Northern Pike and Chain Pickerel
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 at 4:04 pm
The chain pickerel doesn’t get much press. He seldom graces the cover of BassMaster Magazine or Field & Stream and certainly
isn’t the topic of conversation at the Sunset Grille during Sunday morning breakfast. Let’s face it, he’s not the most glamorous fish in the lake, but he certainly has something to offer to summer anglers. So, let’s pretend you are a pickerel. You sit perfectly still in your favorite weed bed: it’s warm, weedy, and four of your best friends are hanging out with you. Your only concern is that darn osprey that’s overhead or maybe a big, hungry northern pike. Despite quietly minding your own business, you are on “red alert” waiting for your favorite food to cruise by. A few sunfish fry round your weed bed and you rocket out and
snatch one – yummy. Life is good. This is a good day to be a pickerel! Then you spot it, your arch enemy, your kryptonite – a
black jitterbug is fluttering past, just out of reach. You tell yourself not to eat it, momma said stay away from those, don’t do it . . . but in the end you simply can’t help yourself! With two huge flicks of your tail, you rocket out of your comfy weed bed and crush the top water lure. Three minutes later, some kid is holding you up and you are getting your picture taken. It’s tough to be you . .
That’s pickerel fishin’. That’s the way it works for the fish and the angler. They are abundant, they are aggressive and
they love black jitterbugs! Sometimes chain pickerel can save the day when the bass fishing is slow or the kids are
getting restless. Pickerel also love 8-inch ribbon tail worms rigged Texas style with a 3/0 worm hook. On North Pond and East Pond where the pickerel are everywhere, a purple sparkle worm works excellent during the middle of the day.
This past week saw some quirky bass fishing, but there were little complaints about the size of the fish. The smallmouth bass were active early in the morning and were aggressively hitting top water lures. It seems we catch some of our bigger fish on
top, but not as many numbers of smallies. That’s a fair tradeoff if you ask me. You can always work the shoreline side of the rock piles or the docks and moored boats to catch a bunch of smaller bass. This past week we chucked a lot of Spooks and
Sammy’s before 8 a.m. Fish them aggressively and then stop the bait for about 3-5 seconds. The bass would swirl behind the lure – one subtle flick of the bait and PRESTO! He was on. You have to cover a lot of water with this technique because you are searching out the biggest bass in the area but the rewards are worth it. A good baitcaster with decent braided line and long casts seemed to up the odds. Depending on which lake you are fishing, you might catch a big northern pike with this method too.
Summer northern pike fishing has produced a few good fish this past week. The water temperatures are pretty warm for shallow pike, but they come in during the evening hours. Live bait is always a good choice this time of year, but big stick baits and spoons always catch a few. During the daylight hours the pike move off the weeds and into 15-25 feet of water so trolling might be your best option during the heat of the season. They seem to key on submerged alewives so imitating that bait fish with a Rapala or spoon is always a good idea.
Good luck this week!