As fall progresses and water temps plummet, deep clumps of coontail become hotbeds of northern pike activity.
Depth is relative to the individual lake, but 11 to 17 feet is a common range in many waters in the upper Midwest. Key holding spots include isolated clumps of still-green coontail offering well-defined edges. Such areas concentrate northern pike in small areas, and these clumps are much easier to fish effectively than larger weedbeds.
Northland Fishing Tackle’s Mimic Minnow Spin (below) is a great option for targeting these fish. Tipped with a 3- to 5-inch, securely skull-hooked sucker minnow, the jig can be cast or trolled, depending on the size of the weed clump.
For larger clumps, slow-troll the spin-and-minnow combo at .7 to 1.2 mph just above the weed tops and along the edges, so it occasionally ticks the vegetation. When your lure contacts the weeds, snap the rod tip to rip it free. Hang on tight, because the resulting erratic action produced when the lure surges forward, then flutters back down, often triggers a strike.
When fishing a smaller clump, or when pike tuck tight into the weeds following a severe fall cold front, casting is a better option. Simply cast out, let the lure fall to the bottom and then methodically retrieve it over the weeds, allowing it to helicopter down into open pockets and along the edges.
As for gear, I prefer a medium-heavy spinning outfit spooled with superline such as 15-pound Bionic Braid tipped with a steel leader. My No. 1 rod choice is 13 Fishing’s Omen Black 7-foot, 1-inch rod (below); it has just the right blank for working the lure, setting the hook and fighting beefy fall pike.
The deep coontail bite with stay hot until the vegetation dies off. Take advantage of this overlooked pike pattern and make this your best fall yet.
Check out the video below to watch Chip Leer demonstrate this killer system for pickin’ deep-water fall pike.
Images by Chip Leer