Big Pike are Active on Lake of the Woods
It is game on for those big pike roaming the waters of Lake of the Woods. We have seen pike activity increase over the past few weeks and some big fish are being iced.
Every year anglers flock to Lake of the Woods to tip up fish for monster northern pike. Starting in late February and Early March northern pike have the feed bags on prior to spawning. These pike are staging in relatively shallow water and get congregated for the upcoming spawn. It’s not uncommon to see bays and shorelines with anglers and tip ups. Mainly anglers use a quick strike rig with a smelt, cisco or sucker minnow attached. These giant toothy fish have no problem going after a 14 inch sucker minnow.
Lake of the Woods has the make up of a trophy lake and this means we have the ability to grow trophy fish. Trophy lakes need good genes and good forage in order to make trophy fish. Lake of the Woods has both. Big pike will eat a variety of forage including walleyes, sauger, perch and tulibees. This high quality forage allow pike in these waters to grow into giants. A good slot limit with anglers having to release fish 30-40 inches is also a plus. Limits on pike are 3 fish with only one fish allowed to be over 40 inches. Because we are a border water we are allowed to fish pike all year long.
There are many areas to fish big pike. In a nutshell, areas adjacent to spawning areas is where you will find them. Some starting points could be Baudette Bay, Four Mile Bay, Bostick Creek, Zippel Bay, Muskeg Bay and various bays around the NW Angle.
Many anglers like using a quick strike rig. In essence, it is a piece of leader material that comes to a “Y” with a small spinner and treble hook on each side. One treble is place just behind the head of the large minnow offering, the other treble just in front of the tail. This setup allows a pike angler to set the hook right away which can lead to more hookups and less chance of a big pike swallowing the hooks causing damage to the fish.
There are not a lot of bodies of water this far south that have such a healthy trophy pike population. Lake of the Woods has big numbers of pike over that 40″ mark which in most angler’s books is considered a trophy.
We encourage anglers to have all of your equipment ready to safely release pike when tip up fishing. Camera, spreader for the jaws, long needle nose, etc. Having these trophies out of the water and in the cold too long can certainly lead to mortality.
Most anglers get a nice pic of a trophy pike and release it. With the slot limit of 30-40″ having to be released, anglers will often take home fish under the 30″ mark.
It is important to note anglers are required to use bait from a bait shop that is certified. There are certain diseases with types of baitfish, thus to prevent the spread, the MN DNR required bait to be cleared. Thus, the days of stopping at a fish market to pick up bait for big pike that most people would purchase for their own dinner table are behind us.
Feeling the power of a big pike from Minnesota’s Lake of the Woods can be an experience of a lifetime. March and early April are great times to make that happen.