The Secret To Autumn Pike Fishing

Big Tube Jigs for Autumn Pike

Shorter days and cooling water are signals to northern pike that
autumn has arrived. During fall, these sleek predators will feed
heartily to pack on energy reserves to help them survive winter’s
hardships. There are few better ways to catch pike in cold-water
than using big profile jigs, and giant tubes are a particularly
productive bait.

Pike Locations from Early Fall to Ice Up

Fall is very much a time of transition. At the start of autumn
pike will still relate to healthy weeds but as shallow plants die
look for northerns in deeper vegetation zones. Tributaries and
the mouths of feeder streams on rivers are also good late season
spots as baitfish stage in these areas. Sharp breaks where walleye hold will also attract pike, which will eat walleye any chance they get. Rock-gravel reefs and points adjacent to deep water are good whitefish and cisco (lake herring) spawning grounds. These two prey species spawn between November and December, so these structures make prime late-fall pike spots. Current areas also attract pike year round. As an example, on lakes the narrows between shore and an island often has wind-induced current travelling through it. This pushes in baitfish and pike follow. A particularly productive zone in
autumn, however, is the tail water below river and reservoir
dams. Baitfish congregate here in numbers as do walleye and
sauger. Northerns wait in ambush in current breaks like eddies,
outwash holes, and deep pools.  

Basic Tube Jigs Tips

Big tube jigs between five and seven inches are a supreme autumn bait. The bait’s thickness also appeals to northerns stocking up on calories. When pike are sluggish as a result of cold water
these baits also have just enough action to get fish interested.
Their multi-filament appendages wave at the slightest movement
and are deadly at triggering bites when pike are sluggish. Tubes
are outstanding lures to work on swimming retrieves. Pumping the
rod tip during the retrieve will add either a side-to-side twitch
or an up-and-down bob to the tube depending on its rigging.

When fishing tubes near bottom, be alert and keep a feel on the
bait at all times as it sinks. Tubes fall in a shimmy or a spiral
that imitates a dying fish and pike often strike during the initial
drop. Once on bottom you can use either a lazy, lift-drop swim or
a drag-pause retrieve.

Hooking Followers

Fall fish can be lazy and follows are common. The best scenario
is spotting an aggressive fish a distance from the boat. In this
case, try speeding up the retrieve or adding some snaps. This
imitates escape-moves and sometimes triggers bites. If the fish
appears lazy, slow the retrieve slightly. If working the bait
along bottom add pauses or experiment with the length of drags.
Slow twitches that impart an escape-like dart to tubes can also
evoke strikes. If you spot a following pike close to the boat
while your jig is travelling upwards, letting out line so the
jig falls is your best option.

Tackle Tips

Rig tube jigs using a long-shank jig head. Large baits featuring
a wide body cavity will accommodate a range of jig head styles.
Also, adding a stinger treble hook on a wire leader to large
seven inch tubes can help with hook-up rates when pike bite short. Big tubes demand heavy gear. I use heavy-power baitcast outfits. For deep water applications, I like rods to be at least seven feet,
but I prefer seven-and-a-half feet for better line control when
drifting and moving line for deep water hook sets.

This autumn try casting tube jigs around deep weed edges and
rocky structures. This non-traditional tactic is a great way to
boat bragging sized northern pike.