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Since the other Sucker thread got off wack due to my interjection, it’s only fair to further discuss this in a new thread.

I guess I’m curious to hear firsthand reports from guides and or residents on the lake who have fished the lake for 20 years or so. I’m not really interested in why or what people might think is the reason, just basically a yes/no.

To quantify my opinion, I grew up on the East end of the lake fishing basically every day in the summer ('78-‘88). Mostly Walleye, but quite a bit of Pike mixed in. Later on I worked at a resort on the West end ('88-‘92) and again fished 3-4 days a week. This was strictly Northern fishing which resulted in a lot of Muskies being caught by default.

Only in the past 6 or 7 years have I not spent a good deal of time fishing the lake, but have quite a few close ties that fish the lake often and I hear the reports.

During that late 80’s period. It was common to catch multiple 10+lb fish a night with a couple of high teens mixed in. I would say a 20 pounder was caught once every 2 weeks or so. There would also be a few mid to high 20’s that were caught with an occasional (but I would say rare) 30 pounder (1-2 per year). There was one fish found floating nearby the resort that was mid to high 30’s maybe even close to 40.

Are people still seeing fish this size and numbers of them?

From what I’ve heard the answer is no.

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I've also been very interested in this, Darren, and will look forward to replies from those with long-term V experience.

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I think it is better now for big fish although haven't caught the numbers of smaller ones in the last few years. Although I don't target pike exclusively I've fished V every year since 84'

I have some rabid muskie fishermen friends who's opinions echo mine.

My cabin neighbor used to fish exclusively for pike/muskies and eat any 10+ lb pike he caught. That was before mercury contaminent studies. A few like him could make a big impact in a lake's trophy fish.

Steve

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YES!

I caught two 20lb class fish within 15 minutes on the same spot fishing wally last fall.

They were the biggest pike I've ever seen since I started angling on Vermilion (1984)

Since I've started fishing muskie, I see alot more Pike.

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Yes the number of big pike is down.

This isn't a Vermilion problem but a state wide problem, pike grow slow.

My personal expierence on Vermilion dating back to the late 60's

You could catch 20+ pound pike (every week) across the lake during the 70's. The late 70's and early 80's vermilion became very popular for the trophy spear chuckers, many 20-30lb class fish were taken during this time, the necked down areas of the lake were door to door with spear houses. Mid 80's came the crayfish and the results were the loss of pike habitat. Late 80's and throughout the 90's came the increase in anglers and developement. Now the biggest threat to the large pike (10 -15 pounds)is the angler and the whitefish nets. I say 10 -15 pounds because I believe most of the giants of the past are gone and 10 -15 pounds is the modern day "BIG PIKE"

I don't believe one thing contributed to the decline in numbers of big pike but I do think it's all of the above actions combined plus other I haven't listed.

Every year the DNR and the Sportsmen's Club of Lake Vermilion operate the Sunset Creek Northern Pike Spawning Area. I can't remember how long they have been doing this or how many pike they handle but I bet they have seen a decline in size over the years.

It's a good thing the DNR found another large fish (muskie) that grows relatively fast to replace the big pike of yesteryear.

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I spend 3-4 weeks a year on the far east end of Vermilion every year fishing mostly pike and muskies. We catch a few 10-12 lbers every year and the occasional 15-18 lber but they are really few and far between. We have no trouble catching hammer handles, but have been unable to get on a big fish pattern. We have only been fishing Vermilion for the past 8 years so I can't compare our results to historical results, but I feel that Vermilion has the structure and forage to produce more big fish than what we have been able to contact. This may be more a product of our fishing ability than of the fishery.

53orbigger

That's all I ask!

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between Cliff and I we probably get 1-3 40+ inch pike just lindy rigging or trolling cranks for walleyes in deeper water on the East end.. the big girls are definately out there..

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Gentelmen,

Without trying to toot my own horn here, I spend a great deal of my time guiding for Pike on the east end. I would wager I spend more of my time targeting Pike than any guide on the Lake, east or west.

