By: Todd Hatfield
While I wait for our summer steelhead run to evolve we’ve been spending a lot of time chasing large northern pike and walleye in Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan. Almost every lakefront spot, marina, harbor and river in the region has a population of pike, and many have walleye, too. This time year both species are aggressive and available. We’ve been catching large ones, too.
The species have been done spawning for a month and are putting on the feedbag. They are very aggressive and can be caught several ways. Many anglers are throwing lures, but I’ve been sending most of my time throwing Orange and Chartreuse live Fire Dye golden roaches, suckers and large shiners. Pike and walleye inhale live bait. I haven’t tried the Blue Fire Dye, but will this week.
Obviously, regular live bait works, but there’s a lot of bait around. To make it stand out amongst the other bait balls, and from what other anglers are using, I’ve been dying my bait for the last few months. It’s a made a big difference for me. When I first starting doing it the water was murky and these baits were standing out in the off color water. Now that most of the water has cleared the bait stands out even more. The last hog walleye saw the chartreuse minnow and b-lined for it the second it hit the water. It’s been fun to watch these fish see the bait and dart after it.
Just like I’d do with regular live bait I throw the colored bait out under a float and pop the bait a few times to get their attention. I’ll then slowly reel it in working from the depths to the shallows. Pike normally come from the depths and push the bait towards the bank so they can hammer it. There’s always live bait in the systems I fish, but lately I’ve watched the pike hone in on my chartreuse and orange baits, even when there’s plenty of bait balls around. They have plenty of bait to choose from, but have been biting the colored ones.
Fortunately, for the pike this is a year-round fishery, and many of the walleye fisheries remain open for some time. In fact, the bass have been hammering them, too. This technique will be effective from now through ice over. And, even when the summer steelhead run improves these pike and walleye will still be available. This is one of the things I enjoy about Northern Indiana and Southern Michigan: there’s always plenty of fish to target. Now I’ve found a way for my bait to stand out amongst the endless amount of bait already in the systems – and it’s paying off.