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Pike Fishing in Toronto

Pike Fishing in Toronto

It all started way back with this guy named Cousin George. For those of you who don’t know him, he had an urban fishing show in the late 80’s and early 90’s and was on the local channel Rogers 10.

Cousin George was the people’s choice kind of guy and was like an underdog who didn’t have all the fancy boats and gear but caught giant fish regardless. Coming from a similar urban background and not having much growing up, Cousin George was hero for us urban youth that loved to fish. I was about 9 or 10 years old when I first saw this guy on TV pulling out a giant pike from the Centre Island Bridge! I was so amazed and couldn’t believe my eyes! He had no boat and had drawn crowds around him. The crowds of people were just as amazed as I was. It was this actual episode that put me on my quest for giant urban pike!

I started out from the same spot Cousin George was fishing. The Centre Island Bridge was my starting point and made my way from there. It seemed as if the more water I fished, the more I seemed to find pike. I quickly realized that almost any castable shoreline in Toronto had pike potential!

When looking for pike in Toronto it pays to be very open minded about the different types of areas that pike can be found in. I have caught them in so many different scenarios in Toronto. For example I have caught pike in flat structureless basins along harbourfront, off of rocky piers in 30 feet of water in Humber Bay Park, in canals along the Island, in the Swan Pond on the Island, underneath Captain Johns Seafood restaurant/boat, off of Leslie Street Spit on deep weed lines, on humps in the main harbour, off of docks in almost every marina in Toronto and where ever else you can possibly imagine!

For this article I will focus on spring. The shallower calm areas tend to be better in the spring. The giant pike seek the calm shallow water where the light can penetrate easily. Basins, man made inlets and canals are great places to start this time of year.

The warmth from the sun actually works as a metabolism booster and can wake these giant sleepers. But sometimes these spring pike can be very frustrating. In the past, on many occasions I would be able to see these giants but had difficulty making these fish commit to a bait. I used to pitch spoons and spinnerbaits at them and most of the time the bait would whiz right past these sluggish giants without even an inch of movement. I cast everything at them until finally I tripped over the bait that would wake these sleeping logs and transform them into violent killers. The bait that has produced time and time again in the spring is a 3/8oz. black bucktail jig tipped with a six inch black and blue lizard. The key when working these baits is to let your bait settle to the bottom! Once settled, it is key to reel around three really fast turns of the reel and then stop it dead and after stopping it give a three stiff pops and continue this pattern. The fish can’t resist this thing kicking up the mud and disturbing the peace. It drives them nuts! The fish will usually smash it when you kill the bait after the speedy turns of the reel or in between the pops of the rod. This works excellent when sight fishing for them or when just randomly casting. If you can see them, try to angle yourself so that the tail of the fish is closest to you and the head is away from you. Cast past the fish and pop the bait over its head, they really love the bait from this angle for some reason. Another trick that I learned was shown to me by Paul Castellano from castadventures.ca. When you see a fish laying like a log on the bottom, cast a jerkbait with a leader (so that it sinks the bait and doesn’t get bit off) and cover it in scent (Bang, Megastrike etc). Then place it in front of one of these fish a few inches from their face and let it sit there for as long as it takes. I didn’t believe it when he told me but seeing is believing, the fish all of sudden wakes up and smashes the motionless bait off the bottom, its so amazing!

As for equipment, I like a 6′6″ medium/heavy spinning rod with 10lbs test fluorocarbon and a high speed spinning reel when fishing with the bucktail and lizard. With a spinning reel I can really crank the handle fast which helps make this burn and pause type presentation irresistible. Any 6″black and blue lizard will do and any 3/8oz. black bucktail will do. As for the jerkbait presentation, the same outfit spinning presentation will do fine but if you want to go heavier I suggest a 6′6″ medium/heavy rod with any baitcast reel with 17lb test. The lure that has been really hammering these fish is the Luckycraft 127mr in the American Shad colour. The detailed scale pattern and natural finish make it so deadly when it is sitting still on the bottom. 5″ Rapala Husky Jerks and Smithwick Rogues work too but this Luckycraft has been a special bait when it comes to this presentation.

Try these few things in a ‘hood (lol) near you and you may be very surprised what you can pull out of the downtown waters. As for the other three seasons that I forgot to talk about, well that’s another story…
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