For that reason, I consider my self an expert on the subject of Pike in Lake Vermilion. The

habitat on he east end indeed has changed over the years but it isn't gone. DNR statistics show that Pike populations on the east end are at historical averages and that the east end averages larger fish than the west end. The west end however does have higher numbers on average, than the east end.

IT's been my experience that the Pike fishing right now is as good or better than it ever was in my liftime. I have been fishing Vermilion as an adult since the late 60's. Childhood memories have little bearing on the true facts in my own opinion.

My clients and I catch numbers of Pike in the 20+lb class every year. Some while we are targeting Muskies, however most are caught while we are targeting Pike. It's true that there has been some habitat loss, but the prime spawning bays are still intact. Most of the larger Pike don't relate to the weeds after the end of the spring cool water period.

Large mid-summer Pike relate to their primary food sources like toulibee and whitefish. On occasion you'll find one in the shallow weeds, during a prime feeding window like the perch hatch or some other big feed bag period. Primarily my largest Pike all come off of mainlake structures like rock piles or island saddle areas.

Habitat changes have more of an effect on anglers than the fish they are persuing. The large Pike have adapted to the changes and anglers need to do the same thing. Were do you think all the fish went that used to be in the cabbage beds on the east end? They didn't just disapear, they adjusted to their changing conditions by relating to some other structural elements and other cover.

I can't help but smile when I hear that there aren't any weeds left on the east end of the lake. True, it's not what it used to be. There aren't any midlake humps or saddles with cabbage beds on the east end any more. Many of the best cabbage areas north of Pine are all but gone now and it is different. Thre are however a number of fantastic pencil reed beeds, lilly pads, and coontail beds, that still hold lots of good Pike in the 6 to 12lb range on a regular basis.

If you're having some trouble finding weeds on the east end try these, Greenwood bay, Pike bay, Armstrong bay, Bystrom bay, the entire north arm of Big bay,(north of Pine island) the Hinsdale narrows, Mud Creek bay, Matison bay, Cable

bay,or Sweedtown bay. They shoud keep you busy for most of next summer. smile

The slot has helped a great deal in the last few years. I have a few Pike clients that want to keep a couple very year for the frying pan. It has been getting tougher and tougher to catch fish under the 24 inch slot size, at least where I'm fishing anyway.

So, I vote "YES", there are still a good number of large Pike in Vermilion. Including that one over 50 inches that somebody is going to catch some day and I hope it's me.

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Primarily my largest Pike all come off of mainlake structures like rock piles or island saddle areas.

If you're having some trouble finding weeds on the east end try these, Greenwood bay, Pike bay, Armstrong bay, Bystrom bay, the entire north arm of Big bay,(north of Pine island) the Hinsdale narrows, Mud Creek bay, Matison bay, Cable

bay,or Sweedtown bay. They shoud keep you busy for most of next summer. smile

hence the catching while walleye fishing..

and I agree on the weeds.. many are not real pretty cabbage you might be looking for..but they still hold many species of fish most definately!

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Well I'm glad to see my thinking is wrong on this. Good input. I would say that my experience has mirrored what joneson has posted.

One of my favorite spots to target them was near Fectos, is that big bed still there?

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I like what Guideman said about the structure he fishes. I mainly musky fish Vermilion but catch beautiful pike every year. Big pike are different than smaller ones. They suspend down into cooler water by the thermocline. I catch them when I'm around structure and then troll the deep water off that structure. The trolling a bit away from structure always does it and when I get a big one out there it's almost always a pike rather than a muskie. Since I started doing that, I've had a couple of days where I've caught multiple 40 inch fish. I want you guys to start trolling out there. It will get you lots of pike and keep you more away from my muskies!!!

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I have noticed that the pike have been getting thinner. They used to be alot heavier per inch than they are now, from what ive seen and who Ive talked to.

