The Genus Esox:
Northern Pike – If your looking for Fishing Tips for these Huge Predators you came to the right place. The very popular Freshwater Sport Fish known as Northern Pike Fish or Pike Fish as they are referred to are species of carnivorous fishes of the genus esox (the pikes). Northern pike are known to be typical of both brackish and fresh waters located in the Northern Hemisphere and a popular game fish in North America.
Get some great northern pike fishing tips and tricks with valuable pike fish information. Learn how to handle Northern Pike for your sake and theirs. Watch out for those razor sharp pike teeth and you will find out how and why you need to be extra careful. Lets take a detailed look at this alluring and vicious hunter of the weed beds.
Northern Pike Fish Facts
Pike Fish Size
Northern Pike grow to a relatively large size with an average length of 28–47 in and sometimes up to 59 in and a weight of around 25 kg or 50 plus lbs. That’s a pretty nice size fish for freshwater predator, Right? Yes we would agree.
The northern pike gets its name from its resemblance to the pole-weapon known as the pike (from the Middle English for pointed).
Pike Fish are known for their unusual and sudden attacks from seemingly out of nowhere. They are often stalking unsuspecting prey fish with the ability to devour and eat other fish up to 2/3rd’s their own length. You can just imagine then what a 50” fish could eat then right? Yup, seen pike and musky both attacking big suckers in the river and gulping them down.
What do Northern Pike Fish Look Like?
No denying the fact that most fish are predators, but northern pike seem to have been created and evolved for the part: needle sharp teeth, vacant eyes, thick slime coating their body, and a slender, serpentine shape. Not some friendly features, I know but man what a beautiful fish. If you ever latch into a big one you may not even know it! More later on that….
Northern Pike Fish are Aggressive
That is not even enough; they also have fast swimming speed, a bad attitude (yes, really bad one), and a face full of teeth, ready to aggressively attack anything that comes around. Yup, been sitting by the water many times near the marsh and watched the ducklings each year get hammered by pike on the surface.
Water gurgle, tale slapping the surface, and cute little yellow duck gone. Swans and ducks start with 10-15 swimming behind them in the spring and always end up with 6-12 sometime later when I see them again.
Pike Fish MOST WANTED in Canada Top 5 Fished For
Those qualities in this huge game fish, in contrast, have made them one of the most entertaining game fish in the world. Videos of pike hammering all kinds of prey are popular sites to see. Yet those teeth are dangerous so please practice safety while learning how to handle Northern Pike. They are strong and they will flick their bodies and you will know it because they have amazing strength. They are among the Big 5 most wanted species in Canada by fisherman here.
How to Handle a Northern Pike
Professional Fishing Tips for Handling Northern Pike
Pike Fishing is not something for the newbie at it. You cannot afford to use the same strategy to fish for pike like you do your other typical fish species. Thin leaders of mono filament will never do. However, if you can understand their nature completely, you’d know how to go around that. Yup, wire leaders you got it.
Here we’re going to quickly consider the best strategies for how to handle those big Northern Pike and tips for safe catch and release.
Keep your distance from Northern Pike Fish Teeth
This should be the number one rule for pike fishing – no matter how tempting, never offer a pike any display of affection. lol…Trust me, they don’t care! They don’t need you to pet them or attempt to give them a camera kiss for the big picture. You do not want to be like the overjoyed Russian ice fisherman who once thought to give a pike a peck on the cheek, and the pike clamped down onto his nose and then he had to be “surgically removed”. Oouch! So much for vanity and selfies….
Northern Pike Fish Teeth are Razor Sharp USE PLIERS
You can imagine what a face full of teeth would look like, right? Well, Pike don’t just bite the bait on your line, so make sure you carefully watch your fingers when you’re handling them. Those fingers could be mistaken for the largest juiciest worms the Pike has ever seen!
Pike Fish Handling Tip: But, if the pike is less than 10 pounds, you can grip it across the back of the head, behind the eye, or over the back of the gill plate.
However, bigger pike should be netted and restrained with a strong grip while in the net. Needle-nose pliers are a must; jaw spreaders can come in handy. Lure Tip: Also, try to pinch down the barbs of your lures to accelerate extractions. Holding Tip: Hold him by the tale and over top his head while your buddy helps you with the hook removal with the pliers.
Yup if you don’t, a thrashing he may go, smashing into you, knocking you over and maybe end up on top of you too! Yes seen it at our fishing camp before. Big fish are hard to handle and extremely strong especially these Pike Fish and Muskies. Please learn how to handle Northern Pike safely.
Don’t even bother coming to pike fish with 4 to 6lb trout line
It is no surprise that Pike will bite through regular mono-filament, so you always need to use a heavy leader of some sort. Twenty- or 30-pound, 12-inch black wire leaders are standard, except when you’re using floating plugs (because the weight interferes with the action). So it is advisable to get the shortest wire that you can—usually 6 inches—or make your own from 12 inches of 30-pound mono tied to a snap at one end and a swivel at the other.
Northern Pike Fishing Line Tip: Me I catch alot of big fish, and with experience I use 12 lb super strong easy cast ability line with a 4 inch silver wire leader. Next key, don’t rush the fish, and set your drag properly, you will net and boat more fish this way! Yup, Everyone be laughing at you if you bring some 6lb trout line on a small panfish rod and reel to be fishing these. lol…
Northern Pike Catch and Release
Since they have very sharp teeth, care and caution is necessary in unhooking a pike. Barb less trebles are a great recommendation when angling for this species, as they simplify unhooking. This is done by using long forceps, with 30-cm artery clamps as the ideal tool. Mouth Opening Tip: Also note that when holding the pike from below on the lower jaw, it will open its mouth.
