Finally Fall Fishing Northern Pike!
Fishing in the fall had always been something I read about in magazines and watched on fishing shows, but never able to experience first hand. Generally I'd fish over 50 days a year, but these days were highly concentrated around school vacations. Now after 20 years of education and 4 years of post graduate training life looked more promising for a fall fishing adventure.
As with all new adventures much planning and self education is required for success. I started reading everything I could lay my eyes on regarding fishing the fall bite. After a few trips to Outdoor World and hundreds of dollars spent on large swim-baits and crank-baits I was certain I had what was needed to put some fish in the boat.
The Horizon Airlines pilot announced we'd be arriving at the Edmonton International Airport in a few minutes. Gazing out the window I could see the John Deere combines working the fields and fall colors on the trees. The weather had been great and the first cold weather was set to hit while I was in town. This was fine with me since everything I had read stated a cooling trend in weather turns fall fish on the chew.
My target fish of choice was northern pike as I'd never really caught much over an 8 lb pike in open water. Pinehurst Lake in North East Alberta has always been a favorite lake to catch summer walleye and monster northern pike through the ice. I figured given the presence of large pike in the winter this would probably be our best bet to hook into a dandy. Keep this in mind if you are after trophy fish, you have to fish waterways known to hold them.
The weather report said we could expect a high of 4 degrees C, wind, overcast and rain showers throughout the day. We geared up and put a tarp on the 12 foot aluminum boat. Dressing appropriate to survive a day like this is key. Layer your clothes, wear a rain suit and don't forget to wear something warm on your feet like winter boots or insulated rubber boots. This will make all the difference on those cold fall fishing days.
We launched and started to troll large crank-baits on the south shore along deep water rocky points. These are known fish holding structures in the summer and fall. As the weeds die off the small bait-fish will move to these rocky areas to find cover from predatory fish. Naturally the walleye and large pike are drawn here in search of food. After a few minutes of trolling my dad hooked the first pike of the day, but far from a monster.
Shallow weed lines and reeds can also hold large fish as the waters cool to temperatures that large pike can tolerate while in search for a meal. We next headed across the lake to a very large weed bed and cast large crank-baits. This seemed to be the ticket as we started having explosive strikes and hookups on hard fighting northern pike. I knew we were on the fish and it was only time until we found a big one.
Slow retrieving a 6" jointed crank along the surface was drawing some great strikes. Then it happened. I could see a freight train of a fish streaking towards my lure and inhale it. The line zipping across the water and off my reel, then NOTHING! What happened? I reeled up the excess line and found my 30 pound fluorocarbon leader had broke. This brings me to another tip. When fishing for these toothy critters it is a good idea to use a steel leader or if using fluorocarbon use at least a 100 pound leader. I found this out the hard way and that pike was now carrying an expensive lure as jewelry.
We caught many more pike before evening approached and my dad started to suggest we head back across the lake closer to the boat launch. I suggested we try trolling along the reeds where we had seen a lot of white fish surfacing. Since big pike eat whites and tulibee I figured there must be some lurking. I cast out the lure and pumped the rod as we trolled along. BAM! another big hit on the line and this time the fish is pulling drag. I slowly coerce her up to the surface some 50 yards away and notice this fish has a wake, not the usual spiraling snot rocket on the surface. Soon the big fish was beside the boat and into the awaiting landing net. It really happened, a big pike! My fall fishing dreams had really come true. We snapped a few pictures and video before letting the large female pike swim away for another day.
What a great end to another awesome fishing adventure. I think I have a new addiction that will have to wait until next fall! Till then check out these pictures and video of the day.
http://www.youtube.com/v/eMyBJtMuudk?autohide=1&version=3&attribution_tag=by_6mQG05IM3f-z6nBT-NA&feature=share&autoplay=1&showinfo=1&autohide=1CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO OF THE REST OF THE PINEHURST ACTION, COULDN'T GET IT TO SHOW UP.