River Pike Fishing Tips That Will Instantly Make You a Better Angler

Whether you are a recreational or a professional angler, it’s a good idea to gain more knowledge about Pike fishing in rivers. So, let’s cover all the elements you need to know about how to catch a pike.

How to Catch River Pike? to catch river Pike, you need to locate them at turning points and river mouths. They could also be hiding under lily pads or water weeds, and when the weather gets warmer, they will go deeper. The peak time to fish for river pike is late May till early June, while they scavenge food.

Keep reading to learn more river Pike fishing tips, including where to target them, the best times to target them, and the best baits to use.

Where And When to Catch River Pike?

a photo of an angler holding a pike fish o show the river pike fishing tops

In order to catch river Pike, you need to do some research about where to find them and when they are actively looking for live prey. This sounds like a lot of effort, but it will all be worth it once you and more Pike on your fishing trip.

Pike has gained a reputation as an aggressive, angry predator that ambushes their prey. They prefer slow stream rivers to make their mission of catching their prey easier. 

They tend to hide in river turns, which is the slowest stream area in the river, so they can catch their food more easily. Also, they spend most of their time saving their energy in the water weeds or river mouths, waiting for some prey like frogs or birds.

Knowing the weather will help you to know where Pike are located. In warm weather, Pike will go deep into the river to cool their body temperature. They like to stay at 8-15 feet deep rivers, so they can go deep as much as they can.

If this is your first fishing trip, it will be easier for you if you choose a small river, as it is more simple to catch Pike there. You can find them in the river turns or near obstructions effortlessly because of the small river’s slow stream.

On the other hand, fishing in large rivers will definitely give you more of a chance to catch bigger Pike that weighs over 20 pounds, but it requires more effort and research to locate the Pike there because there is more water to cover.

When it comes to the time of the year, the best season to catch river Pike is fall, especially in September and October, because they will become more active and more likely to bite. Fishing in these months requires live bait to attract the Pike to hunt and bite.

In addition to fall being the best season to fish for river Pike, the sunrise and sunset hours are the best times of the day to get Pike to bite more.

What Are the Best Baits and Lures to Catch River Pike?

Because of their voracious appetite, Pike always catch the bait fast, especially when you choose the right spot and use their favorite bait and lures.

Any fish that swim by Pike is a potential bait. However, there are some baits that perform better than others. As Pike use their sight sense alongside their smell sense, some artificial lures are also going to help you trick pikes easily. 

So, let’s take a look at some of the best baits and lures you can use to catch river Pike:


Bluegills are the shortest way to big hungry Pike. They are one of Pike’s favorite food, but they find it hard to catch, so it will be satisfying for them to catch live bluegills easily. You can learn more about whether Pike eat Bluegills here.

Matching this bait with a bluegill-patterned swimbait or soft plastic lure will also be very attractive for Pike.

Creek Chubs

You can catch creek chubs easily in northern rivers. They tend to be very attractive to aggressive Pike looking for an easy picking meal. You can use creel chubs with any lure that looks like suckers or alewives.

Yellow perch

Yellow perch is a favorite food of northern Pike, and they are usually living in abundance alongside northern Pike as they provide a tasty meal for hungry Pike.

Using large lures shaped as yellow perch is recommended. Even a design like a fire tiger might fool the eye into thinking it’s a vivid yellow perch, resulting in forceful attacks.


Shad has a variety of species that range in size from tiny to large. Gizzard or threadfin shad will help you catch your dream northern Pike. 

This bait’s issue is that they perish soon after catching them as they are stressed easily, so you need to be fast when fishing with shad.

Swimbaits, crankbaits, and spoons that imitate shad are far more effective. These baits are capable of catching a large number of Pike, as well as a variety of other species.


Alewives are one of the favorite baits for Pike. However, alewives live deep in the sea, which makes it hard to catch with a net. 

You can choose fishing lures that imitate alewives instead. Big Pike tend to prefer lures with navy blue backs and white or silversides.


Ciscos are found in northern reservoirs, rivers, and lakes. They can produce some fantastic action that will attract northern Pike to bite more.

You can also use cisco-like crankbaits, inline spinners, spoons, and swimbaits. 


Suckers are Pike’s second favorite food after ciscos. This bait can get you a lot of big Northern Pike. There are also Sucker lures that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. 

Tips for Ice Fishing for Northern Pike

Catching Pike during winter has some different tricks, strategies, and gear. However, there are some ice anglers who specialize in ice fishing seasons. 

Pike use old-school hunting in the shallow water. They usually hide in the waterweed at about 5-15 feet deep in the water. This is considered an ambush area; Pike can easily move in and out of this area so they can trap their prey while saving their energy.

Finding waterweed in the ice months won’t be the easiest thing to do on your fishing trip because the ice might be covering the water surface. The simplest way to mark the weed areas on your depth finder over the summer season is to have a fruitful.

While live bait like is the most attractive food for Pike, dead bait can be more effective sometimes. 

Various anglers agree that you can use dead baits or even dead Pike to attract Pike more because Pike are scavengers and predators. They would like to catch dead prey as an easy meal.

They like to pick up and devour newly killed baitfish from the bottom on a regular basis. Sucker, cisco, alewife, shad, goldeye, and other oily baitfish are among their favorites. 


Pike are aggressive predators who like to trap their prey instead of chasing it. You can find Pike in small and large rivers. It’s best to target them at:

  • River turns
  • River mouth
  • Waterweeds and under lily pads

The best season to catch Pike is fall, especially in September and October. At the same time, the golden hours of fishing are around sunshine and sunset.

Pike’s favorite live baits are bluegills, creek chubs, yellow perch, shad, alewives, ciscos, and suckers. Also, dead bait can be attractive for Pike from mid-May till mid-June, as they become lazier in this period and look for easy dead prey.

Fake baits and lures can be effective with Pike because they mainly use their sight sense to catch their prey. You need to use bright color lures during spring and grey or patterned ones in fall.

You can catch your dream pike in ice season if you have good company and a specific plan for fishing.

Related Questions 

What Colors Do Pike See the Best? 

The colors that Pike see the best are bright colors like orange, white, and chartreuse. They are visual hunters, so they rely on their sight to catch food. Though, in the fall, silver, grey, and black combinations appear to be the most effective.

What Is the Best Bait for Pike Fishing? 

The best bait for Pike fishing is live baitfish with lots of natural oils in their skin and flesh, such as bluegills, creek chubs, yellow perch, shad, alewives, ciscos, and suckers. Pike are aggressive fish who will eat any passing prey, and they are not picky when it comes to food. 

What Are the Best Conditions for Pike fishing? 

The best conditions for Pike fishing are low-pressure, warmer water temps, dark sky, and southern or southwestern winds. Rain, on the other hand, has a detrimental impact on the Pike’s appetite and should be avoided. Make sure to check the water and weather conditions before going on a trip.

What Is the Best Lure to Catching River Pike? 

The best lure to catch river Pike is the spoon. The wobbling action of the spoon is excellent for attracting the attention of Pike as it passes by. However, there are many other lures that can work well with Pike, and you need to prepare some different options of lures like buzz baits and spinners.

How to Find Pike in Small Streams?

Finding a pike in small streams is very simple. All you need to do is look for the river turns, especially the deep ones, as well as trees, waterweed spots, or any calm water areas. Try to pay attention to the weather because, in warm temperatures, Pikes go deeper into the sea to cool their bodies.

Helpful Resources

The beginner’s guide to catching Pike

Get Started with Pike Fishing

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