Sunday, February 22, 2009
Top-water lures and baits for northern pike
There are times when northern pike will strike top-water lures and it's always a thrill to have these big gamefish come swirling and thrashing to the surface.
Usually the best conditions for using top water lures is when there is no wind and the lake's surface is like a mirror. This lets the top water bait send out ripples and wakes that alert these big predators that there is something swimming on the surface.
The most commonly used lures are the Suick, Zara Spook, buzz baits and any floating crankbait model. I've also taken pike on Hula Poppers, imitation frogs and other bass lures.
It's a slower method of fishing than casting spoons or in-line spinners because you need to "work" the bait back to the boat. This can mean switching your rod left and right and pausing on the retrieve to let the lure pop back to the surface.
You are trying to imitate a fish that is in its last throes that periodically floats to the top and then tries kicking a little more, or a small critter that is swimming for its life.
Many times the best way to trigger a strike from some behemoth lurking in the weeds is to just let the lure lay motionless on the water for several minutes, then give the bait a twitch or make it move a couple of feet.
Don't be surprised if you get more strikes than hook-ups when fishing with top-water lures.
Northern pike seem to frequently miscalculate where the lure actually is, I think because they strike the mirror image of the lure as seen from underneath the surface. Whatever the reason they often make a powerful swirl that sends the bait flying into the air.
But you do catch some too and the unexpected emergence of these enormous gamefish into our world above water is an unforgettable experience.
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