Northern Pike fish, its habitats, characteristics, fishing methods.
The Northern Pike is the largest predator in the northern waters. They are strong fighting game fish. The small to medium size pike are feeding on small minnows, bugs, frogs and each other. Northern Pike like to ambush their prey. The perfect place for a big Northern to ambush Walleyes or other fish is off rocky points, narrow sections of the lake or the mouth of a river.
A combination of understanding the fish and the techniques used to catch them will help you to hook more fish to the end of your line. Better knowing and understanding of the fish that you are trying to catch will make you a more successful angler, whether you are fishing for trout on a river or surfing on the beach or trolling on the open water.
The Northern Pike - Esox lucius, are typical of brackish and freshwaters of the northern regions, also known as Common Pike, Great Northern Pike, Jack or Jackfish in Canada, Northern, Pickerel, Pike in Britain, Snake. They range from the Interior to the Arctic coast, from the Canadian border to the Seward Peninsula, and southwest to the Bristol Bay drainages. A small isolated population is found near Yakutat.
The Northern Pike is the largest predator of northern waters. It has an elongated body and head, rounded tail tips and broad and flat snout. A single soft-rayed dorsal fin is located far back on the body. The jaws, top of the mouth and a tongue are equipped with many sharp teeth which are being regularly replaced. Single dorsal fin, light colored spots on darker body, upper half of gill cover and entire cheek has scales. The pike is olive, shading into yellow to white along the belly but can be variable in color. A fish from a clear stream or lake will usually be light green, while a pike from a dark slough or river will be considerably darker. Eyes are brilliant yellow. The northern pike has light markings on a dark green body background on the sides form irregular rows of yellow or gold spots and 6 or fewer sensory pores on the underside of each side of the lower jaw. Length from 18 to 30 inches, can exceed 4 foot, weight is from 20 oz to 8 lbs, can be over 40 lbs. Pike usually live from 10 to 26 years. Females live longer and reach larger size.
The Pike favorites are still or slow-moving lakes and rivers, where the water is warmer and vegetation is floating in the waters. Pike habitat is largely determined by temperature, and food availability. As a cool water species, the Pike prefers water of about 60°F (16°C). Pike are found in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. The Pike feeds voraciously throughout spring, summer and fall. During the summer as water getting warmer large northern pike move deeper cooler water with weed beds and water cabbage, in drop-offs, points, islands, and humps. They become lazy in warm water, eating little and even losing some weight. In extended high temperatures and low oxygen, northern pike getting starve; in the middle of the summer hunt reaches peak abundance and fishing is very pure in warm weather. In the spring after the spawn Pike are fiercely hungry, but moving slower in the early morning, and they went back to deeper waters with submerged weed beds or other structures which offer cover, in the late afternoon.
Pike are typical ambush predators; they lie in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods and then exhibit remarkable acceleration as they strike. The fish has a distinctive habit of catching its prey sideways in the mouth, killing it with its sharp teeth, and then turning the prey headfirst to swallow it. It eats mainly fish. The northern pike is a largely solitary predator. It migrates only during a spawning season and is relatively sedentary at other times. Northern pike are not adapted for life in strong currents. Throughout their range, they occur more frequently in lakes than in rivers, where they inhabit backwaters and pools. Strong currents can block spawning migrations.
Spawning occurs in spring soon after the ice has melted and goes out, from late March to early May, when the water has warmed to 39 to 52°F (8 to 12°C). They spawn over vegetation in areas of calm, shallow water, weedy inlet at about 4-6 feet in depth. The absence of flooded flora can inhibit or delay spawning. Spawning groups, consisting of a female plus several males move constantly. Females seldom lay eggs under the ice; they usually begin moving into small streams and flooded marshland when the water temperature is above 39 degrees F. Females deposit up to 100,000 eggs at random, a 25- to 30-pound female may contain up to 500,000 eggs which she deposits in the grassy margins of lake shores, slow-moving streams, or sloughs. Only a few eggs, 5 to 60 are released at anyone spot. Spawning groups may cover significant distances before all eggs are released. Distances between egg releases are likely to be greater when the distribution of spawning habitat is patchy. The eggs drop to the bottom where they stick to grass, rocks, or flooded vegetation for about two weeks before hatching. Young pike feed on plankton, then on small crustaceans and insects. By the time they reach 2 inches in length they may be eating smaller fish. Northern pike do not spawn at night. Spawning may be interrupted by cold weather, water level drawdown, strong wind, or rain.
Effective methods for catching this hard fighting fish include dead baits, lure fishing, and jerk baiting. They are prized as game fish for their determined fighting. Lake fishing for pike from the shore is especially effective during springtime, at which stage the big pike move into the shallows to spawn in weedy areas, and later many remain there to feed on other spawning coarse fish species to regain their condition after spawning. Smaller jack pike often remain in the shallows for their own protection, and for the small fish food available there. For the hot summer period and during non-active phases the larger female pike tend to retire to deeper water and/or places of better cover. This gives the boat angler good fishing during the summer and winter seasons. Trolling is a very popular technique.
The use of float tubes is a very popular method to fish pike on small to medium size still-waters. Fly fishing for pike is also become more often usable. Using a live fish for bait is always the best, but also a good method to catch the pike especially in the colder season with dead smelly fish like herring, sardines or mackerel. Baitfish can be used as ground bait, but also below a float carried by the wind.
Big Northern Pike in the lake feed on different sized fish - and require larger fishing lures to attract their attention. The best lures are big spoons, spinners and jerk-baits, but mostly pike will attack any artificial that looks real and big enough for a meal. One of the most effective baits is a big minnow fished under the float. Once hooked, northern pikes typically leap or beat and splash the water surface, then make a series of powerful runs.
Pike can be taken with medium action spinning rod,
fly fishing or
pole fishing gear. Almost any type of hardware will produce a strike. A wire leader is a must when doing battle with these sharp-toothed monsters.