast, three or four at a time and crushing it. I finally cut off the single hook and was still landing pike that would get their teeth tangled in the bucktail and not let go of the lure.
Another epic pike rampage was on Lake Superior in the fall of 2016. Josh Huff and I were on the Pamida Hump in Chequamegon Bay. We took some huge suckers out and we were going to suspend the bait under bobbers, but the pike were too aggressive to waste time on live bait. We removed the treble hooks from some No. 11 Rapalas and put one single hook on the middle eye. We casted to the sand on top the hump and retrieved it to the outer rim of cabbage. When the lure would hit that weed edge big pike would explode out of the vegetation and crush the lure. All of this in shallow, clear water.
You often hear of pike rampages in sentences that end in, “… and it was phenomenal.” For those who have been on the water at the right time, that is a good description.