Pike are a highly aggressive type of fish.
They are, however, rather lazy, and will often take a free meal rather than forage for one. A tried and true method I frequently employ is to cast a dead sucker minnow on slack line to an ideal spot where pike might be hiding.
To accomplish this, thread a medium-sized sucker minnow with a treble hook through the dorsal fin, with one barb in the back and the other two out and facing back towards the tail. Set a small weight three feet above the sucker, just enough to sink the bait.
Cast the bait next to a weed bed or a structured shoal (shadows that cover the large fish as they lurk, overhanging branches, or a cut in the bank.) Allow the bait to fall until the weight reaches the bottom; this will allow the minnow to float up slightly and move around with the movement of the water. Allow about ten feet of slack in the line before tying on a float. Keep your reel’s bail open.
When a pike strikes your bait, the float will take off through the water.
When a pike catches a sucker minnow, it will usually swim off about ten feet and stop. They will turn the minnow around and swallow it at this point. They will then take off again. The time has come to close the bail and set the hook. Keep an eye out for some exciting action!
I sometimes let the fish run for another ten feet or so before hooking it, just to make sure the sucker minnow was swallowed.
A word of caution: if you let the fish run too long, the hook will become lodged in its throat, and you may not be able to release the fish unharmed.
This method works particularly well in the warmer months, as well as in the spring, when the pike are actively feeding on baitfish that have made their way down the rivers. Pike will gorge themselves this time of year and will take almost any lure or plug that resembles a small fish.
However, if you’re having trouble securing a shore lunch, this is a surefire way to eat.
We’ve had fish spit the hook or break off using this method, and each time it happened, we realised we were jumping the gun on the hook set. Allowing them to swallow the bait before testing the line.