October 5th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board Member and printed with permission from the Renville County Register

With fall fishing now underway, we would like to remind you of a fall (and winter) pike fishing tip.

This tip is for people who will use live bait or fresh dead bait for Northern Pike. And this tip is for folks who will release larger pike so they don’t want to injure the fish they release.

The Minnesota DNR now offers you the option to fish for pike with a “quick-strike rig”. You can see this fishing rig on P. 20 of the Minnesota Fishing Regulations book. This rig allows you to set the hook almost instantly when a northern bites on your rig. There are two or three multiple hooks (treble or double) on wire leaders. The pike is more likely to have this rig inside its mouth where he can’t be hurt if you set the hook almost immediately, perhaps with a two or three second delay. Otherwise, with a single hook on a minnow, the pike can swallow it deeply and the hook may damage an otherwise releasable pike.

You can either rig this yourself or purchase one already made at your tackle shop. It is easy to make one yourself as so many fishermen have been doing even before it was legal to use in Minnesota. I made one for years and the thing that made it legal in those days was the addition of a small spinner blade on the rig. Today, you don’t need it, but it is still a good attractor to lure in the pike, especially to dead bait.

Pike are notorious for nasty teeth that cut lines so a steel leader makes for a better rig if you want to get the fish into the boat. I use two super thin 18 lb. test steel leaders that are very hard to see by the fish, even in winter clear water.

One leader is attached to your monofilament or “super braid” line and should have a treble hook on the snap. This treble can go through the back of your sucker or chub minnow’s back near the dorsal fin. Consider locating the center of gravity for this minnow, whether dead or alive as it will hang straighter, and in a more natural manner. A weight may have to be used above the top leader if you are using a frisky and alive minnow. Otherwise the weight of the hooks and leader may hold the fish at depth.

A second and often slightly shorter leader than the first, is attached to the snap that has the treble hook on it at the dorsal fin of the minnow. This shorter leader will also have a treble hook on it and it will be stuck through the lip of the sucker or chub at the head. If this leader is too long, it is first wrapped around the minnow before sticking it into the lip of the bait fish.

Now we have a hook in the middle of the minnow to suspend it below a bobber, and another hook in the mouth of the minnow. The pike can bite it at the head or in the middle and you can almost set the hook right away.

Another thing is that with a slight modification of hooking method, this can also be used for a large sucker or chub fished on the bottom of the lake and reeled slowly, with pauses and jerks back to the caster who is wading in the lake.

In this approach, the top treble hook is stuck into the minnow’s mouth instead of the dorsal fin area. Now, the second treble hook is stuck into the minnow farther back to catch the pike if it “short strikes” the minnow. Heads you win, tails you win; and the pike loses for now. Again, the hook to go at the rear portion of the minnow can have the leader wrapped around the minnow if it is too far back and you want it just behind the dorsal fin.

In the fall, this will also bring in an occasional walleye of substantial size that is not intimidated by the size of the sucker or chub minnow. And, don’t hesitate to experiment with a small spinner blade of silver, gold, or even painted colors. You never know.

Instead of using treble hooks you can purchase special hooks for rigging your own quick-strike rigs at your favorite tackle store. Or, you can also buy the whole rig.

If bobber fishing, you don’t want a bobber the size of a softball. Use one that can almost be pulled down by the weight of the minnow, sinker, and steel leaders. The pike may drop the thing if there is too large a bobber on the line. Watch the bobber and if it starts to move off, or go down some, a pike has grabbed it. Set the hook after picking up the rod.

If casting and reeling this rig, set the hook immediately if a good hit is experienced. If not, stop reeling and let the fish grab it better and if you feel the fish at the end of the line, smack him and cross his eyes with a good hook-set.

Enjoy the fight and after taking a picture of the trophy, release it to fight another day. Next year, it may be big enough to hang on the wall, but for now, let it swim.


If you have a computer, just Google the topic of Y-Bone removal and you will get either directions or a video to study. Pike are the best tasting fish in our waters. O.K. crappie are probably a bit better, but pike are really clean fleshed and caught in cold water will be a treat no matter how you eat it.

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