Northern Pike

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A Great Fishing Experience

Sep 13, 2000
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Decent fight, easy to catch

Cons:Not the best-tasting fish

Being a Florida boy, I had never fished for nor heard of Northern Pike until I was stationed at Minot, North Dakota which is paradise if you love the outdoors. Up there, you can fish for pike all year except for the brief periods in between seasons. In the warmer months, any local lake or river is a good spot. In the winter, get out your auger and ice house because ice fishing is a unique experience.

Techniques and Tackle

There is no single technique or lure which will work equally well all year. In the warmer months, I recommend a flashy spoon (I've had my best luck with gold-colored ones). Affix a steel leader at the end of the line, but don't use one too thick because pike, like most fish, are discouraged by the appearance of fishing line.

If you can possibly acquire topographical maps of the body of water where you fish, you have a great advantage. Pike like to hang around logs, steep drop offs, rocks, craggy terrain, and anywhere else providing cover. They do not travel or form schools. Their strategy is to hide and blend into the background. When they spot prey, they attack with a short, but very powerful burst of speed. They will not travel long distances because it expends too much energy. Consequently, since your lure resembles an injured fish, you should retrieve the lure at irregular speeds. An alternative to lures is bait, either live or dead, but bigger is better. I recommend anything from minnows to shiners.

When the weather gets cooler, spawning begins. The fish will slow down and will rarely pursue their prey. It becomes time to pack those lures away and switch strictly to bait. Dead bait is fine and I recommend using a float. Occasionally, tug the line to move the bait slowly.

Make sure your hooks remain sharp. Check them before you venture out and if the hooks have become dull or have surface rust, take a few minutes to sharpen them. Pike have very tough tissue in their mouths and very sharp teeth. When you feel that tug on your line, slightly drop the rod and ensure the line is reeled tautly. Then, raise the rod quickly to set the hook firmly. I lost several good-sized pike before I learned this lesson.

The Feast

I'll be honest. Pike is not the best fillet of fish you will ever taste. I rate it slightly above average compared to all other edible fish. However, when cleaned (you will lose about one-third of the fish's weight after the head is removed), it can be quite tasty when pan fried or baked. Battering and deep-frying (like the British do with cod) is even better. One recipe worthy of investigating is pickled cod which is fairly popular in North Dakota. It simply involves cleaning the fish and preserving small fillets in pickling spices. One of my favorites is to make fish cakes. Simply, put the fillets in a food processor and add cracker crumbs, bread crumbs, or oatmeal. Finely chop a medium onion and add two eggs to bind the mixture. Mix well. Shape into quarter pound patties and fry them like burgers.

The majority of fisherman up north fish for walleye because of their superior taste. However, many end up with pike because of their larger numbers. Me? I fish for whatever bites the line and consider myself lucky.






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