Category: Northern Pike


“Tied with pride, fished with attitude”, the new edition “Issuu 5” of Baltic Pike Flies is out and exceeding my expectations. I’m proud to say I’ve had the pleasure of using these flies, and can tell you that they look and move as good in the water, as they do on your computer screen. In his own words…

Baltic pike flies Issue 5 has been a while in the making but I finished it last night. When you do something like this you suddenly realise how much time and effort must go in to producing quality productions like “This is fly”, “Catch Magazine”, SID, Bloodknot to name but a few. Anyway I hope you all enjoy it. Best viewed in full screen mode.

– Simon Graham

Simon has outdone himself once again!!

Baltic Pike Flies

Issuu 5

Baltic Pike Flies: Issuu 5

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In July of this year I spent an unforgettable week on Eagle Lake with 32 fishermen during our traditional family and friends Canadian fishing trip. I’ve been going since I was 7 years old. This year was the first time it became my responsibility to coordinate the trip. Not a small task, but worth the effort. I’m working on a longer write-up of the trip to share, but I wanted to give everyone a heads-up. There were many more friends and family who couldn’t attend who I know will enjoy hearing more about the fishing, card playing, shenanigans, antics, accommodations, and fun.

We caught plenty of Northern Pike, Walleye and even some Musky. It really took some skill and knowledge to find the fish this year due to a few conditions I’ll explain in the next article about the trip. Thank goodness we had some skilled fishermen on the trip, and also, thank goodness for Peg and Bob at Temple Bay Lodge. They run a great outfit and are really wonderful people.

Kvarken IPFT

The Kvarken International Pike Fly Fishing Tournament was held earlier this month in Eumer Fishing Center, Merikarvia, Finland. Check out the results.

Congratulations Simon on a successful tournament. I hope I can’t join the next one and how you boys how it is really done.

Northern Pike - Ontario, Canada

One of the reasons I love living in Argentina is the variety of freshwater fish here. But there is one species of fish that I often miss and will soon be able to enjoy again for a week in late June when I take my son fishing for Northern Pike in Ontario, Canada. While others only go after certain kinds of fish, I’m pretty much “fish agnostic”… I’ll try to catch just about anything under the water that has a good fight in it.

As I’ve said in the past, I believe it is always to good thing to review what we think we know about anything having to do with fishing, because we (or at least I) usually learn something new in the process. Let’s start with what most of us already know…

Esox Lucius

Pike, a freshwater fish. The pike has a long, greenish body with lighter or darker markings on the sides. The long, pointed head ends in a snout shaped like a duck’s bill. With its sharp teeth it preys on smaller fish and other small animals, such as frogs and ducklings. Yes, cute cuddly little ducklings. I’ve never actually found a little yellow quacker in the belly of a pike, but it has been mentioned. Since they hunt in the shallows near the coastline, just about anything is fair game.

Northern Pike

The northern pike, or “jackfish”, is the species most popular as a game fish and I’ve read that it is also extensively fished commercially. But if so, it certainly isn’t as common on a restaurant menu as so many other fish and if you ask me, fresh out of the water is the best time to eat pike. They really are delicious. (But only keep what you’re going to eat.)

Although native to Europe and northern Asia, it is common in Canada and the northern United States, including Alaska. The northern pike is olive green on its back, shading to almost white underneath, with light spots on its sides and fins. It may be four feet (1.2 m) long, and may weigh 45 pounds (20 kg) or more.

Pickerel

Small species of pikes are known as pickerels, a name once given only to the young of the northern pike. Sometimes we call the little ones “hammer handles” or “snakes”, but I don’t think those names will get into the science books.

The redfin pickerel weighs about one pound (0.45 kg) and is grayish green with dark bars across its sides. It is native to Ontario and the eastern and central United States south to the Gulf Coast states, and has been introduced into Washington. The grass pickerel, known also as the mud pickerel, is a subspecies of the redfin pickerel, which it resembles. It is found in the eastern United States from Maine to Florida. The chain pickerel, named for the dark, chainlike markings on its sides, can weigh nine pounds (4 kg) or more. It is found from the St. Lawrence River to the lower Mississippi Valley.

