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Whether you are an experienced angler or just getting started, northern pike fishing can be a rewarding and exciting experience. Pike is right along the lines of fishing for muskie, so you may want to try your hand at both!

Learn the basics of this type of fishing with tips and tricks on how to select the right bait, equipment, techniques, and more.

With this guide, you’ll be catching pike in no time!

You may also like: How To Fish – The Ultimate Guide To Fishing For Beginners

Northern pike, on fishing net after catching.

Northern Pike Fishing


When it comes to fishing, few experiences can match the thrill of catching Northern Pike. These powerful and aggressive predators are famous for their hard strikes and fierce fights, putting even skilled anglers to the test.

To reel in a pike, you’ll need to look for them lurking in shallow waters or hiding in weed beds.

With the right equipment and techniques, you’ll be able to have an exciting and rewarding day on the water catching these impressive fish.

For fishing enthusiasts looking for a good challenge, Northern Pike can offer just that.

To lure in these predators, many anglers suggest using strong gear and hooks as they have sharp teeth and strong jaws. Live bait or flashy lures are also popular choices to attract these carnivorous fish.

Keep in mind the time of day and weather conditions before heading out on your pike fishing trip, as pike tend to be more active during low light conditions such as early morning or late afternoon, and less active during hot, sunny days.

Learning the best time to fish should be taken into consideration.

With a bit of patience and luck on your side, reeling in a trophy-sized Northern Pike is definitely possible!

Northern Pike Profile


  • Scientific name: Esox lucius
  • Average size: 24 to 30 inches (60 to 75 cm) in length and 3 to 7 pounds (1.4 to 3.2 kg) in weight
  • Maximum size: can grow up to 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) in length and weigh over 50 pounds (22.7 kg)
  • Appearance: long, slender body with a pointed snout, olive-green to dark grey in color with light spots on its sides, and a white or yellowish belly
  • Habitat: freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams with vegetation and ample prey
  • Range: native to the northern hemisphere, found in North America, Europe, and Asia
  • Feeding habits: carnivorous, preys on smaller fish, insects, and small mammals
  • Breeding and reproduction: typically spawn in the spring, lay adhesive eggs in shallow waters, and males guard the eggs until they hatch
  • Importance to humans: popular sportfish and commercially fished in some areas, also plays an important ecological role as a predator. Great eating, too!
  • Conservation status: not currently considered a threatened species, although some populations have declined due to overfishing and habitat loss

Northern Pike Teeth


One thing that sets northern pike apart from other fish is their impressive set of teeth. Seriously, these things are like little razor blades, and they’re not afraid to use them if they feel threatened.

So if you’re planning to go pike fishing, it’s important to take proper precautions to protect yourself. That means investing in some heavy-duty fishing gloves and a pair of pliers to help you safely remove hooks from the fish’s mouth.

And hey, if you really want to be extra cautious, you could always go full-on medieval knight and outfit yourself in a suit of armor before hitting the water.

Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme – but seriously, don’t underestimate the power of those pike teeth.

Choose the Best Location


Location is key when it comes to northern pike fishing. Similar to fishing for bass or crappie, look for waters that are shallow, with plenty of weeds, fallen logs or reeds.

These are the types of areas where you will find northern pike lurking and waiting for their next meal.

When scouting the area look for areas with plenty of structure in the water, such as drop-offs, boulder piles or even sandbars.

It’s also important to remember that they like still water since they don’t have a swim bladder and need to conserve energy by staying motionless for long periods of time.

This is a great opportunity to practice your bank fishing or maybe not so much on the kayak fishing front as who wants to battle a toothy Northern Pike in a kayak? But a small boat isn’t a bad option to reach areas you can’t get to on foot.

If you’re having trouble finding good fishing spot for pike, consider our article Best Fishing Spots Near Me to help you find the honey hole you’ve been looking for.

Northern Pike Tackle and Equipment


When it comes to selecting your tackle, size matters! As pike are predatory fish and hunt smaller prey like minnows, your line should be able to withstand the sheer force these powerful predators can bring.

