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Fish Species of the Boundary Waters


Northern Pike

Esox lucius - Water wolf. Northern pike can be caught just about anywhere using a wide variety of lures. Even if you are not targeting this species you are likely to catch your fair share. In the spring you can locate pike near moving water, in and around streams and creeks. Once June comes around you will want to key in on shallow, weedy flats (5-12) feet of water. Anywhere bait fish congregate is a good place to find pike. In late fall when the weeds are dying off you can fish along rocky shorelines and offshore islands. Pike can be caught trolling or casting from your canoe or from shore. Northern Pike occupy almost every lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.

  • Crank baits: Shad Rap, Rapala, Rattle Trap.
  • Red and white / Silver spoons.
  • Large bucktail spinners (Mepps)
  • Almost anything else.

USE A METAL LEADER. Northern pike have very sharp teeth and without a leader you are likely to lose many lures. Trolling and casting are equally effective and during most periods of the year pike are easy to hook. Lure color doesn't matter too much but be sure you have a long needle-nose pliers along for hook removal.

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Reader Input - Add Your Thoughts or Advice

Is there anything else we should know about fishing for pike? Do you have a special lure or technique? Let's hear your tips and advice.

Fishy: Some of these guys get pretty big, a small gaff can come in really handy out there and is much easier to handle than a net.
Brent: Bring some extra lures along, even if you're not fishing for pike you'll probably hook some and they may break your line.
Tom: I learned this on Red Lake. Ontario, when I was 14 years old(1964)and unless you have a fish of trophy proportions, it will work for you. Don't be afraid of the teeth on northern afraid of the hooks that remain in their mouths! Once the fish is played out, reach for the back of their head and grab on firmly. This is important, a good grip will put you in total control.(don\'t grab them by the eyes) Have a good set of needle nose pliers ready and remove the hooks as quickly as possible. If you are intending to eat your catch, run your stringer through both bottom and top lip. This will help your fish breath easier when being pulled around through the water while you continue to fish. Or if you have a big enough cooler, get it on ice as soon as possible. Fresh Pike is much better tasting then one that has been dragged around dead for several hours. Remember, get over the fear of those teeth and practise controlling your catch.
Bernard P. Friel: The best pieces of equipment to leave at home when fishing for any kind of fish from a canoe are a net and a gaf..any kind of net or gaf,large or small. Having fished for over 40 years on more than 35 trips in the BWCAW and the Quetico I can attest that both instruments are designed to cause you to try to land a fish, particularly a large one, before you should providing a great opportunity to overturn your canoe. Play the fish until you can safely land it with your hands as described in an earlier comment , or if it is a large Northern go to shore. I have landed countless Northerns over 20 lbs. by hand in the canoe or by going ashore, A fish, not even a big one is worth the risk of turning over the canoe particularly in the cold water of spring and early summer.

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