We should have more appreciation for pike

As a bass angler, pike tend to annoy me quite often because when we fish for bass, we don’t use leaders so they bite off our baits all the time.
And it seems like the more expensive the lure, the shorter its life span.
When we’re bass fishing, it’s usually the smaller pike that bite our lures and they’re the ones that bite the baits off most frequently because they take wild swings at the lures.
Those are the ones we’re going to call annoying. Bigger pike have much more precision when they strike and actually don’t bite off your tackle nearly as much.
Being a fishing guide and fishing promoter, I fish during all seasons for all the different species of fish that we have across Sunset Country. September is my favourite time of the open-water season to fish for pike simply because it’s when I catch big fish most often.
When you have a shot at big pike, you can sign me up because they are fun to catch and hold for a photo.
The title for this column comes from my girlfriend, Shelby, who has had to listen to my buddies and I whine about the pike that we catch while bass fishing on several occasions this summer. She likes to catch whatever fish will bite her line and always is hopeful a big pike will bite her lure.
She always tells us that a big pike is not far off from the prized musky that everybody wants to catch and that we should have more “appreciation for pike.”
As usual, she’s right.
The reason the fishing gets so good in September is that most of the bigger pike leave the shallow, weedy bays, where they spend much of the summer, and start to head out to main lake points and rock piles, where they focus on eating larger forage like cisco, small walleyes, and larger perch.
They know that winter is just around the corner so it’s time to start preparing for it.
If I only could use one lure, it would be an over-sized suspending jerkbait designed for bass. The exact bait that I’ve had good luck with the past few years is the Jackall Squad Minnow in the 120 size.
It’s a heavy jerkbait that you can cast a mile, plus it has a loud rattle and an aggressive action, so you can capture the attention of pike from a good distance. Any of the natural minnow colours will work.
The #14 Rapala X-Rap is a great bait, as well. And since you’re fishing for pike, use a leader for sure!
You can cast these types of baits and then retrieve them with a jerk-jerk-pause cadence, or you can troll them over larger pieces of structure, jerking them every so often.
The benefit to casting is you can make multiple casts over high percentage areas like the tips of points or over sharp drops, but trolling allows you to cover more water and find potential sweet spots.
Some days trolling works better, but I have a few sweet spots that kick out fish year after year and casting is the most effective way to fish those spots.
In our part of Ontario, regulations have changed recently so all pike over 27 inches in length must be released. In the long run, it’s a good thing because it’s going to allow more pike to reach trophy size and we all like to see those!
Those smaller pike are great to eat; they just take some practice to learn how to extract the y-bones that are found in the upper part of the fillets.
Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods, as well as many of the smaller inland lakes, offer fantastic pike fishing throughout September.
So if you want to have some fun in the coming weeks, get yourself a few larger jerkbaits and hit as many main lake rocky points and reefs as you can. You won’t be disappointed.