Autumn ushers in so many angling options, and one of my favorites is the fall northern pike bite. While thermocline patterns are great through turnover, the right weather can trigger feeding blitzes along shallower windswept shorelines as well.
Such was the case the other day, when daughter Emily and I ventured out on a favorite central-Minnesota lake for a little fishing.
Cool nights have helped drop the surface temperature to 67 degrees, and more pike are moving out of the main lake into a large, shallow bay to feed on abundant baitfish, including juvenile panfish. It’s worth noting that more than a few walleyes make the same pilgrimage, but that’s a story for another day.
Back to the pike. Under overcast skies, a healthy south breeze pushed a decent surface chop against the weed-rimmed north shore. Fueled by strong winds and recent heavy rains, the water clarity was low—with a white spinnerbait disappearing about 12 inches beneath the surface.
I like trolling spoons shallow in fall, but spinnerbaits run a close second. And given the turbid conditions, blades got the nod. Emily snapped a Terminator Titanium Twin Spin onto her fluorocarbon leader, while I opted for a single-bladed bait.
As she feathered the throttle for just the right trolling speed on our first pass along the wind-blown weedline, an eater-size pike exploded on Emily’s spinnerbait. It wasn’t her last strike, and she quickly convinced me to make the switch to a twin spin configuration myself. Just to be sure, we gave spoons a few chances as well, but nothing topped dual-arm spinnerbaits for triggering pike in the murk.
Besides being my perfect idea of a father-daughter date, the trip proved the power of playing to a predator’s lateral line when their sense of sight is diminished. It’s something to keep in mind as more shallow casting and trolling opportunities arise as fall progresses.