By Chip Leer

As fall progresses and water temperatures plummet, deep clumps of coontail become hotbeds of northern pike activity.

Depth is relative to the lake, but 11 to 17 feet is a common range in many Upper Midwestern waters. Keys include finding isolated clumps of still-green coontail offering well-defined edges. Such areas concentrate pike in small areas, and are infinitely easier to efficiently fish than larger weedbeds.

Northland Fishing Tackle’s Mimic Minnow Spin is a great option for targeting these fish. Tipped with a 3- to 5-inch, securely skull-hooked sucker minnow, the jig can be cast or trolled, depending on the size of the weed clump you’re fishing.

For larger clumps, slow-troll the jig and minnow .7 to 1.2 mph just above the weed tops and along the edges, so it occasionally ticks the vegetation. When your jig contacts the weeds, snap the rod tip to rip it free. Hang on tight, because the resulting erratic action produced when the lure surges forward, then flutters back down often triggers a strike.

When fishing a smaller clump, or when pike tuck tight into the weeds following a severe fall cold front, casting is a good call. Cast out, let the jig fall to bottom and methodically retrieve it over the weeds, allowing it to helicopter down into open pockets and along the edges.

You can also position the boat directly over the weeds and vertically jig a Northland Weed-Weasel, tipped with a similarly-hooked sucker minnow.

A medium-heavy spinning outfit spooled with superline such as 15-pound Bionic Braid, tipped with a steel leader, works well with both the Mimic Minnow Spin and Weed-Weasel.

I personally favor a 7-foot, 1-inch rod, which has just the right length for working the jig, setting the hook and fighting beefy fall pike.

The deep coontail bite emerges in mid-summer and lasts until the vegetation dies off. Take advantage of this overlooked pike pattern and make this your best fall yet.

Based in Walker, Minnesota, noted fishing authority and outdoor communicator Chip Leer operates Fishing the WildSide, which offers a full suite of promotional, product development and consultation services. For more information, call (218) 547-4714 or email

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