I'm going fishing next week. Late September and October are wonderful times to be on the water almost anywhere in the Midwest chasing walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and panfish. On the fishing trip I have in mind, however, those species will all be safe: we're going after northern pike.

Pike are very susceptible under certain conditions in the spring, but in some bodies of water, they're even more susceptible now. I've chased pike in October from Devil's Lake in North Dakota to Little Bay de Noc in Michigan with other memorable stops on outstanding pike waters like Lake Winnibigoshish in north central Minnesota. When we hit it right, the action is world-class. Here's how you can get in on the pike catching in October.

Northern-Pike-FishingFirst thing: you need to be on good pike water. Just like with any lake or river or reservoir, some lakes produce good pike fishing, some don't. Some lakes have lots of small, skinny pike, others produce the big guys. Typically, the lakes with the smaller pike won't produce the big ones. Big pike come from lakes that are home to oily baitfish like tullibee. Pike that eat tullibee get big because these baitfish provide the protein or whatever it takes to grow big fish.

Pike fishing is so good in the fall because of the movements of these bait fish. They're fall spawners. During the summer months they're out in the deep water, often suspended and not relating to anything other than water temperatures. The northern are running with them. Because of their wandering tendencies, it's tough to find them and catch them.

This time of the year, the tullibee move into their spawning areas, and the pike are right there with them. They are much more accessible to anglers because of this. During the summer they could be almost anywhere: Now they're hanging out in certain areas and they're looking for something to eat, which makes them easier to catch.
In some lakes, deeper weedbeds will hold lots of pike. In other lakes they like rocks. A little breeze is better than no breeze. With a little wind they'll be shallower, with a lot of wind they'll often slide a tad deeper.

We're after big fish, so we're going to be using big baits. We can fish fairly fast in late September and into mid-October, but when the water gets really cool in late October, you'll want to slow down a bit.

It's a good idea to have one angler throwing a spinnerbait like a Bionic Bucktail or the new in-line Bird-Shot Bucktail. Someone else in the boat should throw a crankbait like the largest Salmo Perch or Sting. Sometimes the fish like the flashier spinnerbait better, sometimes they prefer the crankbait; much of the time they don't care. The best fishing comes when they don't care.

I use a Cabela's Tournament ZX Flippin' rod to throw these baits. I team this with Sunline SX1 Braid in forty pound test. This combination seems to do a very good job.

If you live near good pike water, you should take advantage of this fishing opportunity. If you don't, you should hook the boat up and go somewhere where this opportunity does exist. If you hit it right, you'll be glad you did. A good pike bite is truly a memorable thing.

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