30th Apr 2019

A guide to metro pike fishing on foot

Are all of your favorite streams blown out? Would you like to catch a nice pike on the fly? Within 20 minutes of our shop, there are a number of lakes and rivers that hold large pike. Don’t have a boat or kayak? Doesn’t matter. You’ve got options.

Things you will need.

  • If its cold or you don’t like weeds touching your bare legs and going between your toes, waders and boots are nice. Also allows you to fish out deeper and more effective.
  • You can get by with a five weight but a seven or eight is ideal for throwing bigger flies.
  • Intermediate sinking or a medium sink rate line. You could get by with a floating line and a fly with some weight to it as well. The goal is to get the fly down a little bit.
  • Long nose pliers! Yep, you will want those.
  • Wire leader, 20lb test. Yep, you will want that too.
  • Probably some band aids and rubbing alcohol in the car just in case.
  • Bug spray at times, it’s Minnesota.
  • A six-inch long, fire tiger colored fly is going to be your #1 producer. You’ll want to have at least six big 6-8 inch flies with you. Other good colors are black, white, yellow, red, and chartreuse.


  • Move around and cover lots of water!
  • Try different depths and colors.
  • Watch your moon phases!
  • Fish a few hours before a big thunderstorm.
  • Look for openings in weedy areas or larger open spots in the weeds that a pike could back itself into.
  • Think like a pike, where you would hang out to ambush an innocent baitfish.
  • If there is a weed island that is reachable with a cast drag your fly along both sides of them. Fish parallel to the outside edge of the weeds. Sometimes the fish can even be hanging out on the inside edge of the weeds (closer to the shore) so be sure to look before you just start blasting out into deeper water.
  • Look for submerged logs and timber or rocky outcroppings and fish all sides of them if possible.
  • Try a large popper at dusk if the water is flat calm or on darker cloudy days if the water is flat calm.

Where to go. 

Ok, its time to get in the water, where do we go? Red areas on maps = spots I have had success!

We’ll start with the Minneapolis chain of lakes. Cedar, Isles, Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun) and Lake Harriet. All of these lakes are public and hold some really nice pike. Calhoun has the best castability of all of these lakes, not much for trees in your backcast but I have nearly hooked the occasional jogger. Focus on the south end just beyond the weed line between the swimming beach and fishing pier. Also weave your fly between the sailboats in the northwest corner. Lake Harriet fishes well but there are many more trees around the lake to get hung up on your back cast and it gets much weedier around the shore. I have had my best luck on the north end. Lake Nokomis is another good one, great access around the entire lake, don’t hook a pedestrian on your back cast. It’s no secret anymore that when the water is high Minnehaha Creek can fish well! Tons of access on Minnehaha creek top to bottom, fish the deeper pools and log jam areas.

Just minutes from downtown Saint Paul is Pickerel lake. If you are willing to get creative with your wading skills, Pickerel can reward you with a nice sized pike.

Lake Phalen, shaped like a piece of edamame, can also reward with a nice bruiser of a pike or largemouth bass. Phalen has some nice spots to fish from and if you are willing to work a little and get mucky there are many more options. Most all the lakes we have shown you are fully public all the way around them.

Lake Johanna does not have much public shore access but it is worth a cast or two from shore in the park on the north end!

Good luck out there!