Why I Think Northern Pike Are Awesome

They’re shaped like torpedoes.

I associate them with the unspoiled North.

They’re tenacious buggers.  (When they bite on a lure, they say “MINE” and they don’t let go.)

When they’re hooked, they fight like a sonnavabitch (unlike those wimpy Walleye).

They can grow up to be monsters, 40 to 50 inches in length.

The larger ones are known to eat baby ducks and muskrats (how cool is THAT, for a fresh-water fish!?)

When you try to remove the hook from their mouth, they’ll chomp down on your pliers.  Tough bastards, they are.

Not counting humans, they’re the Apex Predator of the aquatic food chain.

If you’re day-dreaming, they can scare the crap out of you, when they strike your lure 2 feet from  the boat.

Let’s not forget the razor-sharp teeth that can cut your line (or your fingers).  (Watch it!)

Contrary to popular belief, they actually taste quite good and aren’t bony if you know how to clean them.

Even the tiny hammer-handles are fun to catch.

They’re not the most popular fish.   Which is fine with me.   Let everyone else go after the walleye and the  trout…I’ll have the pike lakes to myself!

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35 Comments on “Why I Think Northern Pike Are Awesome”


  1. @ Friar: Holy moly, that is one big sob of a pike. I love their colors, it reminds be a little of a rainbow trout. Sounds like you met your fish mark if there is such a thing as a fish with character. 🙂

  2. Urbane Lion Says:

    Pikes are our version of barracudas. One of them actually landed me in the hospital when I was 13. They are very impressive to look at (especially the one in your pic!). You’re right in saying that they are not the most popular fish but they put up a great fight and one of the most popular dishes in classical French cuisine, Quenelles Lyonnaises, is actually made with pike (brochet in French). Ooooh…. wish I was at the cottage righ now!!!

  3. Steph Says:

    My very first fish was a huge (well, huge to me, I don’t remember actually how long it was) pike caught at Balsam Lake, when I was just a wee one. ‘Course, Dad helped. But I’ll never forget how striking it was, how beautiful, how…big to little me.

    I love their streamlined look, their long “snouts.”

    That’s a beauty in the bottom pic, and the water looks sooo tempting! Do I spy a glimpse of my friend Friar, as well? 🙂

  4. Steph Says:

    PS. I didn’t know they ate small animals!!

  5. Friar Says:

    @Monika
    That was the biggest fish I caught in my life. I was alone on a Waston Lake (up in the Yukon) and I struggled to land this critter for 15 minutes with a cheapo Canadian Tire fishing rod. (That’s a hardware store).

    One other boat came by, and I asked them to take a photo. (Otherwise nobody would have believed me). Nothing I’ve ever caught since has come close to that.

    @Urbane Lion
    Wow…HOW did a pike put you in the hospital? (Did you get your fingers too close to it’s mouth?). That would make a for a good story.

    I’ve heard so many people tell me how crappy pike is to eat. How walleye (doré in Quebec) is so much better.

    Once when my buddies and I were camping near Laverendrye Park, we did a taste test…we cooked the two beside each other in a fry pan, and you coudn’t tell the difference! I think it’s an urban myth…pike is delicous!

    Like I said…that’s fine with me. Let all the fishermen crowd themselves on the lakes to find walleye. I’ll go to the next lake and catch pike, and have the whole place to myself.

    @Steph
    Wow..that’s a pretty intimidating first fish to catch (most kids’ first fishes are rock bass or sunfish).

    Yeah, they’re beautiful fish. I find the color depends on the lake. They can be greenish white, or even golden green. I love the hydrodynamic snout, and the white speckles. I could almost paint them.

    Like I told Monika, yep..that’s me in the pic. I didn’t’ go swimming though. This was the Yukon in late august…people don’t swim there too much. 🙂

  6. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    Oh, yeah. The large ones will eat small critters. Pike will even eat each other. They pretty much eat anything.

    When they’re “off”, they get spooked, and they don’t bite much. But when they’re “on”, it almost doesn’t matter what your bait is…they’ll attack ANYTHING!

  7. Steph Says:

    Hmmm, do I hear a post about how we should be like the great pike? 🙂

    Cool! I totally love that pic of you. You look strong and…Canadian! 🙂 Nice imposing forearms. Your posture, too, is great for that pic. Conquerer!

  8. Steph Says:

    PS. I was on Monika’s site and you were talking about having decided where to go next. Did you tell me already? If so, I forget where!

  9. Brett Legree Says:

    Never going to dis Crappy Tire sporting gear again…

    Hey, you around this weekend? (except if you’re out fishing, that is)

  10. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    I’ve actually booked my trip a few days ago…it’s a fishing lodge (which is why I’m probably inspired to write about pike).

    It’s Northern Ontario. Lake KabawakabakagawaChewinigonokobosis (or something like that). In the bush between Wawa and Kapuskasing. You can only get there by bush plane.

    It’s supposed to have AWESOME fishing with monster pike and walleye.

    Plus I’m pampering myself (American Plan…everything included..cabin, meals, boat and gas). All I have to do is show up with my fishing gear.

    It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, for at least 10-15 years. But didn’t have the money for the time. But for the first time in years, I can actually afford it..so I’m gonna just DO IT.

