The Great Outdoors by James Murray

Column: Lowly northern pikeminnow a fun fishery for kids

Great Outdoors by James Murray

The other day I received a phone call from Salmon Arm Recreation Services general manager Donna Flatman informing that this year’s Kids’ Fishing Derby, which has taken place for 23 years down at the end of the wharf at Marine Park, has once again been cancelled due to COVID-19. I had been expecting the call.

On a more positive note, however, we did agree that if conditions permit, we will hold the derby again in 2022.

Later that day I found myself driving along Lakeshore Drive. I decided to head down to the wharf to take a look at the water levels. The lake is down quite a bit. As I walked along the wharf towards the far end I could feel the sun on my face. I could not help but feel grateful that I live in Salmon Arm – while so much of the world lives in turmoil.

Looking down over the rail at the lake I noticed two young kids fishing of the docks. They were about 15 feet apart. Maybe they were social distancing. Maybe they just didn’t want to snag each other’s lines. I shouted down to them and asked if they had caught anything.

“Just a couple of pikeminnows” they said. “But we haven’t been here very long.”

I gave them a thumbs up.

Few coarse fish are respected less and reviled more than the lowly northern pikeminnow. They are, after all, looked at as scavengers.

The pikeminnow’s diet varies. The young feed on plankton, insects and small fish such as salmonoid fries and shiners. Larger pikeminnows that live in deeper waters feed primarily on baitfish and other small fish such as immature trout and salmon. On light tackle they can provide excellent fishing for young anglers who are more interested in quantity over quality. A light spinning setup with six pound line is all that’s needed.

Read more: Column: Looking forward to a little self-isolating at the lake

Read more: Column: Firefly lanterns and farmer’s buried treasure

Northern pikeminnows usually inhabit shallow portions of rivers, lakes and streams and can be found pretty well anywhere throughout the province. Look for pikeminnows close to shore near structures such as rocks, logs, reeds, pylons and piers. They usually choose slower water where little or no current exists – areas where trout and salmon fry and fingerlings swim about during their growth stage, thus providing ampler food supply for the pikeminnow.

The Northern pikeminnow can be easily caught pretty well anytime from ice-off through to September and even October using a variety of tackle and techniques. The easiest way, especially for kids, is definitely float fishing. All they need is a bobber or light float with properly balanced weights, rigged up with a small hook and some bait such as bread, worms or roe. Cast the float out and strikes will usually occur within seconds if fish are present. This method is best used in calm waters or waters with very little current. Bottom fishing or bottom bouncing with roe can be used in waters where there is more current, but you do risk the chance of losing your tackle from snags on the bottom. Casting and reeling in with a spinning setup not only avoids snags but also has the advantage of generally hooking larger fish. Even aggressive feeders such as smaller pikeminnows will not attack a lure half their size. Popular lures include spoons and inline spinners. Choose your lures based on the colour of the water and the light intensity. If it’s cloudy and the water is dirty, I would go for a darker lure. If it’s sunny and the water is fairly clear, then a silver or bright lure is best. If baitfish are present, make sure the size of the lure matches the size of the baitfish. When retrieving your lure, try to keep it as close to the bottom as possible without snagging. Be prepared for pikeminnows to strike the moment your lure hits the water but also anytime during the retrieve. Jigging with small jig heads and rubbertails is also an effective method, but again you risk snagging on the bottom.

The very fact that the lowly northern pikeminnow can be caught so easily on a variety of tackle and techniques only goes to show that they really are the perfect fishery for young anglers just wanting to have some fun casting a line at the end of a dock.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Outdoors and Recreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Increased COVID-19 activity brings vaccine clinic to Enderby

Registration opens Tuesday, April 20 for May clinic for anyone over the age of 18

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

Seth Blackburn is recovering in Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops from a serious dirt bike accident on April 11, 2021 in which he was impaled by a small tree top. (Contributed)
Salmon Arm teen recovering from horrific dirt bike crash

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help family while one parent unable to work

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
‘Do not occupy’ order lifted, residents of West Kelowna apartment allowed to return home

The building was evacuated early Sunday morning due to a strange smell

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

Vernon Search and Rescue’s helicopter team was asked to be on standby to rescue a missing hiker in Naramata. (Air Rescue One/VSAR photo)
Lost hiker rescued in Okanagan Mountain Park

COSAR, PENSAR, and VSAR worked together to rescue a hiker in Okanagan Mountain Park

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

courts
Penticton man guilty of assaulting young boys

Bryan Lamb was found guilty of two counts of assault

Abandoned Rail Brewing Company, located at 1220 Davenport Ave. on the KVR trail, has applied to the City of Penticton for a manufacturing facility and lounge endorsement. The city will review the application in their April 20, 2021 council meeting. (City of Penticton photo)
A new brewery could be coming to the KVR trail in the South Okanagan

The patio would seat up to 113 just 10 feet from the trail

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Most Read