As summer is in full swing, so is the fishing for Big Pike! The best time of year is upon us, and when water temperatures still allow us to fish safely for big fish, fishing with large swimbaits for open-water predators is a great way to go! Covering as much water as you can is key in summer and what best way to do so than with a large bait? In this article, I will tell you all about this, and now only that but also which gear to use best when trolling or casting for big pike on large bodies or perhaps even smaller bodies of water!
Catching pike in summer is one of the greatest things to do. The strikes are often rock-hard and come out of nowhere. Unlike during the colder months of the year when also the water temperature is colder, the fish are now in the most active state they can possibly be. As long as the water temperature allows us to safely fish (Max 22,5 in Oligotrophic waters Max 20.5C in Mesotrophic waters) it can be greatly rewarding. Throughout the summer months, the pike is widely spread and unlike the colder times gather in packs to hunt. It’s all about weed lines, break lines, structure, and open water in summer, and what better way to do so than trolling with swimbaits?
When fishing for pike in summer they are generally more active during low-light periods, such as the early morning and late evening. However, they can still be caught during the day, especially if you focus on areas with cover and structure that provide shade but also a hideout for baitfish. In the summer it is the easiest and yet also the most difficult time to find big fish, since they are spread out so widely but the strikes are often violent and hard where they truly attack your baits with full force, and like mentioned before what better way to cover (open) water than with a swimbait!
One of my all-time favorite swimbaits to fish in open water are those with large soft plastic tails and sometimes even a diving lip like the Renky One from Fishing Ghost. These crankbait style swimbaits come with a soft plastic tail and a movement through the water that is second to none and unlike anything that is out there on the market at this time. They are extremely durable which means you can catch several big pike on a single bait, and the overall build quality is rock solid as well.
The hardhead of the Renky One attaches the diving lip, which btw isn’t recommended to be removed as the swimming action gets lost, and I have glued it tight to the bait with super glue or uv glue because it has been designed to come out when your bait is stuck to the bottom, but I rather have it glued in. On the back of the bait, there is a large soft plastic tail that is very durable and will wave in pike from miles away. The Renky One comes in different sizes but my most favorite are the 25 and 35cm. Straight out of the packaging they are already ready to fish but as I do with all baits I have modified them to fit my specific needs! Let’s take a look at how I have re-rigged my Renky’s for the big pike fishing!
When it comes to fishing big swimbaits or even crankbaits of any kind, having the right setup is crucial in order to get the fish to the boat. This is a thing that is SO often overlooked and tackle is often mismatched here. Please remember when we are trolling for pike that you will encounter some of the biggest fish that live in freshwater, and perhaps losing a big fish due to equipment failure is an absolute no-go. For years I have experimented with finding the right gear and after trying different rods but also line setups I came out with what is right at this moment probably the Best trolling rod on the market for big pike fishing, and that is the Abu Garcia BEAST Pro 842 SH Power Pike in 60-260gr. For me this is the Ultimate trolling rod, but also a casting rod for large swimbaits and other soft plastics. It has a brutal backbone, and the ability to set the hook long distance. This is something that is unfortunately very much overlooked when trolling large swimbaits or any other bait for big pike.
You are often fishing long distances from the boat, but sometimes also in close range, and when you are fishing a large bait, there is a lot of ”weight” on the end of your line alone from the bait itself, the moment a fish grabs the bait, the hooks need to be set also, but since you are already having some weight at your line the momentum in which you are able to do so gets rapidly shortened. Therefore it is always key to fish a heavy-duty setup like the Abu Garcia BEAST Pro 842 SH Power Pike in 60-260gr mentioned earlier before. Not only does this rod have a super high-quality blank and rod guides, but it is also lightweight which enables you to fish it all day alone, but the backbone of this rod, ie the curve which is fast really increases your chances of hooking that monster pike you’ve always wanted to catch. Softer rods simply absorb the energy on the hookset, resulting in no hookset at all, and for trolling this is my dream rod!
A rod is only as good as the reel, so for the trolling game, I have paired the Abu Garcia BEAST Pro 842 SH Power Pike in 60-260g with the Abu Garcia MAX61 Reel which comes with a handy clicker when I’m using it in a rod holder. This is another quality product from Abu Garcia and a heavy-duty reel to catch the biggest fish. It can take a great amount of line and is super durable which is something you’ll need when targeting large predators. I very much like the fact that this reel has a double handle, and is compact, yet lightweight. The Abu Garcia Max61 Reel is almost spooled it up with a full package of Berkley Sick Braid X8 in 0.39mm which has a breaking strength of 46.3kg or 102lb. This is the only line that is right enough for me to troll large baits. Like mentioned before you are fishing for large fish, and the hookset is direct. You’ll never have to worry about breaking your line, plus fishing a thicker braid also gives another huge extra, and that is lifting in the line directed to the lure. Having a large bait on the end of your lines makes it want to sink like a brick, and you of course don’t want that. Lifting in the water from the thicker braid creates more room to fish it, also on shallower drops thus it makes the bait swim easier when letting down the line because the bait sinks slower due to the lift in the water from the thicker diameter. Another thing why I’m a big fan of the Berkley X8 Sick Braid is the fact it doesn’t take on water and makes it very nice to fish even in colder conditions, not freezing up your guides, but in summer that’s nowhere in order of course!
When targeting Pike in large open bodies of water in summer finding the key is what it is all about. The biggest fish roam open bodies of water that consist of structures, thermoclines, and weeds. Finding these places can often be tricky as every body of water is different but with a good sonar setup that shows you either 2D / Sidescan or Downview, it is much easier to locate where the fish are hiding. Locating an area with weeds on a drop to open water is often a great place to start, yet on the transition zones from deeper to shallower water that is where the magic can happen as well. As mentioned in summer it’s absolutely crucial to find the break lines that fish move up and down in order to feed, not so much finding the baitfish. The only time that finding baitfish is key is in the colder water months, and this is also varying up to any body of water. In summer it is very important that you literally search the edges from deep to shallow water. A steep drop provides cover in the form of a hiding place for a big fish as it provides a place with shads against the bright sunlight that is typical in these months. Finding structures can be a difficult task but with a good sonar, you are already at half the work. Another feature that I highly rely on in all of my fishing styles is the use of Navionics Relief Shading. This mapping tool has already delivered me so much fish and it’s often unreal what detail you will see on the map to quickly learn what is happening in the water right below your boat!
Shallow edges next to deeper water are perfect for summer pike. Navionics Relief Shading reveals it all!
As you can see from the map above the area of this particular body of water is all about structure. The shallows are nearby but so is also the transition zone into deeper water. Especially in summer when the water warms quickly during the day the bigger pikes move up and down an edge more than you can imagine and are often only there for a small matter of time. Being there at the right moment is key, and so are matching weather conditions such as the wind, clouds, and sun, but also the moon phase and penetration of light. Many factors play a key role in locating fish but in the end, trolling distance with your boat is what brings the fish onboard. Once you have located an area where the fish are you can either choose to stop and start casting or continue trolling. Once you have found an area where the fish are located you can multiply every single time. The same technique that you are successful in can be multiplied with any kind of water. When you have found what works, you can fish it with what works, now you know what kind of gear to use and how to use it, you will discover for yourself the endless possibilities that there are on the water. Good luck!