Be ready for big pike fishing in the next few weeks

I guess its time for to give all the non-tournament anglers a break from the bass stuff this week. It works out good too because it is prime time to catch big pike in our area lakes. This is the best time of the year to catch big fish because they have left the shallow bays for the rocks and they are hungry!
I was out on Rainy Lake a couple weeks ago with a buddy and we were actually bass fishing, but ended up getting into some really big pike and lots of them. Same thing this past week on Shoal Lake, it was unreal how many big fish we caught. The same thing will be happening on all the good pike fisheries in Sunset Country the next few weeks.
These pike are feeding on pelagic baitfish like freshwater herring and especially smelt. Most of the fish we have been catching look like their bellies are ready to explode, they are putting on the feedbag big time. So that being said, they best way to catch these fish is to imitate the bait they are eating.
Most four to six inch minnow imitations will work but the best baits for us have been #10 and #12 X-Raps. You can fish these baits really fast and rip them hard and they always run true. They cast like a bullet and come in some really realistic finishes. I like to fish these baits fast and jerk them hard so the get really erratic. This drives pike wild and entices them to strike.
Some days if they are following these baits more then they are biting them, you need to switch to a jig and plastic combination. Rig a “fluke” style, soft jerkbait up on a jig for a more subtle presentation. Five to seven inch versions work best and can generate some big bites. Sometimes you can mark fish on your electronics and drop these things down on them or you can cast them and just swim them back to the boat. If I am fishing vertical, I like to use a ½ oz jigs so they get down to the bottom a little quicker. For casting purposes I like a ¼ oz jig so it will not drop like a rock to the bottom. The Northland Slurpies Jerkshad is a good bait and comes in some really lifelike colour patterns. Berkley makes some good seven inch Gulp Models that catch big fish as well.
The best locations to find big pike this time of year are major offshore reef systems and they are even better if they are just out from a big shallow spawning bay. When I pull up to one of these spots, I like to cast reaction baits like the X-Raps first and if I start catching fish then I just stick with those. If I begin to get a lot of followers or if I’m marking fish out in deeper water, then I go to the soft jerkbaits.
Finally, one more big fish technique is to troll large, oversized crankbaits in between offshore structures. With smelt now present in a lot of our large bodies of water, big pike spend a lot of time suspended, chasing schools of them in open water.
Trolling large baits like the deep-diving X-Rap 30 is not a numbers game, but it produces big fish. Most deep diving musky baits will work as well.
Look for the report on the Bassin’ For Bucks tournament in Sioux Narrows next week!

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