Fly Fishing for Summer Northern Pike
Most of the time when you think about fishing for pike, northern pike to me more specific, ice fishing is most likely what comes to mind. But one of the greatest thrills is casting out your fly line and snagging a record northern pike on the end of your fly rod. Switching up traditional gear used in fishing for northern and opting for fly fishing gear may rejuvenate the thrill of catching pike. The most common time for pike fishing tends to be in the ice-out stage which limits the amount of time an angler has to fish for pike, but use fly fishing gear and you can extend the northern pike fishing season well into the summer.
When the weather heats up over the summer months these big northern pike will strategically place themselves at the deep drop-offs in order to stay in the cooler waters and will move up to feed in the early morning hours as well as in the late afternoon. When presenting lures to the northern pike, intentionally place the flies parallel to the edge of weeds so that you are able to intersect the pike on their natural way to feed.
One of the most exciting aspects in fishing for northern pike is that the fish are very visual. Sight fishing is a very interactive approach to fishing and since the northern lay in the water like logs and wait for their meal to come within reach, it is very easy for anglers to keep an eye on their catch. You can see the northern pike sitting, waiting, watching for prey to pass and all an angler needs to do is figure out which end of the fish means business and cast your fishing line accordingly. Pike in general, but more specifically northern pike, are ferocious when it comes to feeding time and will strike on almost anything within reach.
Patterning a northern pike’s habits is a sure fire way to get in some good fly fishing. The life cycle of the northern pike is simple to understand making them a very easy species to pattern. Put simply, they spawn and then attack. Spawning duties start to occur when the ice starts to melt and the temperatures begin to warm. Sometimes anglers can find that the spawning northern pike are breeding under the ice in water temperatures between 39 and 52 degrees, but more than likely when the water reaches spawning temps, the northern pike will gradually move into flooded marshes and streams where the females will lay nearly 100,000 eggs.
Once the spawning period for the northern pike is over, their focus shifts to busting their belts. Eating is a top priority for the post-spawn northern pike since high food intake is essential to any size of northern pike. So how do you catch northern pike all summer long? Many anglers may be of the mindset that cool water fish will be hanging low in deep waters, but when fly fishing for northern pike success is tied more to the location and fishing spot. Cool streams and inlets are often overlooked in the world of fly fishing for northern pike, yet are home to northerns year round. When scouting for a great place in the streams and inlets, drop your fly fishing line into areas that have a forage base and the right temperature to hold fish. Once the northern pike find an ideal spot to lie, you can bet they will be there the entire summer. If you can find a lake that is fed by cool streams you might have hit the jackpot; northern pike will post up near the mouth of the stream.
Tackle is not much different when fly fishing for northern pike. But there are some subtle changes. It is absolutely necessary to have a wire leader when casting for northern pike and the more flexible the better for those anglers who are not into all the fancy knots. Opt for lines and leaders in the 26-pound test size and if knots are not a problem for you, a 12 to 20 pound mono and tie on wire is not a bad option either. If the second choice is more up your alley, use a single strand wire, roughly size 3 and at least 12 inches long.
When talking about presentation, there are two highly effective ways to approach fly fishing for northern pike. Experimentation is key, but if you follow some simple guidelines, success is pretty much secured. Cooler waters call for anglers to slow down a bit, while the warmer waters call anglers to strip faster. The early summer months like June require faster stripping because the northern pike are more apt to hit a disturbance with color and movement, while during the colder months northern pike are more sluggish and don’t mover very quickly. Either time of year, anglers must put the fly or lure right in front of the pike’s face and be patient.
Flies are one of the most critical components to your northern pike fly fishing experience. There are two flies that will do well when approaching and casting for northerns. There are some divers that are ideal for the 1-4 feet depth presentations but sometimes it is necessary for bend-back pattern if the fish are resting a little deeper. Lucky for norther pike anglers, feathers, which are becoming harder to come by, do not last long when fishing for northerns. Opting to use synthetic materials that do not absorb water is ideal and make sure that they are in bright colors. Most of the time, fly fishers will use these synthetic options for 20 fish, stretching the life span of the fly from 3 to 4 fish. Summertime northern fishing will require a sinking line especially when fishing the bend-back fly or along the weeds. The northern waters that are ideal homes for the northern pike are typically tea color water making yellow and orange flies the best option in terms of color since they will be more visible.
When choosing a rod for fly fishing northern pike, reach for a 9- to 10- weight fly fishing rod for the larger flies and larger fish. Anglers will need the back bone of these stiffer rods when a 20-pounder is playing you in the weeds.
Have you ever been fly fishing for northern pike? What has worked for you? Share with other anglers by leaving a comment below on the outdoor news section and find all your fishing sporting goods needs at PoorFish Outdoors.