Lurking Muskie

Pikes belong to the family Esocidae. The northern pike is Esox lucius; redfin pickerel, E. americanus; grass pickerel, E. a. vermiculatus; chain pickerel, E. niger; muskellunge, E. masquinongy.

The muskellunge is the largest pike. It is found in Canada and the United States, and is highly prized as a game fish. For me as a kid the “Muskie” was sort of the mystical giant that I always hoped I’d catch on one of our family trips and then be paraded around like a hero. The elders would talk about the unusually advanced fishing skills I displayed at my age. I would become a family fishing legend…

Methods

Fly fishing – OF COURSE!!

Pike on the fly

Other effective methods for catching this hard-fighting fish include dead baits, live baits and lure fishing.

“Spot fishing” is a lot of fun. When you are fortunate to have very clear waters, cruise the coastline and see if you can spot a pike. With the sun in your face (on the other side of the pike) you may not be seen and you can toss your fly or lure beyond the pike to watch him attack as you’re bait works by. You can have a lot of fun and enjoy a real adrenaline rush!

Spot Fishing

A practice known as ‘gut hooking’ was previously widely used in catching pike. Upon taking the bait the pike will hold it for a short time in its mouth as it moves off. The pike will then, usually, turn the bait in its mouth so that it sits in alignment with the pike’s throat to ease swallowing.

It is recommended that you set the hook early so that the fish doesn’t have a chance to try and swallow the lure. Setting the hook once it is half down the fish’s throat or  ‘gut hooking’ will normally kill or seriously injure the fish.

Handling

Pike can easily be damaged when handled since they are not as robust as their reputation would suggest. The “slime’ on their body actually protects them in the water and takes a long time to regenerate. Try to minimize the loss of that protective coating.

Since pike have numerous sharp teeth it is wise to take extreme care when unhooking the pike. The use of a wet leather gauntlet and surgical forceps to remove hooks is highly recommended if you are fond of your digits.

Proper Handling

If practicing catch and release fishing, care for the pike should be the pike angler’s utmost concern. The formerly recommended practice of grasping a pike by its eye sockets resulted in countless released pike that quickly died from inability to see prey any longer.

The current recommended method of grasping pike is to close the hand firmly over the gill covers, and to make the period of handling the pike as short as possible before release. Grabbing the pike by the gill covers is not feasible when the pikes are very big (if you should be so lucky), but it is easy to handle the pike by inserting the fingers at the bottom of the gill opening and grabbing the lower jaw. Big pike should also be supported at the belly. When a pike is held this way it is also easier to keep the mouth open to unleash the hooks. Many fishers now use special grips to grab the pikes front lower jaw, which can add to the safety of the anglers because of the danger imposed by the hooks of the lure or tackle and the teeth of the pike.

Pike are pretty famous for throwing “temper tantrums” once in the boat. They seem to be calm and then suddenly throw a fit, wildly fighting to get free. Be very careful that you have a good grip or you might end up with a treble hook through you finger as I did. Not fun having that pulled back out.

Other methods of catching and handing pike which are now frowned upon are the gaff and the gag. The gaff is a metal hook on the end of a pole used to hook through the fish’s body in place of a more humane landing net. A gag is a device for holding open the pike’s mouth whilst unhooking. These are now illegal as they put a huge amount of pressure on a pike’s jaw thus causing irreparable damage.

Mythology and Curious Trivia

Volga River Pike

Russian mythology holds that the pike is one of several forms assumed by evil water spirits called vodyanoy, and a ravenous mythical pike is traditionally blamed for decimating the fish population in the Sheksna River.

“You like Pikeski?”

Russian fairy tales, on the other hand, also tell about an old wise pike that can fulfill wishes of the one who catches it, if its catcher releases it back into its habitat. (Russian Catch and Release – guess they didn’t release many – or maybe they did.)

Putín! Putón!

Speaking of Russians. Vladimir Putin supposedly likes to fish. I’m not sure I’m very fond of his fishing dress code however. You think he could afford a nice fishing shirt and vest. Perhaps they don’t have Cabella’s over there.

