Deep water is where big northern pike spend most of their time throughout the year. At times, the shallow water bite can be very good for number and big fish, but most of the time, the better big fish bite will be deeper. On murky lakes, deep water could be 8 to 14 feet deep while on clear lakes it could be 20 to 40 feet down. Whether you are fishing clear water, murky water, lakes or rivers, learning how to fish deeper water is key to finding and catching big northern pike on a consistent basis. Getting your lures down to the deeper depths is key. Jigs tipped with minnows and soft plastic baits work well. Bigger spinnerbaits, in-line spinners, crankbaits and jigging spoons also work well in deeper water. Carolina rigs and bottom bouncers will also help you get your baits down deep too.
The deeper water drop-offs provide some of the better spots to target pike from summer through fall. Get right on these drop-offs as they drop into deeper water and you’ll have a lot more success than just randomly fishing deeper water.
Go Vertical With a Jig or Drop Shot Rig
A jig and soft plastic or a jig and minnow is one of the easiest ways to fish the drop-offs. Some anglers like using the drop shot rig instead. Both rigs are great for going vertical and fishing deeper water. Fishing vertical makes it easier to get your bait right on the spot and keep it in the strike zone and getting a good hook set is easier too from straight above the fish.
Open Water Fishing
Some anglers do well troll open water from summer through fall. You can find a lot of pike roaming the open waters as they seek out cooler water temperatures and schools of bait fish. Once the thermocline sets in, it’s a little easier to consistently find the depth that the fish will be at. If you have good electronics and you can find schools of bait fish, you can have some success trolling through these areas with crankbaits and other popular pike lures. Some anglers find these schools of bait fish and report good success jigging above them with soft plastics and live minnows.
Some good places to search for these open water pike are just a little ways off a ledge or reef. Pike will often suspend over deeper water not too far away from these spots.