Northern Pike French River Fishing Tips

Trophy Northern Pike fishing in Canada is among the most exciting experiences any angler should hook into. In my experience fishing the French River, Pike that grow to 28+ inches develop personalities like Muskie. They can explode into action with ferocity like their prized cousin and give anglers a great fight to reel in.

With their voracious appetite, there are plenty of opportunities for Pike fishing in Northeastern Ontario. Below are some simple fishing tips to land your next trophy.

Important Tips for Pike Fishing

  1. Location – Pike are aggressive hunters and will strike your lure within their territory. Weeds lines, bottlenecks and rocky drop offs allow these fish to ambush unsuspecting prey. If you are catching small pike, turn around and fish over deeper water. Larger Pike will eat smaller ones, just like how Muskie feed on them. If fishing is slow in one area, move to the next.
  2. Pike Fishing Rod – Northern Pike grow very large and can grow up to 40+ inches on the French River. You need proper equipment for landing large fish. We recommend 30 – 50 lbs. braided line on a Medium to Heavy action fishing rod. A baitcasting or spinning reel with 15 – 20 lbs. of drag will be enough for any fight you reel in.
  3. Heavy Leaders – Pike have sharp gill plates and are equipped with many flesh piercing rows of teeth. In short, they can easily cut or bite through most freshwater fishing lines. Save your lures and your catch with a good steel leader. Use 6 – 8 inch steel leaders for casting, while longer steel leaders work well for those trolling.
  4. Presentation – Lure colour and swimming action matter for light and weather conditions. Northern Pike are sight hunters. During bright days, use brighter coloured lures such as white or chartreuse. During overcast or evenings, switch to dark colours like black and brown. Pike also loves anything flashy and shiny, attracting an attack as you reel your lure in.
  5. How to Land & Hold a Pike – Fishing nets help you to land a fish safely. I have a more detailed article of how to land and hold a pike. Yet, to keep this short: remove your hooks first then hold the fish horizontal. Be careful of the fish’s teeth and gill plate as you remove them from the net. Larger fish have heavier organs. Thus, support the fish horizontally during your picture taking.
Young man holding a French River Northern Pike with green pine trees in the background and water around the fishing boat. The Northern Pike is being held properly in a horizontal hold.
Youth angler holding a 36 inch French River Northern Pike

When to Fish for Northern Pike?

Northern Pike are caught throughout the fishing season on the French River. No one knows when they may land a trophy sized fish. Yet, most big Pike are caught in the early spring and late-summer through fall. 

What is the Difference Between Muskie & Pike?

A great question and one that has been answered here. In short, their size and markings are the differences. Muskies will grow larger than Northern Pike. For the French River, you are more likely to see a 50+ inch Muskie than a 40+ inch Pike.

Why Wait? Fish Now!

Fish are plentiful in the French River. With these fishing tips, you will be able to catch a trophy Northern Pike on your next get-away. Big game Pike are waiting to entice you in Northeastern Ontario.

Article by: Joe Barefoot, M.B. – Published Outdoor Writer and Photographer with over 15 years of experience in the outdoor tourism industry.

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