Northern Pike Fishing
At Fireside Lodge in Ontario, Canada
This section will take you through the seasonal movements of
Northern Pike at Fireside Lodge in Northwest, Ontario, Canada and also the northern pike trophytechniques, presentations, and lure / fly suggestions, which have worked with consistency. The seasonal movements will be over a 12 month period for educational purposes, but keep in mind that Fireside Lodge open season is from the third Saturday in May through the second Saturday in September. With this in mind the techniques, presentations, and lures / flies used will, in most cases, be for the open season at Fireside Lodge. The main baitfish and food supply in Little Vermilion Lake System is many different minnows, crayfish, leeches, perch, white sucker, whitefish, and cisco. Please email me with any questions.
All the fishing at Fireside Lodge is catch and release so all Fireside Lodge guests will have the opportunity to experience the fabulous fishing described.
Alan Brandys / Fireside Lodge at

Pre Spawn Period: This period takes place from ice out, usually around May 7th, until the water temperatures reach about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Northern Pike are northern pike bigalready located near there spawning areas in shallow dark water bays with good sun exposure, having dark bottom material and a lot of old vegetation from the previous year. If a creek is flowing into the bay it makes it an ideal location. The Pre spawn period could last a very short time, up to about two weeks depending on water temperatures. Northern Pike are scattered throughout the bay near slight drop offs and subtle structures. At times they are very active, especially on sunny warm days as this warms the dark shallow bottom, increasing the water temperatures which helps activate the Pikes metabolism. Expect trophy northern pikesome fabulous fun action, using a variety of lures and flies. Minnow imitating twitching baits, in-line spinners, soft plastics, and spoons work well. A slower or stop and go erratic presentation is best. Also, the lures do not need to be big with smaller to medium lures getting better results. This is a unique time for Fly Fishers as sight fishing is likely, with calm conditions, and Northern Pike are very receptive to flies and the fly-fishing presentation. Slowly moving a streamer under the surface or a gurgler on the surface is hard to resist for these toothy critters. This is a special time of year, which can be very rewarding, but very dependent on weather and water temperatures.

Spawn Period: This yearly ritual occurs when the water temperatures are northern pike fishbetween 40 to 52 degrees Fahrenheit. The time period is all about the water temperatures getting 40 or above, usually happening anywhere between May 15th to May 31st. Spawning takes place in daylight hours in heavily vegetated dark bottom bays, and inlets. The larger spawning female is usually paired with one or two males. The process involves two males on either side of the female vigorously squeezing the females so the eggs come out and simultaneously males are emitting their milt, which fertilizes the eggs. This is done in very shallow water where you actually see the backs of the fish and the water splashing as this process takes place. Also, it is done in heavy vegetation, last years old stuff, so the sticky jelled eggs can be attached to the vegetation where they stay oxygenated. This is very important, otherwise the eggs would fall to the bottom, get covered in silt where they will not get oxygen, therefore never hatch.northern pike fun If all goes well the eggs will hatch in about 14 days and the small fry will get nourishment from their yolk sack, and after will feed on the plankton which is plentiful among the vegetation, and it also provides great cover from predators.
Fishing at this time can be feast and famine in the same day. The Pike take a week or two to complete this process and there are groups of fish pre spawn, spawning, and post spawn. Spawning Northern Pike are impossible to catch as they are focused on the event. But the pre and post spawn fish have very active feeding time periods, and when they turn on look out. They will hit everything thrown their way as long as it??s not too big, and presented in a slow to medium speeds. You will catch Pike of all sizes, including some of the biggest Northern Pike caught for the season. Fly fishers should not miss this action. As I said before the Pike during the pre-spawn and post spawn period are very active towards fly fishing techniques and presentations, plus it??s one of the few times to sight fish for these monsters.

Post Spawn Period: Time period takes place between third week in May to the second week in June. During this period Northern Pike start moving out of the northern pike giantspawning areas using structures as points and near shore rocks / reefs to make their way to bays that will develop weeds beds in the very near future. The process is gradual so some will be staged in or near the spawning bays, other will be along points and near shore rock structure, and some will have arrived in the bay awaiting weed growth which will bring them plentiful cover and food. When first arriving in these bays there are no weeds, so Pike will use any structure available in the form of rocks, pencil reeds, islands, mainland points, and even subtle humps and depth changes. As weeds start to pop up in various bays, even this northern pike spawnslightest up cropping of weeds will attract bait fish, and the Northern Pike will follow. This means one day nothing, and the next it seems as if someone opened the gates to let a bunch of Pike in the area. At the beginning of this period the biggest bays with large shallow areas, having good sun exposure, will produce first and then as time progresses and weeds become more established the population of Northern Pike equals out throughout all of the bays. Fishing can be great during the post spawn time period, with location flexibility needed, until immature weed beds become established in the bays. Northern Pike are hungry after the long winter and stress of the spawn. Even though the fishing can be fast and furious at times, anglers will do better if their techniques are not so fast or aggressive at times. Remember that the water is still cold, and cold-blooded creatures move faster when warm and slower when cold. A variety of lures can be productive, including in-line spinners, suspending and diving minnow imitators with twitching techniques, spoons, and soft plastics. For the fly fishers it??s simple, steamers are the selection for this time, in a variety of colors.

