The Connecticut River and the Crazy Fall Pike
by Benoit Vnh
If you are in search of adrenalin, fall pike fishing is your best bet for freshwater. The monstrous strikes and the smartness of that fish will reveal the angler instinct inside of you. The pike remains a mystery for a lot of fishermen, but with a good knowledge and the right strategy you can have success on most of your fishing trips. After one month of analysis, I defined some habits of sir esox specific to the Connecticut River during this period. Pike are really active during the fall, but it seems that active does not mean “easy to catch”. On average, if I go fishing from 9am to 1pm, I can see between five and eight pike behind my lures but making them bite is another story. Jerkbait, swimbait, spinnerbait and a lot of other lures are productive in the fall but you have to think big if you want to trigger their interest. I always managed to bring between one and three of them to the boat but it always with a lot of effort. Three or four followings of one fish are frequent. You have to act fast to find a solution.
-Change your animation
When I am fishing a spot, I always retrieve my lure without too much animation, but if I notice a potential catch I will add some twitches to my lure. This will give your lure the appearance of a distressed baitfish, enhancing the chance of a strike. I always keep in mind the opportunistic behavior of the pike and this is why pausing during the lure retrieval is an important thing to remember.
-Change your lure
Big soft or hard swimbaits are my favorite lures in the pre-winter period. However, if the fish drive me crazy, I will try the aggressive way by using a big glide bait with a lot of rattle. Actually, I make a daring bet that one of two things will happen. By jerking the bait, you will either catch that fish or you will make him leave.
Be ready to make that famous saving trick well known by muskie anglers. The pike in the Connecticut River are so suspicious that a lot of bite will happen right up to the boat. The figure eight could be your last opportunityâ€¦ almost 20% of the pike I have caught since the beginning of the fall hit my lure thanks to that trick.
Consider that some parts of the Connecticut River are not populated with pike while other areas are loaded. Since the beginning of September, the pike are living and feeding in the very shallow areas at low tide and move in the coves or in shelters of the fallen trees and structures when the tide is going up. It is why sometimes you will find a few pike on a shallow bank and never see one a few hours after when the tide is high. My best weapon to find the potential productive spot is Google maps. I am always looking for a new cove or a specific bank with the possibility for the lazy pike resting in a cover zone. After finding your new playground, the â€œpower fishingâ€ will make a perfect sense. Covering a lot of territory is also one of the keys in finding pike.
Using a simple jig head on your big size soft lure is like going to war with a water gun. If you want to miss 70% of your fish it is the best way. If not, you can add a surprise hook to your jig head. To make that set up you need a good quality treble hook. The size is simple: adapt the size of the hook to the size of your lure. You also need a wire that can easily be knotted to link the jig head to your surprise hook.
I always use a 5/0 jig head and I consider that two different weights are enough to fish everywhere. It is why my tackle box is always made up of 1/4oz and 3/4oz jig heads. If you like to change your soft lure size, style and color often, I recommend to prepare in advance some different size stingers. When a change must be done you just have to pass the loop of the wire on the jig head eyelet before clipping your fastlock-snap. Always try to put the treble hook on the top of your lure and most of the time in the middle of this one.
See you soon for the perfect lure selection!