Other Names: Pike, Northerns
Juvenile pike possess wavy, white to yellow vertical bars. Adults have shorter markings arranged in a more horizontal configuration.
Northern Pike, often referred to as “pike” or “northerns,” are predatory fish known for their aggressive nature and powerful strikes. They are highly sought after by anglers due to their size, strength, and the thrill of catching them. Northern Pike can grow quite large, with specimens exceeding 40 inches in length and weighing over 20 pounds.
Best Locations: The U.P. offers numerous lakes and rivers that provide excellent habitat for Northern Pike. Some popular locations include Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Eagle River Chain of Lakes, Wisconsin River, Lake Gogebic, Lake Michigamme, Indian Lake, Big Manistique Lake, and the Escanaba River. These bodies of water provide ample opportunities to catch Northern Pike.
Season: Northern Pike fishing in Michigan is open year-round, but the prime time to target them is during the spring, early summer, and late fall. During these seasons, the pike are more active, and the water temperatures are favorable for their feeding patterns.
Techniques: There are several techniques you can use to target Northern Pike. Casting with large spinners, spoons, or jerkbaits is a popular method. Pike are aggressive predators and will often strike at fast-moving lures. You can also use live bait such as large minnows or suckers under a bobber or on a bottom rig. Fishing with tip-ups is another effective technique, especially during the winter when the lakes freeze over.
Fishing for Northern Pike in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Equipment: Use a medium to heavy-action spinning or baitcasting rod and reel combo. Ensure that your fishing line is at least 10-20 pound test to handle the pike’s aggressive strikes and strong runs.
Locations: Northern Pike can be found in various water bodies across the Upper Peninsula, including lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. Target areas with weedy shallows, rocky points, submerged logs, and drop-offs where pike tend to hide and ambush their prey.
Lures and Baits: Northern Pike are known for their aggressive nature and will strike a variety of lures and baits. Effective lures include spoons, spinners, jerkbaits, and large swimbaits. Choose lures that mimic the pike’s natural prey such as minnows, perch, or small walleye. Experiment with different colors and retrieve speeds until you find what works best on a given day. Live bait options include large minnows, suckers, and shiners.
Techniques: Cast your lure or bait along weed edges, drop-offs, and other potential hiding spots. Retrieve your lure with intermittent pauses and twitches to imitate injured prey, which can trigger a pike’s predatory instinct. If using live bait, suspend it below a bobber or use a slip sinker rig. Remember that pike have sharp teeth, so consider using a steel leader or heavy fluorocarbon leader to prevent bite-offs.
Time of Year: Pike fishing can be productive throughout the year, but certain seasons can provide better opportunities. In the spring, focus on shallow bays and weed beds as pike move into shallower water to spawn. During summer, they may retreat to deeper areas or seek shelter under weed mats. In the fall, as water temperatures drop, pike become more active and often move to shallower areas again.
Health : Local waters have PCBs, dioxin, mercury, PFOS, and other chemicals that can be found in fish and stay in our environment for a very long time.
Be aware of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – The Eat Safe Fish Guide (ESF Guide)
Wisconsin has the a health guide for eating fish in Wisconsin – Choose Wisely Contaminate Advisories for Wisconsin