Summer Early Period: Takes place between second week of June and the first week in July. Weed beds become increasingly established in the larger bays and northern pike girthsmaller areas, like shoreline dips, shoreline flats, cut-ins from points, shallow areas of points, island saddles, and because of our clear water, deeper weed beds start to develop in the larger bays or weed flats. All of these areas, Little Vermilion Lakes system having hundreds of them, hold fish. With the water warming Northern Pike are getting active and aggressive so some faster retrieves and larger lures can be used. All size lures will work at this time however for those that want to put some of their tackle box weight to use, the opportunity starts during the latter part of this time period. Minnow/fish style baits (suspending and surface), crank baits, buck tails, spinner baits, wobble baits, sub surface jerk baits, swim baits, soft plastics and various jigs, and spoons all work. For Fly Fishing the best is still sub-surface streamers dressed with tinsel, divers, or specialty foam constructed flies representing white gold tone, perch, sliver blue, red white, orange white, and black works well.

Summer Period: Starts the first week in July through mid to end August depending on the weather. On normal years the weeds are very well established at the start of the period, and fully developed by the end of July. Weeds are the key at this time of year and make sure you concentrate efforts on the deeper weed beds in heavy northern pikedepths of 8 to 18 feet to catch larger fish with consistency. Major rock structures leading into bays or main lake structure can also hold very large Pike. Northern Pike at this time will feed more often than any other time of the year, simply because of their cold-blooded nature, the warmer water is making their metabolism work at a higher rate. Therefore they digest their food faster and have to forage more often. This is a time of plenty for both Northern Pike and Northern Pike fishers. Anglers sometime confuse this with reasoning that makes them believe the fish will always be aggressively feeding. Well, many times throughout this period they are and the action is great, however there are just as many times they are feeding in a more subtle way. Now, I will ask you a simple question. Do you want to catch fish most of the time or half the time? If your answer is half the time, you will be happy using fast and aggressive fishing techniques all the time. If you answer most of the time, you will divide your time between aggressive and subtler techniques. How do you know when to use aggressive or subtle techniques? The Pike will let you know when they are aggressive, and at these times apply the aggressive techniques by using lures like jerk baits, burning buck tails and spinner baits, crank baits, surface lures and any other fast moving lure that works. When the fish are not showing up with these methods it??s time to change to smaller less aggressive lures and retrieves. This means sizing down and fishing a hairless in-line spinner or spinner bait as slow fun northern pike fishingas it can go, at times having the blade fail during the retrieve. Also fishing suspending twitching baits, letting them sit at a depth for the count of 5 one thousand, or maybe even 10 one thousand. There is a whole array of soft plastics, swim baits, and jigging techniques that can be used, not only with jigs, but with spoons with a great deal of success. These all work when Northern pike are not actively feeding. Many guests over the last 20 years have been surprised at these suggestions and wonder why the Pike are in a slow feeding mood during a time when their metabolism is working faster. In trying to find a simplistic way to describe why this happens I came up with my snack or cashew theory. Here it is: If I invited you over for supper and fed you a big prime rib meal with all the fixings and 60 to 90 minutes later put another full meal in front of you, in no way would eat that meal. However, if I put a bowl of cashews nearby, you would probably eat one or two. How does this apply? Well, Northern Pike get full also, but they are opportunists. Put something small, like a cashew (jig, soft plastic, suspending bait) in front of them and keep it there long enough they will eat it. BINGO, no fish, turned into fish caught. Get it!!!! Fly fishers stick to streamers with varying retrieves, gurglers, divers, and it is by far the best time of year for both surface flies and surface lures of any type, as the water is the warmest it will be throughout the summer, and the warmer temperatures is what turns on the surface bite. For fly-fishers having a sinking line option for those deeper weeds is a good idea.

