When it comes to pike, every season has got that really good time of day during which the fishing is at its absolute best. As those times differ quite a lot, I decided to write this seasonal guide on the best time of day for pike fishing, in order to save you time and help you land more fish.
During spring and fall, fishing between morning and noon will be the best time to catch pike. Very early mornings and evenings are your best picks during the summer, as water temperatures will be somewhat lower. On the other hand, in winter, the hours between the later mornings and middays will most certainly produce the most bites.
Keep reading this article to get all the important and helpful details for each and every season.
Best Time of Day for Pike Fishing in Spring
The nights are usually still cold during this time of year, and daytime temperatures aren’t that high yet either. As the sun stands higher and higher and warms up the water a little more with every passing morning, fishing during that time of day can significantly up your chances of catching pike.
While the fish remain rather inactive during the evenings and nights, life under the surface will start to thrive during mornings and middays.
Both insects, prey fish, and hence even the predators will have their most active time of day when the sun warms the water, feeding and getting ready for the upcoming spawning season.
The pike’s metabolism rises and falls with the water temperature, which is why it’ll be at its most active between morning and noon, when the now stronger sun, or a mild, overcast spring day, causes the water temperature to increase.
An even slightly higher water temperature will equal a faster swimming speed, an increased migratory behavior, and a greater appetite in pike, especially after a long and cold winter.
Targeting them between morning and noon will often yield the best results and it is not uncommon to experience pike hunting and entering a feeding frenzy during this time of day.
Pro Tip: In spring, hit shallow areas, bays, and river mouths first, as they will warm up even faster and attract both prey fish and hungry predators to them early in the season!
Get to the bank just before first light hits so you’ll be ready for that first feeding round, fish through the first half of the day, and then pack up around noon, should the action dial down, as it most likely will not return that day.
If you continue to get bites, you should of course keep fishing. But if you have a limited amount of time to spent on the bank and want or need to optimize your fishing time, stick to the hours between morning and midday in the springtime!
Best Time of Day for Pike Fishing in Summer
While you should focus on daytime fishing during the rest of the year, when it comes to summer pike fishing, very early mornings and evenings to late evenings will now be a far better choice.
In colder water conditions, oxygen levels are always high, but fish activity is still greatly reduced to the somewhat warmer daytime hours, due to lower water temperatures during the rest of the day. During the summer, the exact opposite holds true!
Now, the water temperature is much higher, both during the day and night, but the oxygen levels below the surface are often critically reduced.
Pro Tip: Keep to deeper lakes or rivers, as deeper, as well as moving water, will be somewhat cooler in summer, and hence hold a little more oxygen!
They will rise slightly only if and when the water temperature is somewhat lower, which, in summer, can only be the case when the sun is not shining, or when it stands very low.
Hence, if you want to have a successful summer pike fishing session, you will either have to be an early bird or a late evening person! It is in the very early hours of the day, as well as in the late ones, that the pike’s activity will be at its highest.
Personally, I would not target pike during warm summer days at all, as the reduced level of oxygen in the water has such a negative impact on the fish’ feeding behavior and activity.
Pro Tip: A good rule of thumb is to fish for summer pike only during the times of day that you yourself do not consider being too warm. Call it a day as soon as that morning sun gets too hot, and start fishing again in the evening when the day’s heat is retreating.
It is during summer that night fishing for pike can be highly rewarding as well. If you are fishing an evening session that is rather productive and are planning to head out again early next morning, consider turning your trip into an overnighter (which, in summer, will be quite short anyway).
Best Time of Day for Pike Fishing in Fall
Much like during spring, fall fishing is once again all about morning and midday action. As night- and daytime temperatures are leveling out again, the pike are slowly shifting back to hunting and feeding in broad daylight.
The colder it gets, the more they’ll need the day’s warming sun and milder temperatures in order to stay as active as possible, and the period between morning and noon is the prime time to target them this time of year.
But, unlike the spring, early fall can hold a few aces up its sleeve even during the early hours of the afternoon! As the sun is still standing higher and has some of its summer strength in it, warm fall afternoons are something rather common, and occasionally, pike will hunt during that time of day as well.
Another advantage of fall fishing is that water temperatures go from high to low, as opposed to spring, meaning that the pike enter this season full of energy.
Their metabolism will only decrease slowly, together with the decreasing temperatures of the progressing fall, giving you plenty of opportunity and time to catch them.
