Fisherman's Report: Northern Pike

The northern pike is a fantastic fish to seek out when you’re lake fishing in Lake County because of its size, strength and fighting ability. You’ll enjoy the challenge of aerial acrobatics and explosive hits from this magnificent fish.

The Northern Pike is among the largest North American freshwater game fish and can grow more than three feet long and weigh as much as 30 pounds, and even more in the Great Lakes area. Legal minimum length in Illinois is 24 inches, though this may vary locally; check your regulations here.

You’ll find northern pike in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. They are “ambush” predators; they lie in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods, and then exhibit remarkable acceleration as they strike.

Unlike the similar-looking and closely related muskellunge, the northern pike has light markings on a dark body background and fewer than six sensory pores on the underside of each side of the lower jaw.

Northern Pike flesh is white, flakey and excels in flavor. But some anglers prefer to catch and release pike, as the flesh is quite bony.

Effective methods for catching this hard-fighting fish include dead baits, lure fishing, and jerk baiting.


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