Big Hammer Northerns – Episode 442

If there was ever a surefire guarantee in fishing, it would be that Canada is home to the best Northern Pike fishing in the world. Pike can be found in every province and they can grow to monstrous proportions.

For this episode, Angelo headed to the province of Saskatchewan and in particular Lake Athabasca, a water body known for its giant Pike. His ultimate destination was Lakers Unlimited situated on Johnston Island.


It was the first week of July, a time when most people think Pike should be setting up in deep water. But remember, this is northern Saskatchewan and everything happens much later in the world of fishing. Additionally, this winter was long and drawn out with a very late spring.

Once settled in, and after a quick talk with lodge owner operator Captain Bruce, Ang set out for Grouse Bay. The fishing reports were very positive—Grouse had a bunch of fish.

As Ang proceeded into the bay, he tried the outer lead-in shores just in case the fish were moving out from the spawn. With no luck here, he knew they were still in the bay. That’s a good thing.

Upon entering the bay he caught what most would consider great fish. But since Ang was looking for a couple of giants, these were just warm-up fish.

“When I head into a big bay like Grouse, knowing there are huge fish around,” says Ang, “I usually have a variety of baits to work with: a topwater like Mighty Mo or a big buzzbait; a mid-runner like a swimbait or spinnerbait; and maybe a bottom bait like a big bucktail jig or giant tube.”


It didn’t take Ang long to figure out that swimbaits were the lure of choice. It was just a matter of refining the style.

“I started out with a weighted Castiac swimbait made in California, simply because the finish on them is incredible,” says Ang. “The problem was they were too heavy for the water I was in—around four to six feet deep. I was able to keep the bait where I needed to, which was about one to two feet below the surface, but in order to keep it there, I had to reel at a frantic pace. That’s good enough for smaller more active fish, but a bit too fast for the big ones.


“I found a small compartment of our swimbait box with about five or six baits called Big Hammer—also made in California. They’re an un-weighted swimbaits that can be rigged with either a jig head or a weedless wide-gapped hook. Since I needed something light, I went with a slightly weighted hook of a quarter-ounce. This would be just enough to act as a keel and allow a nice high-riding bait at a moderate pace.”

With that bait change and Angelo finding the perfect weed bed, he proceeded to catch some absolute monsters—fish in the 50-inch range. Luckily, while he was using the last shredded bait in his arsenal, the biggest fish smashed it. Perfect timing!

“What a trip,” says Ang. “Giant post-spawn Pike on crazy looking Californian swimbaits!”



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