When it comes to northern pike fishing, there’s a lot to love. Pike fight hard, they taste delicious, and few freshwater fish can give such a fight and the potential to get a trophy-sized fish that you can truly be proud of when putting up on the wall. They’re fun because they’re so aggressive, which also makes it all the more annoying when you’ve been out during the summer and didn’t get a hit. The good news is that even on very hot summer days there might be an option: night fishing for northern pike.
The question of night fishing for northern pike is fairly easy to answer. While every location can be a bit different, there are some generalities with night pike fishing that tend to hold true no matter where you are fishing them from.
Night fishing for pike generally works best around 2 hours after sunset and a bit over 1 hour before sunrise. This is when big pike tend to emerge from deeper water to feed making it an ideal time to take a shot at a trophy northern pike, as well.
So get your night lights ready, make sure the boat is gassed up, and lets talk about catching northern pike at night.
Can You Night Fish for Pike?
Night fishing for pike can be very effective, but with a caveat. Northern pike need to sleep like any other fish and they also tend to do that at night when many other fish are sleeping. After all, if your nickname is the freshwater wolf, you will know enough to hunt when other fish are out and about, not when there’s no prey around at all.
Because of this the best times to fish at night by far are the two hours after sunset (and often the hour leading up to sunset) and the hour before dawn/sunrise. This is when prey fish, birds, frogs, and other animals that northern pikes feed on are still likely to feed on are going to be active. That makes this a time when they are still going to be active, and after an especially hot day those might be the times where the water cools off enough for them to be their most active.
If you don’t have success after the first 90 minutes of night fishing late at night, your best bet is to pack it in for the pre-dawn times, which go right into early morning, a time where some bigger pike are also known to feed.
Do Pike Feed at Night?
Generally speaking, northern pike tend to be very active in the hour leading up to sunset and often the first two hours after sunset. This can vary based on season and the lake, but as long as you are focusing your night fishing on the earliest hours of night, or sometimes the hour before sunrise, you will be able to find some active pike looking for that last little meal.
Most of the night northern pike are going to be sleeping and charging up for the next day. There’s also a reason most pike fishing is done during the day, because they are active when most other fish are dead so during most of the night it just doesn’t make sense for them to be out hunting when there are less animals and other food sources out and about.
Do Bigger Trophy Pike Feed at Night?
There’s no single answer to this as every body of water is different, but there are many anecdotal accounts from pike anglers who, from years of experience night fishing, swear that although the number of pike active tends to be less during the more active times of day when most northern pike are feeding, they also say the average size of a pike that is feeding at night tends to be much larger at night.
So if mostly trophy-sized northern pike are the ones feeding at night, that could definitely be worth some extra patience, preparation, and work to make sure to get those extra 1-3 hours of fishing a day in by hitting the waters for night fishing.
It is worth noting that big pike tend to go to deeper water during the day meaning they can tolerate and even prefer cooler water than smaller northerns. Because of this some night fishing, especially as the water is just cooling down, could net you a big one in any outcroppings or areas where the deeps start hitting shallows. If the same area is known for having smaller fish that pike might consider a meal then all the better to increase your chances.
How to Night Fish for Northern Pike
The first step is to make sure your boat is properly outfitted for night fishing. If you grew up in a town or city, you might not know just how dark it gets at night. When you’re on a lake with no electric lights around and plenty of woods, especially on a night without a full moon, and it is truly dark.
Your boat needs to be equipped with multiple lights, or places where temporary mounts can be safely attached without being knocked over or getting in the way of people on the boat. In addition to that, there should be flashlights in the boat. Some anglers swear by red light flashlights or blue light flashlights to see without startling out fish – I’m not convinced of this but if you have a local guide who swears by them or something else, take the advice.
The next step is to have your boat prepped for night fishing. Even with all proper lights and safety precautions, there are going to be more blind spots, and it’s going to be harder to see on the water both in and out of the boat.
Your Pike Night Fishing Safety Checklist
- Boat light
- Lanterns – enough lighting to set up and move safely at night
- Blue lens flashlights (or red lens – lets people see spectrums most animals can’t)
- First aid kit
- Flotation device
Because of that it’s crucial all tackle boxes are safely stowed away, so there’s not threat of tripping or spilling a bunch of lures out that could hook into your hands, arms, or legs. This could be disastrous, and if you’ve had to pull one or more treble hooks through your skin before, you know how painful it could be and why you definitely don’t want to deal with a lot of that period – much less at night.
Safety always comes first and pike aren’t exactly shy. If you’re casting out or trolling the light is going to be far away from the lures, anyway, and you can set it for dim when you’re casting or drifting.
You are looking for areas where deep and shallow water meet, preferably with some shelter. Rock outcroppings where the water suddenly drops in a lake are perfect for this kind of fishing because they are areas likely to have many walleye, grayling, or whatever smaller fish school in your area which also means plenty of food for big pike coming up to eat right after sundown or eating in the early morning before heading back to shelter.
Pike Night Fishing FAQ
Here are all the answers to the most common questions that beginning pike anglers have about fishing at night for northern pike.
Do northern pike bite at night?
The answer is sometimes. Pike have great vision and don’t like water that’s too hot so depending on the temperature during the day, the body of water, the time of night, pike can still be active. Regardless of other factors, generally speaking pike are most active the first couple hours after sunset or the first hour or two hours before sunrise.
Is it true trophy northerns come out at night?
In some lakes it is. During the day very large northern pike tend to stick in deep water so since a lot of night fishing is going to be around areas that are easier to traverse or relatively close to shore, it make sense a lot of night fishing takes place where big northerns might come out after a day in the depths, especially if it was a particular warm day and the water needed time to cool down.
Can pike see your fishing lures at night?
Northern pike have especially sharp vision to see movement. That said, rattles, spinners, things that might get attention are still a good idea. I’m not a fan of blinking light lures because they are so alien to what local fish would expect that I think they can warn even large pike off in some cases as opposed to antagonizing them into a strike.
Is pike fishing good at night?
This depends on the area. I’ve fished in areas where the local guides of decades swore up and down that the pike fishing stopped cold at nightfall, and our experiences up there seemed to back that up. In other places all the biggest northern pike each year come from someone heading out to the water after dusk or before dawn. This varies heavily based on season and area.
Why can’t I catch pike at night?
It might just be a bad time of year. If it’s been cool or chilly they might be less active at night than usual. It could just be the location, or you may need to adjust your fishing style and do some fishing to find out where the night pike actually are.
What are the best lures for pike fishing at night?
I recommend brightly colored crankbaits, spinners, rattletraps, lures that are going to make noise, be easier to see or locate in the dark.
Pike Night Fishing Guide Concluded
When it comes to fishing for pike, any time of the day or night they’re biting is a good time to be on the water and chasing that trophy sized pike to mount in the bare space in your living room, study, or man cave that would look really nice with a trophy sized fish there. While there is a limited amount of time for good pike night fishing on most lakes, that 2-3 hour span of time can be a crazy good moment to go piking.
Follow the tips in this article, make sure you’re moving forward with the right type of gear and equipment to night fish safely, and get yourself some big pike during those early evening feeds!
Night fishing for pike works in a narrow window, but the benefits of hitting that window with the perfect lure brings results that every single angler can appreciate, and might even finally lead to that great huge pike you’ve been looking for.
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