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Iv'e been going every July for 15 years for a week out of Vermillion [PoorWordUsage]. Last year I landed 9 feet of northerns in a few casts out in the channell on a Super Shad Rap. In the early nineties I had a hard time catching a pike trolling around the hole north end.

So if you ask me the slot is working and the pike are big. I second the long and skinny compared to my smelt fed Burntside pike.

I would love to hear more about the Sunset spawning grounds. I drive over it and fish sunset every year but never hear about the spawn. Buler

Hans

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I have been fishing Pike on Vermilion since 74, although not all summer but for a couple of weeks. The last few years, maybe 6 or so, it has been my perception that the pike fishing is worse. But maybe I am guilty of fishing memories.

On the west end trolling big floating raps at high speed over rocks in late summer used to pop a big pike now and then. This hasn't worked for the last few years.

I blamed it on the Musky fishermen who pounded spots I used to have almost to myself. Ace has inspired me to try some different stuff and different places next year. And now that I am retired I have more time to mess around.

On the other hand, I do pick up a musky now and then in my old pike spots.

So I am open to suggestions on the west end. Are weed patches the answer? Or have they always been in deep water off rocks and the ones I caught on weeds were stragglers that just aren't there anymore?

Conditioned to spinnerbaits?

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Hey Del,

welcome to the wonderful world of retirment. Just think of all he extra time you'll have now to just go fishing.

I don't think that they are conditioned to spinnerbaits at all. I catch a majority of my Pike on spinnerbaits and they didn't show any shyness while hitting them last summer. The west end does fish a little different than the east side.

I like to fish the mainlake points when I'm up on the west side for Pike. There are some great Pike spots in Head of the lakes and Wakemup that very few Pike anglers fish on a regular basis. The Wakemup Narrows can also be very good if the traffic isn't to bad.

"Ace"

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delcecchi - you bring up a good point. If something isn't working, try something new. We all get hung up on our favorite spots and favorite methods and then blame anything we see for the lack of fish.

I suck at fishing. I'm getting better every year. I tend to get the best results when I put away my bread-winning lures and go away from my hotspots to try something new. I always get surprised by a catch I wasn't expecting.

Try something different!

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I don't often target pike but when I do it seems I always can boat at least one or more fish in the 35-42 inch class plus other smaller ones. Some times you have to think outside the box to get them. I believe the pike population is in good shape and that the slot has helped. You occasionally see a skinny one but these are usually shallow fish. Some real chunky ones from deeper water or in the fall. grin

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I've caught a lot of 40" pike over the years, non were over 20lbs, most were probably under 15 lbs. I have to agree with some that the really big pike that use to rome the lake are mostly hystory. That doesn't mean the pike fishing is bad it just means don't expect to catch a 30lb pike.

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Even a skinny 40 inch Pike should weigh more than 15lbs.

The Big ones are still out there you just need to look in some new places to find them. We still get 10lb Pike off the end of my dock in Pike bay on occasion and it's only 3ft deep.

With all of the added fishing pressure in the last few years they just aren't as easy to catch. Most of the time, all it takes is a little change in tactics or your presentations, to get the same results you had in the past. I know if I went and checked my log book, there would be at least 15, 40 inch Pike in there from last summer. Including a 44" and a 42" that I caught on the 4th of July on guess what? a white spinnerbait. smile

It's hard to make judgments on the Pike fishery when you only get to fish one or two weeks a year. You may have just picked a bad week, maybe the bite was off, or the fish were on some other food source, away from their normal locations. I'll end it here, so you guys won't get sick of hearing it.

I still think that the "Big" Pike fishing is just fine on the Big V, and that it's only going to get better with the slot. smile

"Ace"

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Spots in Head o Lakes would be great since that is close to our cabin. Never fished points much. You mean like Hibbing point? Do you fish near the end? Likewise, the ends of islands ought to be good also, right?

I fish reefs and I fish weeds, mostly. This year I will try some different stuff.