It’s ideal to opt for a medium-heavy spinning rod with a length of at least 6 feet (1.8 meters). Spool up your reel with 12-17 pound monofilament fishing line and attach a few 2/0 or 3/0 circle hooks.

Crank bait and spinner baits are great lures to use. You’ll want to make sure you choose sizes that best imitate the multiple baitfish that swim in various waters- don’t be afraid to experiment!

Also see: Spinning Reels: Advantages and Disadvantages.

9 Pieces of Gear for Catching Northern Pike


  1. Fishing rod and reel: A sturdy and strong rod and reel combo is important for catching Northern Pike, which can grow quite large. Find a fishing reel with at maximum of at least 15 pounds of drag, 25 pounds of drag is even better.
  2. Heavy line: Northern Pike have sharp teeth that can easily cut through light line, so a heavier line is necessary to avoid losing your catch. We use 15 to 20-pound braided line for 15lb drag reels, and 30 to 40-pound line for 25lb drag reels.
  3. Wire or fluorocarbon leaders: Because of their sharp teeth, Northern Pike can easily bite through traditional fishing line. Using a wire leader can help prevent lost lures and broken lines. We also use a 3 to 4-foot length of 20-40 pound fluorocarbon attached to the mainline as a leader
  4. Spinnerbaits: Spinnerbaits are an effective lure for Northern Pike because they produce a lot of vibration and flash, which can attract these predatory fish.
  5. Jigs: Jigs are another effective lure for Northern Pike, particularly when fishing in deeper water.
  6. Jerkbaits: Jerkbaits mimic the movement of injured baitfish, making them an attractive target for Northern Pike.
  7. Sunglasses: Polarized sunglasses can help you see Northern Pike in the water, which can improve your chances of catching them.
  8. Landing net: Northern Pike can be difficult to handle once they are caught, so using a landing net can make it easier to safely release them.
  9. Needle-nose pliers: Northern Pike have a mouthful of sharp teeth, so using long needle-nose pliers can help you safely remove the hook from their mouth without getting bitten.

Recommended: 5 Different Types of Fishing Rods and Best Uses

Best Baits and Lures for Pike


Knowing the right kind of baits and lures to use is essential for successful northern pike fishing.

For bait, use natural or imitation minnows, worms, frogs, leeches or small fish like shiners. Spinner baits with a vertical blade, big crankbaits, and large jerkbaits are often used to catch these predatory fish.

Sizes between 2-3 inches with a suitable hook should be sufficient, although larger ones may be needed in deeper waters.

Shop Bait Here.

Make sure your presentation is varied and unpredictable– this will keep them engaged and increase your chance at getting a bite!

Recommended: Crankbait vs Jerkbait.

Best Times of Day and Weather Conditions


The best time to fish for northern pike is early morning, just before sunrise. Northern pike are more active during this time as they emerge from their nap to hunt.

It’s important to note that the weather conditions also make a difference when trying to catch northern pike.

When it’s cloudy, they tend to be more active and you’ll likely have a better chance of catching them.

Windy or overcast days can often be best since the movement of the water stimulates them and increases their chances of biting.

Things to Avoid When Fishing for Northern Pike


There are a few common fishing mistakes you should avoid. One mistake is using the wrong bait or lure.

They can be picky eaters and may not be attracted to the same baits as other fish species. To increase your chances of success, it’s important to use lures specifically designed for northern pike such as spinners, spoons, jigs, and crankbaits.

Old lures that have been worn out won’t be as effective and may even deter them from biting.

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Northern Pike Fishing: Final Thoughts


All in all, northern pike fishing is an experience like no other.

Whether you’re out on the open water, casting your line into the shallows, or waiting patiently for a bite in your cozy ice fishing hut, there’s something truly exhilarating about the pursuit of these toothy predators.

And while the thrill of the catch is definitely a big part of the fun, there’s also something to be said for just being out in nature, enjoying the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.

So if you’re looking for a new fishing adventure to try out, grab your gear, hop in your boat, and head out to your local northern pike hotspot. Who knows – you just might come back with a whopper of a fish tale to tell.

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