Summer End / Fall Period: Happens from the latter part of August to end of September. Northern Pike are located in very similar locations as the Summer Period. Toward the latter part of August through September there are periodic movements of larger Pike into some of the larger bays using shallower weed beds close to the spring spawning areas. Also, very large Northern Pike can be caught on rock reefs, and main lake points. All of the lures, flies, presentations and techniques during the northern pike ontarioSummer Period above work very well during this time period. The surface bite starts to diminish as the water cools down and is dependent on this variable. So, if the weather stays summer like, the surface bite will continue, sometimes right through mid-September. Also, as the water cools down more subtle techniques are used, but all you need is one warmer day and it will trigger an aggressive feeding mood. So, in summary fishing will be excellent for any Northern Pike fishers that adjust as conditions change, and this is a time you can use a wide variety of lures / flies and presentations in a number of different locations. Northern Pike are feeding heavily to attain weights to get them through the winter months ahead, so monster wide body Pike are caught, and gives any angler the opportunity to catch Trophy Northern Pike. Fly-fishers should bring sink tip line with them for those subtle techniques. In our Fireside Lodge in-house tackle shop we will keep guests informed of fish movements and changes as they occur. Good information is the key to fishing anywhere.

Fall / Late Fall Period: Period includes the very end of September or beginning of October to ice up. Fireside Lodge closes the second Saturday in September but I have included some information for this period and the winter period below for the curious angler. Northern Pike will use the weeds until they start to die and fall over, and they will also use all types of rock structures. The shallower weed areas get fishing northern pikeeliminated sooner as they die quicker so during most of this period using deeper weeds between 8 to 18 feet of water is more productive. Lures used are minnow/fish imitators, twitching or wobble baits, buck tails, jerk baits, spinner baits, swim baits, soft plastics, spoons, and jigs. The only thing I stay away from is surface presentations as the water temperatures are usually too cold to be productive. I use a lot of slower presentations during this time. Plastics with a very slow or do nothing approach could mean catching 20-25 Northern Pike as opposed to catching none. I could never understand when an anglers tell me they do not like fishing this way, as I have never found an angler that does not like the action of catching 25 sizable Northern Pike as opposed to none. Fly fishers are using streamers with a slow strip action, pausing a lot to keep the fly in front of the Pike as long as possible. Sinking line will help during this time period. This time period has it??s challenges, but can be very rewarding, and most definitely will make anyone a better angler.

Winter / Spring Ice Out Period: This period begins with ice starting to form in most bays, usually the second week of November through ice out at the beginning of May. I have only fished a few times during this period, as I prefer open water. I have found Northern Pike under the ice in areas that held the past summer weeds, in 4 to 10 feet of water. I have used soft plastics, using a dead stick approach, which means just letting it sit on the bottom. Pike are non-aggressive and feed off the bottom northern pike recordpicking up dead fish. Another well-known technique is to use dead cisco with a quick strike rig. As the sun progressively gets higher in the sky, and we get closer to spring ice out, Northern Pike are known to make a winter migration movement, under the ice, to their spring spawning grounds. Pike arrive in these spawning areas well before the ice leaves, anxiously waiting to start this wonderful natural cycle all over again. My knowledge in this area is limited as I usually enjoyed the other outdoor activities winter brings to our beautiful area.

All Photos on this page are Northern Pike that were caught and released by Fireside Lodge guests.

Conservation = Great Fishing,
and we are keeping it that way with the commitment of fisheries
management. At Fireside Lodge, Little Vermilion, Cedarbough
and all portage lakes are managed as catch and release lakes.
Maskinonge, Hooch, and Cloudlet are catch & release, barbless
hooks only, one hook only and no live bait. This gives every
Fireside Lodge guest the best possible opportunity to have the
fishing trip of their life. Fireside Lodge guests catch many fish
and very large fish. Just about everyone fishing in these lakes has
experienced the fishing day, or catch of their lifetime. Many had
both. After all this is what we all go on a fishing trip for.
For some examples of what Fireside Lodge guests experienced while fishing at Fireside Lodge go to our Daily Fishing Catches, Fishing Reports, Fishing Photos and Master Anglers Award pages.
northern pike northwest ontario
May 21st - September 10th
Special Seasons & Regulations
All Lakes Are Catch & Release Only
Muskie Season Opens June 18th
Closs Lake is opened to fishing on June 18th
Maskinonge, Hooch & Cloudlet Lakes are Opened to fishing on
June 18th
Maskinonge, Hooch & Cloudlet & all Portage Lakes are catch &
release only
Maskinonge, Hooch & Cloudlet Lakes are barbless, one hook only
& no live bait

This page is written by Alan Brandys / Owner of Fireside Lodge
If you have any questions please email at
northern pike sioux lookout ontario

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