The Northern Pike is one of Manitoba’s most widely known and distributed game fish. Pound for pound, it is one of the best angling fights around with its typical spool spinning runs and its explosive jumps and tail walks at the boat-side! Northern Pike share the top of the food chain with 4 other species as one of Manitoba’s top predatory fish. After only a few weeks from their hatch, Pike begin to feed on smaller fish and grow very rapidly with their voracious appetite. They remain piscivorous throughout life although they are opportunistic eaters and will take leeches, dragonfly nymphs, mayflies, crayfish, frogs, and even mice, muskrats, and the young of aquatic birds! These fish spawn in April and May in Manitoba, just after the ice leaves the rivers and streams but while most lakes still have ice cover. The females move upstream to shallow water and broadcast spawn their adhesive eggs over the vegetation to be fertilized by the males. The Northern Pike females grow larger than the males, the largest angler caught on record was 150 cm in 1992 (about 59 inches). A net harvested Northern in 1974 was an amazing 37.8 pounds! The Pike are most commonly found in cool, clear, quiet water with vegetation or other cover. They are most common in lakes but are also found in flowing water, areas where the water velocity is lowest, such as pools, eddies and marginal waters. Catching these guys is too much fun to be imagined, it has to be experienced! Tactics do not have to be too sophisticated but there are some details which can help boating the “Master Angler” size fish, 41 inches or over. If you are a Pike fisherman you know that the fish will “roll” with the bait in their mouths and manage to cut the line with the edge of their gill plate. I hear of so many folks just getting this monster to the side of the boat and the fish breaking the line. Often, they actually cut the line or weaken it with their teeth or gill plate edge. So, a long, wire leader and some strong line is an asset if you are going Pike hunting as well as watching the drag setting on your reel. Large bait often help in catching the big guys, after all, why waste a lot of energy eating the small fish when you can have a big meal! Many anglers go from one area to another area casting crank baits, spinners, spoons; top water baits etc and enjoy the explosion when the big guys hit their baits. Another tactic is using a frozen smelt on a drop line with a bobber in some still water under a rapid and let it drift. The Pike will see the bait silhouetted above and come up and take it. It is good practice to let him run with the bait until he stops and then set the hook and then “game-on”! I think that most Pike at the outposts are taken while fishing for walleye! They share the same water and food resource so I guess it makes sense. Very early in the year, fly fishing can be very productive and exciting with one of these monsters on a long rod with light line in the shallows, hang on! It is not uncommon that anglers report having a huge northern actually attack the fish on their line as they are bringing the fish in and have to fight 2 fish. Others have reported northerns attacking the fish on their stringer and having only pieces left! We caught a large pike in June of 2010 who had another Pike almost as big as him swallowed half way down and still took another bait! Anglers at Kitchi and Longhaul will be in waters that hold huge Pike. There is potential of catching and releasing several big Pike in a day and multiple smaller Pike. Numbers depend on the angler and the day but often, Northern Pike are not as affected by changes in atmospheric pressure as walleye may be and are more “catchable”. Kitchi Island Outposts practices “catch and release” and encourages all Pike over 20 inches be returned to the water unharmed. Use only smaller fish for a shore lunch or a supper. It is the law in Manitoba to fish “barbless”. Only the hooks on the line in use must have the barbs pinched down. I further encourage all anglers to cut off one “arm” of each of their treble hooks as well as pinching down the barbs. These measures will insure that fish are returned to the water unharmed and allowed to grow and multiply to maintain our fantastic Pike fishery.