One thing I've learned over the course of 20-years chasing trophy pike is that the best fishing waters all have one ingredient in common…. 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'll crave chasing them in places where your next trophy could be just a cast away. Searching for trophy pike in these terms will undoubtedly lead you to Canada. A place with iconic lakes and rivers where pike rise to the surface like a mayflies on a warm June day.
Big Pike Water
Three Canadian provinces and a territory come immediately to mind with thinking big pike water. First and foremost Saskatchewan's Reindeer, Wollaston, and Athabasca lakes. Also, any Pike fisherman would be foolish to forget the the Churchill River. In Manitoba you've got Nueltin, and Kississing lakes and Cranberry Portage, 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. Also, within 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're looking to draw up a pike fishing bucket list, it would be a great 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 within your tackle. Also, bring varying sizes of each.
- Concentrate on the largest, freshest cabbage beds you can find and pinpoint the deep water out front. If there is current nearby that's 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 reel them in.
- Sharpen your hooks every time you change lures, dull hooks may cost you a trophy.
- Big pike hang together, especially in big lakes. If you catch a throphy, keep casting as there's likely more.
- Use braided line, and set-the-hook with everything you've got. It's difficult to get a solid hook-set with the stretch of monofilament.
- Re-tie 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. Make sure to test your drag frequently to ensure its at the correct resistance.
- 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. When you hook a trophy, I can guarantee all hell is going to break loose!
- Respect big water, especially in the wilderness. If you have trouble here, there is no help close-by and you will need to save your own life. Wear your life-jacket when the boat is moving and have a good first aid kit with a suture that you know how to use.
- 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. On the other end of the spectrum, some trips 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, feel free to post to the link below!
To begin planning your next Canadian excursion, visit our Adventure Match to find the perfect lodge to suit your personal fishing or hunting preferences.
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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