Northern Pike

This is Wisconsin's second largest predator fish and the common catch size is 18-20 inches long, but some lucky anglers catch northern up to 50 inches long! The legal minimum length is 32-40 inches long, depending on where you are fishing. Check your regulations. One of the easiest ways to identify the northern pike is its markings; a dark background marked by light colored horizontal bars. Its tooth-lined mouth equips it for life as a predator, lurking in weed beds, waiting to ambush unsuspecting prey. They will eat any fish or small animal they can fit down their throat, including other northern pike! Near dusk or on overcast days, look for their shadows lurking just under the ice. The best fishing for this one is just after the ice forms on the lakes.

You can find these fish in lakes near shallow marshy bays in weed beds, at about 4-12 feet deep, on bright days and clear ice. Use strong tackle with large live smelt or minnows on a tip-up in 4 to 12 feet of water. Your line should be at least 10-pound test and 20-25 yards long. When the northern pike hovers about 3 feet from your bait, be patient, the northern will turn the bait around, killing it, and then will swallow it head first. When you feel the bait taking off again, set the hook hard. Chances are the northern will twist and turn under the ice and you will have to work it back to the hole. It is a game of wits and strength - who will win?

State Record Catch Size: 38 pounds, Lake Puckaway, Green Lake County, WI.

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