The northern pike is a popular fish for Minnesota anglers. Northern are a relatively large fish and are abundant in the lakes of Northern Minnesota. As northern pike grow they increase in length and weight, see weight vs. length chart below. Northern Pike prefer areas of vegetation and are therefore found in lakes with less turbidity. They are known for their cannibalistic nature and the young northern use the vegetation as shelter. Northern Pike spawn in the spring when water temperatures reach 48ºF (9ºC). Male northerns arrive at the spawning site a few weeks early and are then followed by larger females.

Northern Pike Weight vs. Length Chart:

Northern Pike Weight vs. Length Chart

Northern are an aggressive hunter and remain stationary in the water before striking their prey. They commonly catch their prey sideways in their mouth to immobilize them and then turn their prey head first. It is not uncommon for northern to choke on their prey as they often feed on other fish close in size. The preferred diet of northern pike is other fish, but they are not too particular and will occasionally feed on frogs, insects and other prey in the water.

Because northern are an aggressive fish they are considered an exciting fish to catch. Many anglers enjoy the fight and jumping of northern. They are a bony fish and some anglers just enjoy the sport of catching and releasing them.

Because northern are an aggressive fish they are considered an exciting fish to catch. Many anglers enjoy the fight and jumping of northern. They are a bony fish and some anglers just enjoy the sport of catching and releasing them.

Northern Pike

Fillet Your Northern Pike
To do this, slide your boning knife into the flesh just in front of one of the fins, about where you'd estimate the "neck" of the fish to be. With a firm, smooth stroke, feel where the backbone and ribs are with the tip of your knife. Slide your knife along the ribs and backbone toward the tail, staying as close to the bones as possible. When you get to the tail, remove your first fillet. Repeat on the other side of the fish.

Examine the fillets with both your eyes and your fingers. Use a gentle touch so as to not mangle or disturb the meat of the fillet, but gently feel along its surface. You should be able to see the tiny white Y-bones (also called pinbones) toward the middle of each fillet. If you are unable to see them, gently running your fingers along the surface will allow you to feel where they are.

Remove the Y-bones. To do this, use your boning knife to excise the thin strip of flesh that runs down the center of each fillet. Slice carefully and pull the strip away to reveal a boneless fillet with very little edible-fish loss. A slightly slower (but even less wasteful) method is to use a pair of clean, needle-nose pliers to pull each bone out of the fillet individually.

Our guides specialize in guided fishing trips for northern, walleye and many other fish found in the northern Minnesota. For the ultimate fishing experience we recommend the Grand Slam fishing package, which offers three full days of fishing. With three days you will have the opportunity to fish multiple lakes for various species in the area. For more information about our professionally guided fishing trips visit our Guided Fishing Packages page.

Minnesota Fishing Licenses are available at our lodge and various retailers in Ely. Licenses are also available online through the Minnesota DNR.

We encourage catch and release and are happy to provide you with recommended taxidermists for excellent graphite mounts.

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