Tackle: To plunk bait, you will need lead weights from one-half ounce to 2 ounces, depending on the current. Bank sinkers are most commonly used. Number 2 hooks are recommended.
To rig sliding sinkers, you will need swivels to act as a stop. Plastic beads can be used between the weight and swivel to protect the knot. With two swivels, you can rig a sliding dropper (see rigging illustrations below). For drift-fishing baits, you will need weights ranging from one-eighth to one-half ounce. Use hollow-core lead wire pinched on the drop-line, or lead shot inside a hollow fabric cord, and a small float to keep the bait off the bottom.
Bait: Worms are the most common northern pikeminnow bait. Chicken liver is the next most popular bait. Make sure it is fresh and keep it cold to prevent it from getting too soft to stay on the hook. Cut-bait (strips cut from fish), fish entrails, skin from fried chicken, salmon eggs, grasshoppers, crayfish tails, and shrimp are also popular.
How to Fish: There are three primary methods of fishing with bait for northern pikeminnow:
- Plunking: This is the most popular method. Use just enough weight to hold the bait in position against the current. A variation of plunking is to use a little less weight so the bait slowly “walks” with the current.
- Back-bouncing: Lift the bait off the bottom by raising the rod tip 1 to 2 feet. Free spool or back reel to allow the bait to move with the current. Repeat these steps when the bait settles back to the bottom. Back-bouncing is especially effective from a boat and can be used in deep water.
- Drift-fishing: Use the same technique and rigging used for steelhead drift-fishing.