Northern Pike are aggressive, predatory fish and some of the largest freshwater game available to target in North America.
These elongated carnivores are stealthy hunters that rely on the presence of vegetation for spawning, attacking and defending. They are an invasive and territorial species and they feed on all forms of marine life. In case prey is scarce, they will happily turn to cannibalism.
On acount of their innate aggressiveness, Pike are suppressed in some places so as not to disturb the aquatic balance. For example, in California and Maine it's illegal not to remove the head from a caught Pike. In other places however, such as the British Isles, they are highly revered as game fish and released back unharmed to preserve the stocks.
The species can grow up to 60'' and over 60lbs, but common catches will be between 3 and 7lbs.
When & Where
Northern Pike inhabit Arctic waters worldwide. They can be found in Alaska, throughout most of Canada and in the northern reaches of the US, south to Nebraska, Missouri and the Great Lakes. They also inhabit fresh waters throughout Europe and Russia, including the Baltic Sea, which is the only brackish fishery where they can be caught.
On sunny days, Pike can be found closer to the shore and on windy days, they will be deeper in. Spawning takes place in early spring, once the water becomes warm enough.
How to catch
Pike respond to a variety of bait. Natural options can be anything from insects to fish and the size should correspond to their prey size, which can be estimated according to the lake size. For smaller Pike, minnows will be good bait, while for larger ones perch-sized fish will be better.
Artificials are also successful, and these include various types of spoons, plugs, stickbaits and feather lures. A great rundown can be found here
. These can be trolled or cast.
Good to eat?
Excellent table fare, providing the skin is removed prior to cooking. Smaller fish are harder to fillet and many anglers release them due to their boniness.