The Northern Pike is a voracious predator and one of the easiest fish to catch in Minnesota because of its willingness to bite lures or bait. It is a close cousin to the muskie, but varies in appearance. A northern pike has a dark body with light markings, where as the muskie is opposite. Northern pike are most often olive green, shading from yellow to white along the belly. Commonly mistaken for each other the foolproof way to tell them apart is by counting the pores on the underside of the jaw. The muskie will have 6 or more pores whereas the pike will have 5 or fewer. The Northern Pike can be found in nearly all Minnesota lakes and streams. It has remained a popular fish because of the great chunky white filets that some anglers say are taste as good as walleye.
During the summer months when water temperatures are warm northern pike prefer weedy bays, estuaries, and shoals. Pike prefer cooler water and will head to deeper water with weed beds during the summer. Overall the pike habitat is largely determined on water temperature and availability of food. As young fish pike need places to shelter themselves between plants so they are not eaten. During the spawn pike seek backwaters full of weeds or flooded marshlands along rivers where they lay their eggs.
What Northern Pike Eat
The northern pike are usually solitary hunters and are highly territorial they will move around to different parts of the lake in search of food. They usually lurk at the edge of weed beds and attack their pray when they come by. The northern pike will feed on whatever is available as it is an opportunistic hunter. Their diet usually consists of fish but they will also eat crayfish, frogs, mice, muskrats and young waterfowl.
Methods of Fishing Them
Some effective methods for catching this hard fighting fish include dead baits, lure fishing, and jerk baiting. Pike fishing is good from either the shore or a boat. Shore fishing can be very lucrative in the spring when big pike move in closer to shallow water shoreline to spawn. During the hot summer months when water temperatures are warm the big female pike will retreat deeper in to cooler water providing the opportunity for trolling. Another very popular method is using float tubes which allow an angler the chance to be on the water in a floating manually powered tube. Using live bait on pike has proven to be very effective, if that is not an option 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.