The leaves have begun to change colour and the air has a crisp bite, reminding us summer has given way to fall and winter will soon be here.
This time of year, many people are winterizing their boats and putting away their tackle. However, before you switch out your fishing poles for your rifles, fall fishing can be a very successful time of year for anglers. With so many lakes to choose from in the Lakeland Region, hooking into some big fish, especially northern pike, can pay off if you’re willing to cast a line during the fall months.
Throughout the heat of the summer months, catching those six to eight-pound pike can be a lot of fun, and they can usually be found in the warm shallow weed beds. However, to target pike over ten pounds is much harder to do. These toothy, aggressive predators like to head to deeper, cooler water in July and August, making it more challenging for an angler to land the pike of their dreams.
Pike like cold water, and — in my experience — spring, fall and winter produce the biggest northern pike. During the fall months, with the water temperature dropping, the big northern pike are on the move. They are on a feeding frenzy, trying to pack on weight for the winter months. You will find them roaming the shallows or green weed beds hunting for bait fish. As the weed beds start to die off and turn brown, look for the green patches, as bait fish will hold out in these oxygen rich areas. Where the bait fish are, the big pike will be feasting. Can’t always see the weed beds? Allow your fish finder to show you structure as well as tall upright stalks under the water, which could indicate a healthy thriving weed bed. Trolling over these areas (which can be found in 15-20 feet of water) with a Len Thompson lure, swimbait such as the Storm Wildeye Live Pike or a jerkbait like the Rapala Husky Jerk in the fall can prove very successful.
I think most fishermen and women have used a Len Thompson Lure for pike during one of the fishing seasons. The heavy brass or nickel-plated brass spoons cast further, sink deeper and do not rust, which make them my go-to lures when targeting northern pike. Depending on the day’s conditions in the fall, I like using a No. 2 or No. 4 spoon. My top three lures are the Nickel Blue (half blue/half silver), Five of Diamonds Glow and the Brass and Flame (half orange/half gold). If I am casting thick weed beds, I will change my treble hook on my spoon to a single hook. This will result in fewer weeds snagging on my lure. When working a weed bed, I will start casting on the outside edges and work my way into the centre. This allows me to catch many fish on the outer edges without disturbing the entire weed bed until I am ready to fish it.
If you have a chance this fall, take a drive and enjoy the beautiful scenery and amazing fall fishing at one of the lakes in the Lakeland Region. Remember to always keep a copy of the Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations with you, as each lake may have specific regulations, including slot size and limits.
Whether you are looking for huge northern pike or big walleye and lake trout, staying close to an urban area or venturing into the boreal forest, there is sure to be a lake that fits your adventure in northeast Alberta.