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Plenty of Pike to catch at Mosquito Lake

Published: Sat, April 20, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m.

I know relatively little about northern pike compared to bass, crappies and walleye, but one thing I do know is they are becoming more plentiful at Mosquito Lake.

Their thriving population in Mosquito is evident in the number of pike anglers catch fishing for walleyes, crappies and largemouths.

I have fished Mosquito three times in the past 10 days and have managed to bag five northerns. Imagine what an angler skilled in the tactics specific to pike might accomplish considering most of us are catching them accidentally.

Walleye are the big draw this month at Mosquito, but hungry northern pike are crashing their party. They also are busting up the tackle of crappie anglers dabbing tiny jigs in the brushy shallows.

Long established after accidentally being introduced in Mosquito more than 50 years ago, the northern pike appear to have found plenty of water suitable for spawning.

The fish I’ve seen this year and in past seasons are thick and healthy, a clear indication they are feasting on the abundant shad, perch and bluegills. It’s a certainty they also are eating small walleyes, bass, crappies and even young carp and catfish.

People sometimes ask what I recommend for pike fishing at Mosquito. I give them the same advice I share with those who inquire about catching muskies at West Branch: Just go bass fishing.

Like I said at the beginning, I know relatively little about pike fishing, but I know they love my bass lures as much as the muskies at West Branch like them.

The northerns I have hooked this year bit a spinnerbait, a bladed jig and plastics flipped into the brushy thickets. I have also caught them in past years on buzzbaits, hollow-body frogs, crankbaits and topwater walking baits.

Nothing quite equals the slashing attack of a northern pike convinced a big dancing topwater bait is a wounded fish looking oh so vulnerable. Little escapes the snaggled-tooth jaws of a hungry pike.

Thankfully, however, I was fortunate that one giant pike was a little too nearsighted. While bass fishing several years ago with a premium topwater lure, a huge northern rocketed up under the bait and knocked it five feet out of the water.

Startled by the attack, I jerked and the plug hurtled back at me. I ducked to avoid the flying treble hooks, reeled in the slack line and fired a cast back at the still boiling water. Fear immediately overcame me and I reeled the lure back to the boat as fast as possible to save the $20 lure from certain doom.

Local big game fish hunters like Chris DePaola and Max Case surely can give you better advice about finding, hooking and landing our area’s growing populations of muskies and northern pike.

But I can tell you that a good starting point is to simply go to Mosquito (for pike) or West Branch (for muskies) and throw your bass baits around the flooded willows and emerging aquatic weeds.

Anglers refer to them as “toothy critters” for good reason. Use stout rods and strong line – and fight the temptation to tie on your expensive lures unless you don’t mind losing them.

And by all means, keep your fingers away from those sharp teeth.

Jack Wollitz is a lifelong angler who loves to write about fishing in Northeast Ohio. He appreciates emails about his stories and your experiences. Email him at jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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