Though officially called “northern pike,” cool water anglers on familiar terms with this fish frequently refer to them as simply, “northerns.” However, there are no “southern” pike, so I prefer just “PIKE!” with all caps and the exclamation point that these toothy, ferocious fish deserve.
It is the impressive set of teeth that force you to play by their rules. They commonly cut standard fishing line so wire leaders are recommended. Teeth also mean that landing and unhooking can be a bit tricky too. Many anglers net pike and leave in the water to unhook with tools such as long-nosed pliers. These long bodied fish usually require two hands to hold, grasped at the tail and behind the head or just inside the gill cover, careful to avoid the sensitive gills.
Just after “ice out,” when the lakes no longer have that annoyingly hard surface, can be a great time to catch pike. In North Dakota, early season pike anglers may use frozen smelt for bait, resting on the bottom, rigged with a large hook. In Michigan and Iowa, various spoons drew strikes all year. White spinnerbaits or small white jigs also are good initially in Pennsylvania. As the water warms, it will hit almost any lure that dares cross its path.
Patrick Sebile, fisherman, designer, author and TV host also loves pike.
“I grew up fishing for this fish in all lakes and ponds nearby my house, and I developed great memories of this amazing predator. Love the surprising attacks as much as the brutality he can get into!” Fishing for pike makes him “feel happy.”
Me too, Patrick. That is, after I quit shaking from that startling strike. There are no pike in Oklahoma so now that I’m up north, I’ll be chasing them every chance I get.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad living in Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.