Catching a 10 kg pike, “kymppihauki”, is considered as “earning one’s spurs” as a master fisherman in Finland. Those crazy Fins… Who’s gonna wear spurs in a boat…

Perhaps the word comes from the sound the fisherman makes after he’s celebrated with too many adult beverages…or looking at that picture of Putin for too long…  kymppi-HAUKI!!

My fellow blogging pal Simon is a really talented artist (Check out: BPF#3). His fly tying skills, and blogging skills are only matched by his enterprising spirit. In addition to having a passion for fly fishing in common, we are also both living abroad and trying to take advantage of every moment! Simon is an English born South African, but lives on Replot Island in Finland. (Hoe gaan dit, Simon?) I guess we’ve both exchanged hemispheres, but I have to give him credit for standing up to the cold. I don’t envy him that, but I do envy his access to Northern Pike on a regular basis.

So when I saw the news about the the Kvarken International Pike Fly-Fishing Tournament, I thought, no way – too far, besides, my blog is about Sport Fishing Americas, not Scandinavia! So why did I then find myself checking my calendar? Hmmm…. I will be working in Africa and Asia around that time. Perhaps I could just pop-in. It’s only 3 days after all, my wife would understand, right? But then I noticed a real problem. Team America is “ilman varusteita!” (I think that’s Finnish for “no team“.) I mean, it wouldn’t be a very good way for them to kick off the first ever tournament of this kind with one overconfident American out-fishing all those old-world fly fishermen alone. At least we should try to keep up appearances right? Of course, if anyone wants to meet me in Kvarken, don’t hesitate to let me know!

6 Countries will battle it out for Piking Glory over 3 intense days.

America | Holland | England | Scottland | Ireland | Sweden | Finland

The tournament will be held on Replot island which is situated in the famous Kvarken World Natural Heritage Site from the 10th – 13th May 2010, & is the 1st international pike fly tournament ever to be held in Finland. The waters around Replot island are very special waters indeed. In fact the entire area and western coastline is aptly named pike paradise by the Ostrobothnian fishing association.

During spring time here, thousands upon thousands of pike can be found spawning in the shallow bays & as the area is found smack bang in the middle of the Baltic sea, water temperatures stay far cooler than closed waters like lakes, and so fishing is prevalent all through the season, from early April – late November when the sea freezes over.

As well as the prolific fishing this area has, It also has an extremely diverse set of fauna & flora. 24 endemic plant families are found on the shores of the Baltic sea, of which 16 are only found in the Kvarken Archipelago. Replot’s fauna is equally impressive with over 126 species to be found here such as Skuas, Black Guillemots, Eider ducks, Razerbills, White tailed eagle,Crane,Ural & Great Grey Owls & the endangered Scaup. Elk,White tailed deer,Bear,raccoon dog,Fox,Otter all live on the island as well.

The area is wild & rugged with over 2000 islands & skerries to fish between and around With Vision fly fishing, Eumer tube & Baltic pike flies as well as several co-operation partners from the island involved, it promises to be a fly-fishing tournament like no other.

Reading about Northern Pike lately on some of my fellow bloggers’ sites has put me in the mood for one of the most delicious freshwater fish out there. I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Grand Marnier PikeGrand Marnier

Ingredients:

  • Northern pike fillets
  • Flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne
  • Butter
  • Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup milk

Mix the flour, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste in a large bowl.

Dip the pike in milk and roll it in the flour mixture.

Heat the butter in a skillet or frying pan, bringing the butter to a sizzle. Put a shot of Grand Marnier in the pan. It may flare up (which is perfect). Immediately place the fish in the frying pan with the butter and Grand Marnier. Cook about 5 to 7 minutes on each side (or until golden brown). Fish is done when it flakes with a fork.

Although, for me, nothing beats the taste of freshly caught pike during shore lunch with 10 or 20 of your close friends and family, and I’m not one to doctor up fish too much since I want to savor the true flavor of the fish itself, this is a great northern pike recipe and has an orange undertone that is delicious. It’s really simple and the result is such that any chef would it put on a resume with pride.

It’s a great option for sharing pike with friends that aren’t quite as enthusiastic about “fish for dinner” as some of the rest of us. Trust me, they’ll think twice after having this meal… and you don’t have to tell them how easy it is if you don’t want to.

ENJOY!

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