2 - 28 pounds
16" - 54"
The Northern Pike (Esox Lucius) is a popular freshwater gamefish known for its voracious carnivorous nature. It got its name from its elongated body that resembles a pike (a medieval pole weapon) and its northern hemisphere habitat. Aside from its serpentine shape, it can easily be recognized through its grey to greenish color that fades to yellowish-white belly and the distinctive uneven rows of yellowish to white specks that run across its body.
As already mentioned the Northern Pike is a voracious hunter and is mostly aggressive, especially when it comes to food. It mainly preys on other fishes including golden shiners, yellow perch, bluegills, suckers, and even other Northern Pikes. Larger ones have also been known to snatch small waterfowls, frogs, and rodents with its large mouth lined with sharp teeth when these unknowing victims are swimming on the surface or if they get too close to the edge of the water.
The Northern Pike is an angler’s dream because not only does it have mildly sweet tasting meat, catching one can be very rewarding as it’s known to be a tough fighter. If you happen to catch one, however, you should always keep your distance from its mouth as its dagger-like teeth can definitely cause significant damage to anything it can clamp itself to.
Northern Pikes are strong swimmers but they are not actually known for their speed as it can only swim at an average of eight to ten miles per hour. It may not be as fast as other species; it has, however, the ability to sudden high-energy starts that they use for ambushing preys or for escaping life-threatening situations. As for the size, it can also grow up to three feet long and weigh as much as fifty pounds on average; but it can grow larger, especially in the Great Lakes area.
As the name suggests, Northern Pikes are mostly found throughout the northern half of North America with a higher population in the Great Lakes, northern New England, eastern New York, Minnesota and the Ohio Valley. You can also find them in the states of Nebraska and Missouri, and as far north as Alaska and Canada.
And because they’re ambush predators, one can find pikes in cool, shallow areas of streams, lakes, and rivers that are heavily vegetated as this is where they usually hunt for preys. They, however, head to the deeper water when the climate gets too hot in the summer.
With its aggressive nature and its strong swimming ability to boot, catching a Northern Pike can be a daunting challenge. But if you’re well equipped, you’re chances of catching one can drastically increase and will make it more so rewarding. Here are some tips that we hope could help you out in landing this monster of a fish:
Northern Pikes are not known to grow very big so a 7-foot, medium-action rod, paired with a regular spinning reel with a drag system that can stand a maximum drag of at least 15 pounds are more than enough to handle the fish. Equip your rod and reel with a more durable 15 to 20-pound braided line so that the chances of the pike’s sharp teeth breaking the line will be at a minimal. And because this fish is known to be voracious eaters, various lures such as soft plastic swim-baits, inline spinners, and spoons can easily attract the fish. Just make sure to reel in at a slow, consistent speed so that your lure would look like an injured fish. Also, Pikes are known to play with their food. So when you feel a strong tug on your line, don’t reel it in too fast. Just keep reeling at a slow pace and wait patiently for the Pike to strike again.
Lastly, the ideal places to cast your line out are inlets, bays, coves, and drop-offs that have shallow, marshy areas with an abundance of weeds as these are where Northern Pikes usually hunt for food.