Riege: Chunky Northern Pike at North Caribou LakePublished 6:50pm Wednesday, February 27, 2013
By Bob & Ginny Riege
We flew into North Caribou Lake the last week of May. Some old friends and the former owners of the camp Rob and Sandy Brodhagen joined us. Weather was unstable with low clouds and periodic rain with mixture of thunderstorms. The overcast conditions made for great fishing and we made it our mission to search for some chunky northern pike.
We had also contacted Ontario Tourism at www.gofishinontario.com to see what was the best time to come to Northwestern Ontario to fish for some northern pike.
Most fishermen when fishing for northern pike will go to secluded bays and look for vegetation and cast to weed beds. But, the last week of May, most of the larger northerns are moving out to “sunken islands” or mid lake humps, in search for larger prey to fatten themselves up after a long cold winter in Canada.
We found a spot where the flat plunged off into deep water and decided to start our fishing there. I tipped a 1/4 oz. Northland Fireball gold jig with Gulp Minnow and cast it out. No sooner had it started to settle to the bottom than I felt a tap on my line. I set the hook and began to bring it in. About 15 feet from the boat my fish suddenly became very heavy…too heavy for a walleye. In the dark water a huge northern materialized. The big fish was completely unaware of my existence. I gently guided the fish toward the waiting net. The northern was hooked barely in the side of her mouth. As my wife scooped the northern into the net the fish suddenly came alive. Water flew like a geyser and equipment and rods started to fly. One can only appreciate the power of a large northern when he gets near your boat and equipment.
There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you hook a huge pike and you realize if she could have raked her teeth against your line it would have been gone in a second. Usually big northern pike, ten pounds or more, are most easily found and caught in the early spring and late fall when the shallow weedy flats are cooler and there is a lot of forage present there.
Since we were on the edge of the mid lake hump my wife said, ” why don’t we just start trolling for the pike.” I was glad Ginny was along on this trip because she reminded me about some of the things that I had mentioned in seminars and in other stories about fishing. Fish the fish that are on the bite don’t get hung up about fishing a specific type of fish. Wives have a tendency to remember those little things that can make a trip like this a very memorable one. In fact, more sportsmen should be taking their wives and significant others along on their fishing trips to Canada.
Lure color is important. You need to keep in mind what type of forage fish you wish to imitate, so I used walleye colored baits to fish for northern pike. Remember, this is also a fly-in and you are restricted to how much weight you can bring with you. So, if your tackle box is as large as a dollhouse you are going to have make selections that give you a variety of lures without having a dozen in reserve.
The walleyes and northern pike in North Caribou Lake preferred Rapala Shad Raps, Jointed Shad Raps, and Tail Dancers in black and orange, gold, and crawdad color. They also preferred to attack them while being trolled. We tried backtrolling lures, but the speed and vibration was what they wanted most of all.
By long line trolling these lures the fish would smack the lure as we approach the drop off of sunken islands or just as we would crest the top of the mid lake hump. The tiller person should vary their speed by increasing and decreasing speed. This will cause the lure to give the appearance that prey fish are trying to escape. The rod handler can also achieve the pause-surge-pause, by pulling the rod forward and allowing it to fall back.
Ginny and I had a wonderful stay at North Caribou Lake. We caught and released a lot of 37 – 42″ northern pike. We harvested a few smaller walleyes for supper occasionally and enjoyed exploring the lake.
If you are interested in catching some chunky pike contact: If you would like the opportunity to fish these transitional walleyes drop Dusty Brodhagen a line at: P.O. Box 990 Dryden Ontario, P8N 3E3 (Toll Free: 1-877-233-2717 (Phone: (807) 937-2000 (Cell: (807) 221-7400. Also check out the great opportunities to fish Ontario at: www.gofishinontario.com