As for Wakemup narrows, I don't know where to start other than the Wash. Supposed to be good for smallies by treasure Island or whichever one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I've caught less pike in the 40 inch category in recent years. In the late 70's and through the 80's I'd catch big pike while fishing walleyes, and by targeting them with Daredevils and Doctor Spoons.

When I started muskie fishing on Vermilion in 1997, it was common to catch pike in the 35 to low 40 inch class, with some going 44 to 46 inches. On several occasions, we caught a half dozen pike from 36 to 43 inches in a single day.

While trolling and casting for muskies in the fall, we commonly caught pike in that same size range. As the whitefish and tullibee began to stage near their spawning areas, and through the spawn itself, the big pike were right there with the muskies. Again, it was a common occurrence to catch good numbers of them, and this held true on both the east and west end.

As we moved into the new decade, the catch of big northerns decreased. It gotten to the point where we're catching a few of them over 40 inches in the summer and again in the fall. Similar to Casey's experience, we also get a couple each year jigging, live bait rigging, running cranks, and downrigging for walleyes.

The past few years we've been catching more pike from 35 to 40 inches on the west end, many of them in the weeds. I know another guide, Bill Rosner, has done very well on big pike recently.

On the east end, my catch rate on large pike has stayed the same since about 2003. One interesting note: In the period from 1997 to 2003, I didn't catch many small pike, other than while targeting walleye.

During those years, most of the northerns caught while casting or trolling were good sized fish. This includes weed work, as well as trolling and casting shallow rock structure, primary, and secondary breaks, and open water basins. Over the last few seasons, we've caught many small pike in these areas, many more than in the past.

My biggest pike have come in the fall casting and trolling break lines and reefs, and the adjacent open water areas. It makes sense because the apex predators are always going to key on the spawn of the pelagic whitefish and tullibee. The number of big ones has been down in the fall for the last six or seven seasons, but we've caught more pike in the 25 to 35 inch class.

The big pike key on tullibees during warm water periods as well. I don't think many people concentrate on fishing deep water basins for pike in mid summer, but they're out there.

Paul.

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From someone who has been coming up for 8 years every mid-August for one week on the west end, I've seen what appears to be a benefit already from the protected 24-36" pike slot. Last year, got a 32", 33", 35", and 41" from a mixture of weed edges, rocky point off an island, and trolling 18 foot flats. And a number of pike in the 24-29" range. It seemed like before the slot, I'd maybe get one 32"+ a year. Hopefully there will continue to be more and more gators. I fish for nearly all species when there and spend half my time playing with my kids, but as you can see from my handle, my true love is catching large pike. Here's my 41" from last year, and my wife's 35". 100_0630.jpg100_0625.jpg

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Those are some nice gators der vasservolf! I really hope they don't change the law and allow the spearing of northerns in the slot and ruin what is happening to the resource.

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Oh no. Not this again.....

Amen to that Del! frown

Cliff

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Why the @$%^! do they even allow the spearing of northern? How do you know if the fish is over or under the slot size? Can you tell if if is a Ski or a Muskie or for that mater what the length is peering down the hole? There is sure not much chance of catch and release by spearing. I just don't get it.

Any one out there to defend spearing, please post so I can see your side. OK so maybe let the natives spear out of tradtion but by the limit set by the DNR. I even have a hard time with that. Guezz it's 2009 and not the 1800! Other than that I just don't get it.

StillFishin'

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If you want to discuss spearing, there is a forum dedicated to that. Lots of good info over there.

http://www.fishingminnesota.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forums/119/1/Bowfishing_Spearing

If you want to discuss the postitives and negatives of spearing or argue about it. Start a new thread in the Outdoor Discussion Forums.

http://www.fishingminnesota.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/forums/67/1/Outdoor_Discussion_Clean_ups_a

I started this thread as curiousty to see what "everydayers" are seeing out there in terms of Pike numbers and sizes compared to years past, not to argue the why or why nots.

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