Be Quick: It should be kept out of the water for the minimum amount of time possible. Make sure you give the fish extra time to recover if being weighed and photographed before release. Pike Revival Tip:Hold it by the tail, positioned upright in the water and move it gently side to side and back and forth.
This is running fresh water over the gills to help get the oxygen going back into its body once more. Do not let it go till it wants to swim away or it could go belly up and die. Be patient! Either that or knock it on the head and take it back home or to your trailer and get it filleted up and eat it.
And finally make sure to get yourself a good type of fishing reel, one that wont break down under pressure if you happen to hook into one trophy after another. You do not want your reel to fail you, get one with decent gears that can take the fight from Pike and Musky, because if your fishing pike territory, then its sure to have the odd musky around now and then as well, since they often like the same types of environment.
Best Baits For Northern Pike?
Pike Fish Lure Tip: Pike seem to be lovers of fishing lures in white, yellow, and chartreuse, so these are go to colors of bait to lure them in. Sometimes also with spinner blades for flash to attract them, golds and perch colored work well.
A few anglers believe that “nervous” bait fish such as shiners are a better pike bait than chubs and suckers, but for the minnow, accessibility to fish is more important than its species. That’s why proper rigging is advised and use whatever bait fish that is legal and available in your area.
Northern Pike Fishing Tips and Proper Rigging Methods
Using a Bobber Rig for Pike Fishing
- BOBBER RIG: Using a bobber is a great approach, especially when you’re fishing close to a noticeable obstruction i.e., around the mouth of a tributary, or over weeds. However, you should make it as small as possible to minimize the resistance when a pike takes the bait and runs. Rig a bait in the 6- to 12-inch range on a size 1/0 hook, with a snelled wire leader attached to a snap-swivel.
- Make sure the float is positioned so that it holds the bait and hook it casually through the back, then position it so its a foot or two above the weeds. Once you notice a pike strike, it often sets itself by the way it slams the bait or lure and swims off with it. But with the bobber let it take it for just a few seconds and then wham, set er in. Oh and by the way,
- I most often use the minnows hooked through both lips and have had great success with this as its more natural looking. However, if the minnows are soft, dead floaters, then yes hook them deep in the back. Dead minnows are still great as the water gives them action.
Setting up to Use a Drift Rig for Pike
- DRIFT RIG: Fish all along and ensure long sections of definable structures such as weed edges, drop-offs, or shore lines are well covered. A 6-inch minnow hooked through the lips with a size 1 hook is just perfect. Also, make sure you match the sinker weight to the speed of the drift and the depth.
- Start with a single light split shot and adding more until you hit bottom—or fish. When you get a bite, drop the rod tip, open the bail, give a 10 count, reel in slack, and set the hook. You may need to allow extra time with bigger baits, but if you wait too long, the fish will either swallow the hook or feel the sinker catch in the grass as it runs and will drop the bait.
Secret Pike Drift Fishing Tip:
Wait no that’s the text book way to do it, in reality when your drift fishing depending on the speed you wont need to count anything, grab your rod pull up and reel at the same time. That sets the hook the right way, then play the fish accordingly.
My technique, and I tend to catch more pike fish than others do with this technique. If you miss the hook set, then open the bail let some line out and wait a few more seconds. Then be ready for the next hit when he goes for the gulp. Alot of times especially with big body baits they hammer it to kill or wound first. Then hit it again and swallow it down for the meal.
Hook up a Great Live Bait Rig with a Jig and Minnow
- JIG AND MINNOW:Hook a 4-inch minnow through the head, from the bottom to the top. Use a full (2- to 3-foot) but slow jigging motion and be prepared for a strike on the fall. When a fish hits, drop the rod tip for a moment, then set the hook hard. Jig-heads in the ¼- to ½-ounce range seem to provide the best minnow action. Although, it’s more important to adjust for the depth and speed of the drift.
That’s A lot of Good Northern Pike Information and Fish Catching Tips Right There. We hope you enjoyed them and catch more fish.
Are Northern Pike Important or a Nuisance Fish?
You may want to ask how important are pike to us as humans?
Well, a few anglers usually would release the pike they have caught because the flesh is considered bony, especially due to its substantial “Y-bones” (epipleural), but Pike have a long and distinguished history in cuisine and are popular fare in Europe.
They are important to fisherman as a prime game fish to hunt for and land, and also for carving up as table fare. When done properly and you know the secret technique, there are no worry about bones.
Northern Pike Catch and Release
However, due to their prolific and predatory nature, laws have been enacted in some places to help stop the spread of northern pike. The goal is to not let them outside of their native range. For instance, Maine and California, anglers are required by law to remove the head from a pike once it has been caught.
In Alaska, pike are native north and west of the Alaska Range, but have been illegally introduced to the south-central Alaska by game fishermen. In south-central Alaska, no limit is imposed in most areas. Pike are seen as a threat to native wild stocks of salmon by some fishery managers.
Some lakes have no limits on them. While others have strict limits it all depends on the ecosystem of the area.
Are Northern Pike Edible?
You Bet! Eat what you catch or release it back to the water. Learn how to properly clean a northern pike and you will enjoy the delicious meat it offers. Since these are often large fish you can get several meals from them.
Lots of people wonder if you can eat a Pike Fish. As you can see here I am marinading some pieces for shore lunch. With several pieces still left for dinner.
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