As cold spring nights give way to longer and warmer days, pike and muskie action turns on — big time! An initial streak of early summer heat pushes surface water temperatures upward, concentrating all sorts of baitfish in newly emerging weeds and other shallow cover. Pike and muskie follow inward en masse, and go on one of the best feeding binges of the year.
Natural-lake locations for both pike and muskies are diverse in the early summer. Plenty of fish will be accessible in just about any weed-related spot. Large, weedy bays, weed-coated flats, and weeds on points all have good potential. The best weeds will contain lots of baitfish. However, don’t overlook shallow rocks for both pike and muskies, either.
Walleyes ravage schools of minnows and crayfish around shallow wave-pounded rock humps in the early summer. Bigger predators like pike and muskies will be nearby taking advantage of this whole affair, too. They might be feeding on the same minnow/crayfish forage as the walleyes, but the walleyes themselves will be high on the menu of bigger pike and muskies.
Find Rock Humps
Rock humps are productive in many natural lakes across North America, but the humps are most prevalent in Canadian waters. Huge groups of pike can be taken off any given rock hump in this situation, but rarely do they measure any larger than 35 inches. On the other hand, muskies over 50 inches will frequent these same rock humps.
Many of a natural lake’s biggest pike will totally divert from this shallow warm-water feeding binge and migrate to deep, cold open water forages instead. Trophy pike at this time will commonly inhabit the same locales as lake trout, feeding on ciscoes, tullibees or any other deep-water baitfish.
Activity and location can change dramatically in some natural lakes by mid-summer depending upon the lake’s latitude. In far-northern areas that contain pike but not muskies, these fish might continue to be active all summer long, changing their summer locations very little. They could shift slightly deeper in midsummer, but drastic locational changes probably may not occur. Yet, pike and muskies in southern reaches are subject to longer growing seasons along with much warmer waters. Their locations could change several times throughout the summer period, and the variables here are almost too numerous to mention.
The bulk of pike and muskies in their southernmost ranges suspend over open water at the peak of the summer heat. The biggest pike will separate from the rest of the pack, searching out deeper stretches of open water near cold-water forage. If the water remains fairly clear, free of heavy algae and plankton blooms, pike will continue to feed regularly. However, a thick algae bloom will shut pike activity down a great deal. Short feeding spurts during the brightest portion of midday are most common in this case.
Clear-water muskies will generally be most active during low-light periods and after dark whenever midsummer heat spells prevail. They’ll feed regularly over open water during daylight, but many will migrate onto shallow flats after nightfall. Midsummer muskies in darker waters feed intensely, but only for a very brief time just after sunrise and just before sunset.
Shorter Days Trigger Fish
In late summer (mid- to late August in most regions), the subtle shortening of daylight triggers some strong activity for both pike and muskies. In the northern reaches, these fish might not have ever changed their attitudes noticeably, but southern pike and muskie moods definitely have a very positive turnabout. Many professionals think pike and muskies react to this time period as a prelude to the upcoming fall.
Some of the biggest pike and muskies are caught during this overlooked time period. The vast majority of anglers consider these catches flukes, yet consistency demands a closer look.
The approaching full moon of late August seems to have a strong triggering effect on big pike and muskie movements. In fact, fish activity seems to climax at this time. Dormant deep-water pike of giant proportions are often spotted in shallow weeds. Huge, 50-inch muskies that are not seen for months suddenly follow lures with regularity.
The best locations for August pike and muskies are tied heavily to food sources. Usually, the most productive areas have a multi-forage base. Find a thick bed of emergent weeds on a large, mid-lake flat with visible signs of baitfish activity both in it, and in the deep water nearby, and you’re probably going to score big. Patches of deep-water bottom grass on an otherwise coverless clear lake can be a hot number now, too.
Oddly enough, some of the toughest natural lakes to fish produce the best during the month of August. The biggest pike and muskies in these waters move up onto shallower food shelves and become catchable, which is one of few times during the year. Knowing when this happens and capitalizing on it makes fishing truly exciting.
Leave a Reply
No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.
While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.