Pro Tip: Try fishing both shallow and deeper areas now and most importantly, find the baitfish! Both prey and predators can now be all over the place, but pike will concentrate around big schools of baitfish now! If you fish on the edges of such schools, you will get plenty of bites!
And speaking of fall; this season actually happens to be the very best time to catch northern pike!
Fall – The Best Time of Year to Catch Pike
If you’d ask me which of the four seasons that I have written about in this piece would be the absolute best one for pike fishing, my pick would undoubtedly be the fall!
Both air and water temperatures are slowly dropping, which means that the fish have plenty of time to feed and prepare themselves for the upcoming winter. And trust me, feed they will!
Not only are the pike fattening up for the cold winter months, but the big mammas are also starting their egg production for the spawning season after the winter, which means that they will need plenty of energy!
After the warm summer months, the pike will be overly eager to hunt and feed, and their active period during fall is rather long, stretching well into november, and sometimes even december.
So, this season does offer both plenty of hungry and active predators, as well as a prolonged time of targeting them, making fall the perfect time to hunt and catch pike!
Best Time of Day for Pike Fishing in Winter
Pike fishing in winter, be it on open water on through the ice, can be very productive and rewarding if you are fishing at the right time of day! Ideally, this would be the hours between late morning and noon.
Winter, much like spring and fall, equals cold nights and, quite often, somewhat warmer temperatures during the day, which is when the pike will be feeding this time of year.
In such harsh conditions, pike will only feed during short periods of time, and most, if not all of these, will occur during the first half of the day.
Roughly speaking, this gives you a rather small window of opportunity of perhaps 4 or 5 hours, so you better make sure your timing is right!
In winter especially, optimizing your precious fishing time is absolutely essential, as you have so little daylight and possible chances to catch pike!
Pro Tip: Avoid fishing during the late afternoons or in the dark during the winter months! As the pike seem to be totally inactive during those periods, you’ll be wasting your time!
Two other crucial elements are fatigue and motivation. Both open water and ice fishing will most likely be done in cold weather conditions that will reduce your body’s energy level over time, meaning that fishing in winter can be more demanding than during the rest of the year.
So, if you head out in the middle of winter and fish during the wrong hours, which will more likely than not result in you blanking, you will be both tired and demotivated and perhaps decide not to fish any more winter sessions because of that.
As pike fishing in winter can be absolutely amazing, and as have the chance to catch really big fish, you’d definitely not want to miss out on that! And the easiest and surest way of avoiding an abrupt end to your winter pike adventures is to keep to that best time of day!
What Is the Best Weather for Pike Fishing?
Regardless of the season, the best possible weather conditions for pike fishing include the following:
- Southern or Southwestern winds
- Overcast skies (and even light drizzles)
- Falling barometric pressure (as well as a stable low-pressure system)
- Milder air temperatures (during both warm and cold seasons)
If you target days with all of the above mentioned weather factors, or at least a couple of them, you will significantly increase your chances of having a successful pike fishing session!
Cloudy, or somewhat rainy days with a present low-pressure system tend to lead to feeding frenzies and can mean really fun and action-filled pike fishing! Always look for such weather patterns!
On the other hand, resists the urge to go fishing on days that include the following weather patterns:
- Cold Northern or Northeastern winds
- Clear and sunny skies
- High barometric pressure systems
- Sub-zero temperatures
Skipping days and weather like that will save you from blanking and frees up more time for those good pike weather sessions!
The content of this article is best on both extensive online research and my personal 20+ years of pike fishing experiences. I, as well as countless other anglers, have spent thousands of hours on the bank, fishing through all the hours of the day, catching, or not catching pike.
The times of day described above are the results of those numerous sessions, successes, and failures. While they are very accurate, they, of course, still leave room for exceptions, which is something to keep in mind when you’re out on the bank.
Each and every venue is different and the pike’s hunting and feeding periods can undoubtedly differ as well.
So, while these times of day work in many venues, they must not necessarily work in yours specifically. I’d always start with these best times of the day and then expand if you fail to get any bites at all.
The main goal of Strike&Catch is to help you, the reader, catch more and bigger fish, and to optimize your fishing time as much as possible. I sincerely hope that I have accomplished this by writing this article and wish you the tightest of lines!
Featured image courtesy of Catalin Rusu