More northern pike are caught around weeds than any other type of cover. Weeds concentrate lots of smaller fish so it would make sense that pike would cruise these weedlines when they are looking for a meal. The key to catching fish consistently is to find out which types of weeds produce during different times of the year. Broad-leaved species of cabbage are typically the best areas for pike, but this doesn’t mean that every area with cabbage will produce fish. Cabbage beds in shallow bays will hold many fish during the spring and fall. Target these cabbage beds in the spring with spinnerbaits, spinners, spoons, shallow crankbaits, and topwater lures and you will catch tons of pike. In the summer, these shallow cabbage beds will hold mostly small fish if any at all. Deep humps with cabbage will hold fish during the summer and through fall. Reeds, lily pads and other types of weeds will also hold pike.
When fishing submerged weeds, you have a lot of different options. Fish some baits just above the weeds or along the weed edge. Most of the normal pike lures will work in these areas. Spoons, crankbaits, spinners and swimbaits are just some of the options for fishing these areas.
When fishing emergent vegetation, your best bet is to fish the weed edges. You can fish over the top of the weeds and in the pockets, but you need to go with real heavy line. Some of the rice beds and lily pads that are found up north are perfect for fishing the pockets. You’re going to catch a lot of pike if you can fish the weed edges, especially the deeper weed edges that drop into 4 to 10 feet of water just off the emergent vegetation.
Cabbage is Best
It’s tough to beat cabbage when it comes to pike fishing. For some reason, pike just love the cabbage. When you search for weeds on a lake, you are going to find a variety of weeds and most weeds won’t be cabbage. When you do come across some cabbage, fish it thoroughly, especially if there is some deeper water there as well. If you can find some areas that have water in the 6 to 12 foot range, you will probably do well.
Fish the Deeper Weed Edges
The weed edges are always good places to search for pike. As the water warms up in the summer, the deeper weed edges should be set and these are some of the best places to target better quality pike from summer through fall.
Fish the Reeds
The reeds that have some deeper water can be very productive. It doesn’t have to be much depth either. Some of the shallow reeds will be in water just 1 to 3 feet deep, so this is definitely a shallow water presentation. You may catch some fish in these spots, but you’re going to have better success for better quality pike as you get into the 4 to 6 foot spots with reeds. If there is some deeper water nearby, that will also help. For example, if you pull up to an island and the reeds are in 2 to 6 feet of water and then there is a drop-off into 12 feet of water and then even deeper, this spot could be a great spot to find some quality fish. Pike will move up into the reeds to find an easy meal and then they will move back into deeper water to rest.
Spinners are Great for the Weeds
Spinnerbaits, inline spinners and underspins are great for fishing the weeds. Go lighter in the shallow stuff and then use some heavier spinners as you find some deeper water with vegetation.
Bass jigs are great for flipping and pitching into the pockets of the weeds. You can often find plenty of pockets around the lily pads and reeds where you can flip a jig into. Add your favorite trailer, fish it hard and you will catch some pike.
Go Weedless with Soft Plastics
Soft plastics rigged on a variety of weedless rigs can work great around the weeds. It will be similar to how most anglers will fish for largemouth bass, except the bites can be a lot harder and you have to deal with a much bigger fish that you have to steer out of the weeds. Go heavy with your fishing line and your rod so you can have some control over some of the bigger fish that will be found in these areas.
Weedless Spoons Can Also Be Effective
Weedless spoons are great when you have some weeds just below the surface or some vegetation with some pockets for winding these spoons through. Some reeds and lily pads are perfect for a weedless spoon. Most anglers use the weedless spoons to fish over the submerged vegetation. The weedless hooks won’t catch as much of the weeds, so it’s a nice way to fish a spoon when it would be very difficult if you fished a spoon that isn’t weedless.