Plenty of Pike
Inside the Outdoors, July 5
, 2013

There was a period in time when northern pike was one of those fish that was actually a stocked fish in one of our local waters. When anglers went to Donegal Lake, they weren’t sure what they may hook into, and that, fellow sportsmen and women, makes the sport more challenging.

Recently, I stopped in at the Sunoco Gas Station on Lincoln Avenue here in Latrobe and ran into a client I haven’t seen for quite some time. I say “client, because, for those who may not be aware, I had a fishing lure and tackle shop on Ligonier Street also in the city. So it’s definitely not a rare occasion when someone steps up to me and poses the question, “Have you been fishing lately?” and I have to think fast to see what information I can get, if any, that may be useful for upcoming columns. This time, I think I landed something that may be of interest to others.

Upon answering his question, I tried one of my “back door tricks.” I said, “Not really, but I’m thinking about going pike fishing. Where do you recommend I try? What do you think about those fish being in the Loyalhanna?” That was my double whammy, and it worked, believe it or not.

“I’ve seen some big pike in there,” he said. He then showed me the approximate sizes with outstretched arms. Can’t rightly say if he was exaggerating or not, but that gave me the idea that, at least, they were in that body of water and that was good enough for me.

I then contacted Dan McMaster at the Ligonier Outfitters and Newstand in Ligonier and asked him if he had seen or even heard of pike being in the Delayed Harvest Artificial Lure Project, to which he answered, “No.” I expected so, but then surmised that these creatures, after leaving Four-Mile Run, that takes them from Donegal Lake to the Loyalhanna, have either to go downstream or up. I have not hung around these fish at all to know how they think, trout yes, pike, no.

One of my neighbors recently informed me that pike like stagnant waters and stay away from the “fast moving stuff,” so that was a start, at least.

Someone told me that years back some anglers caught pike at Beaver Run Reservoir and then transported them up to Keystone State Park Lake and let them go, but I have never heard of anyone catching them there as long as I have been living in these parts, so I wonder if they died or were all caught in short order.

There are two lakes I know that for sure they exist – Conemaugh Lake Dam and Yellow Creek Lake, Indiana County. I nailed two in the Conemaugh. One of the two I brought home and ate.

One of the recommended baits is spinner bait. That is what I caught my 28-incher on, with a red and white head and white skirting. The most popular colors seem to be yellow, chartreuse and white, with silver or gold blades. Try fishing the edge of weed beds with them.

Other baits include shad, blue, silver and chartreuse Rattle Traps, 7” Rapala colored blue, silver, black and silver, and chartreuse, gold and silver Little Cleos (3/4 oz.), and dressed and undressed bucktail Mepps.

Daredevils have been a popular lure in the past. However, with that said, the manufacturer is making them thinner now, so they do not sink as well as they used to. If an angler does not wait until the count of 15, for example, the lure may just sink a couple of feet. It all takes getting used to.

Keep in mind, these fish have very sharp teeth and fins, so be careful how they are held.

When fishing for them, use a steel leader, as they will chew through one’s line. I was fortunate when I caught my fish. The line went between the teeth.

If you are after big northerns, fish where chad, walleye and bass hang out. These are three fish northern love to eat.

I think I’ll start fishing in the Loyalhanna with a large stream crayfish. Knowing these fish go after that bait as well as bass and trout, I’ll never know what I have until I get them in.

Oh, and one more thing. Please set your drag. It is so important, and may make the difference between breaking your line or displaying your lunker. And most of all, have a good time!

- Paul J. Volkmann
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