Those toothy creatures that come from out of the blue when you least expect them, get me into a frenzy.
I was in northern Manitoba when I came down with “Pike Fever”, that’s is not to be confused with “Beaver Fever” (Giardia), but it pretty much has the same effect. I was fishing for walleye in about eight feet of water using a ¼ oz jig tipped with the belly skin of a white fish I had just caught. Actually, the belly skin is a great bait because:
- It has the feeling of a fish
- It has the taste of a fish
- It takes a beating no other bait could withstand.
As I said, I was in about eight feet of water casting toward shore which wasn’t even close, but the secret was that I found a drop off that went from eight to sixteen feet of water. I found this to be the ideal spot for 20 to 24-inch walleye. I was using a pop method of fishing the drop off. Throw it into the shallow water and then pop the rod creating a lift effect and then letting the bait settle to the deeper water. Think of it as though you’re trying to walk the bait down a stairway. Each pop takes you down until you get to the bottom of the channel. As you pop the rod let the bait fall under a slack line but watch the line. If it moves at all, something has taken your bait. It seems the bigger the fish is, the subtler the take is.
Once you get to the bottom you are through all of the what I would call productive water for walleye. Now comes the fun part. As you retrieve the bait also use a pop, stop and go retrieve until you get to the boat. Just before you take your bait out of the water give yourself about 10 inches of slack at the end of the rod and then make an exaggerated figure eight two or three times. This erratic movement will often cause the barracuda of the north, that may have been following your bait, to strike at the lure.
Now this is where the fun begins. Since you have such a short line and the pike is sure to run with the bait, always keep your drag loose enough that it will almost free spool when it runs. Usually, it will go for 30-40 yards and then try to eat what they’ve just caught. This gives you a moment to tighten the drag a little before the next run takes place. After about two or three runs they’re tired out and you’ve got yourself shore lunch.
I usually use 4 to 8-pound test with a steel leader. These are evil fish and have teeth in their mouth, on their gills and if they have it their way, in your hand. As you bring them along side your boat, never lip them but rather net them or if you use your hand to grab them right behind their eyes and squeeze.
The biggest I caught using this method was a 42 ½ inch northern that tipped the scale at 24 pounds.
It’s fun, try it …you’ll like it.