When Chasing Trophy Pike…think BIG

One thing I’ve learned over the course of 20-years chasing trophy pike is the best fishing water all have one ingredient incommon…. they are all huge.

Big water isn’t a requirement for catching trophy pike, not by a long shot. Smaller lakes and rivers will produce trophies every year. But, what I’m talking about is water with the potential of catching a trophy on EVERY cast.

Eventually, if you develop a passion for trophy pike, you end up chasing them in places where your next trophy is just a cast away. Searching for trophy pike in these terms will lead you to Canada and its iconic lakes and rivers. They rise to the surface like a mayfly on a warm June day in Northwest Ontario.

Big Pike Water

Three Canadian provinces and a territory come immediately to mind. First and foremost Saskatchewan’s Reindeer, Wollaston and, Athabasca lakes, plus the Churchill River. In Manitoba you’ve got Nueltin, and Kississing lakes, Cranberry Portage, and the North Seal and Little Churchill rivers. In Ontario look no further than the northeast corner of Lac Seul, Lake St Joseph and the English River and in the Northwest Territory is the mighty Mackenzie River, Great Salve and Kasba Lakes.

Some of these waters are so big in fact; the lodges on their shores actually provide daily fly-outs to reach remote areas of the same lake! This is a partial list of course. But, if you drew up a pike fishing bucket list it would be a good start.

I’ve fished many of these areas and here are my top tips for chasing trophy pike on big water:

  • Use muskie tactics when fishing for trophy pike in Canada, be sure to include large crankbaits, bucktails and spoons. Bring varying sizes of each.
  • Concentrate on the largest, freshest cabbage beds you can find and the deep water out front. If there is current nearby that is even better.
  • Look for steep drop-offs and open water humps and work them with shallow running baits…big pike will come out of 20 plus feet of water to hit fast moving, erratic baits.
  • In mid-summer, don’t be afraid to retrieve spoons and bucktails as fast as you can retrieve them.
  • Sharpen your hooks every time you change lures, dull hooks will cost you a trophy.
  • Big pike hang together, especially in big lakes, if you catch a throphy keep casting there’s more.
  • Use braided line, and set-the-hook with everything you’ve got…it’s difficult to get a solid hookset with the stretch of monofilament.
  • Retie leaders several times a day, braided line can fray and break. If you don’t, you’ll be lucky to only loose a lure.
  • Set your drag properly, many anglers set it too tight, test your drag frequently.
  • Trophy pike will freely take out line with a properly set drag, do not tighten your drag while fighting a big fish!
  • Keep the boat organized, tackle boxes closed and net ready…because when you hook a trophy all hell is going to break loose!
  • Respect big water, especially in the wilderness, if you have trouble there is no help coming and you’ll need to save your own life. Wear your lifejacket when the boat is moving, have a good first aid kit with a suture and know how to use it.
  • Most lodges and resorts post a weather forecast, read it closely, and pay particular attention to the wind forecast as wind might be the biggest threat of all to your safety.

Fishing for trophy pike doesn’t have to be expensive; many trophy waters can be reached by car. Granted, it’s a long drive, but well worth the effort. Some of these can be fished for as little as $500 to $1,000 per week for housekeeping and go all the way up to $1,000 per day for a 5 star fly-in lodge in Canada’s far north.

Wherever you choose to chase trophy pike, at home or on the road, start by looking for the biggest lakes and rivers you can find.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on top trophy pike waters, post your favorites here.


Editors Note: Joel Prunty is the president of Fishulo,llc and is passionate about using his expertise in Canadian wilderness travel  to assist anglers and hunters in planning adventures. Over a 20 year association with a Canadian fishing and hunting sportshow producer, Joel visited over 300 of Canada’s BEST lodges, resorts and outfitters.  He currently sits on the Marketing Advisory Council for Tourism Saskatchewan and was previously named the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters Association‘s (NOTO) member-of-the-year.

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