    @Brett
    Actually, that Crappy Tire rod lasted me years, until it finally broke. (It’s one of their few sporting goods products that didnt’ suck).

    Yep, I’m around tonight. (Going fishing during the day, but I’ll be back around after 5:00-6:00 PM).

  11. Karen JL Says:

    @ Friar

    That trip sounds awesome! Good for you for treating yourself. We all deserve a little luxury once in a while. 🙂 Catch a big ‘un.

  12. Friar Says:

    @Karen JL

    I’ve paid my dues, believe me. 10 hour drives, arriving at 2 AM. Setting up camp in the rain and the bugs. Shivering over a propane stove cooking a crappy meal…only to find the fishing sucks…

    Been doing that for years and years…so just this ONCE, I’m gonna go in style, where I’m guaranteed to get more fish than I know what to do with.

    After all, what’s the point of working for a living if you dont’ enjoy yourself once in a while, eh?

    I’ll definitely be blogging about it when I get back. (But not just yet, I’m still here for one more week).

  13. Friar Says:

    @Brett

    By the way, I just came back from Crappy Tire.

    State-of-the-art new store. Yet they don’t have electric doors that open when you leave.

    That is just…SO…Splat Creek.

    (Hello…store manager? The year 1958 called…it wants’ to offer you it’s technology!) 🙂

    But hey. I can live without it.

    (If they want me to shove the pushcart against the glass doors to leave the store…that’s FINE with me!) 🙂


  14. I AM SO JEALOUS!!!!!

    Are you really going? That is sooooooo fabulous!!!!!

    OMG OMG….camera, paints, bear.. journal……yip yippeeeee. So happy for you.

    I have never seen a pike that I know of , but I think I have had Quenelles Lyonnaise so maybe I just ate one. That’s a beauty there. The colors are fantastic. What a torpedo for sure.

    Okay, I can’t think about anything but that plane trip to the lodge and the call of the wild… I was just thinking maybe I could mange Barcelona this next year some how. To go play like Miro. This excites me more. Somehow that is wrong, butI cannot figure out why. Good is good.

    Damn Friar. Good on you.


  15. Manage Barcelona. oops

  16. Friar Says:

    @Janice

    Well, the trip is booked and I’ve paid my deposit. So (knock wood), I’ll be there a week from today.

    Well, it’s hardly “Wildnerness” camping. (Been there, done that).

    But I’ll be in a more remote spot than most places I’ve been to. And the brochure shows photos of MONSTER fish that people catch.

    Plus more walleye that you can shake a stick at. (I’ll be eating lots of shore lunches, I reckon) 🙂

    Have never been to Europe, though. (Eventually…I want to check out places like this first).


  17. Ooh remote and comfy- the best of both worlds.

    I am so happy for you. Therewas a Boston Legal episode where the guys took off to a remote gentleman’s fishing camp. I was beside myself with envy. It has been awhile since I have been able to do that.

    I love the way the light shimmers off the Pikes skin, or scales, I should say.

    Will it be super cold up there? Mists on the water kind of mornings?

  18. Friar Says:

    @Janice

    Its slightly more north than where I am. Pretty close to the 49th parallel. So not really any worse than Northern Minnesota or Northern Maine.

    It will be a bit cooler, because it’s August. There will definitely be mists on the lake in the morning.

    During the day, it’s anybody’s guess. Depends on the weather. Could be in the 50’s. Or the mid 80’s.

    (I’m hoping it’s the latter!) 🙂

  19. Rita Says:

    Friar,

    Are those like carp? Do they smell like carp? Seriously.

    Rita

  20. Davina Says:

    I just can’t get into going fishing. I tried once but couldn’t even put that poor worm on the hook. The way it curled frantically around my fingers freaked me out. You’d think that because of this, I’d be a vegetarian, but I still love to eat meat.


  21. I read the title as “The Northern Pikes” and started humming “She Ain’t Pretty (She Just Looks That Way)” and “Teenland”

    http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=UG3ExHB133k

    http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=IPznPZLNQhI

  22. Friar Says:

    @Rita

    UGHH!! Nooooooo!!

    Carp. UGH. To me, that’s the equivalent of a pigeon in the bird kingdom.

    It’s a totally different fish. Bottom feeders, with sucker mouths. Very bony and coarse.

    Although they can be quite prized in Europe, they’re considered “garbage fish” by most fishermen over here (including myself).

    But I can see where you can get confused. I think gefilte fish is made up for both carp and pike mixed together.

    @Davina

    I used to get grossed out by the worm as a kid. But I got used to it once my Mom taught me how to clean and filet the fish. The blood and guts don’t bother me in the least.

    Though, if you ever tried fishing again, you could avoid the worms and use artificial lures. They’ve advanced so much (Scented, biodegradable plastic), that they can outperform live bait. That’s what I use almost all the time now.

  23. Karen Swim Says:

    When I first saw the post title, I thought amusement park – in LA we had the Pike, which was like an outdoor fair with rollercoasters. So, I am totally dense about Fish, except when it comes to eating them. I love to eat fish. I even like going fishing but have not done so in years. Your trip sounds fun. Being near the water anytime for any reason is heavenly in my book. Hey, great photo by the way of you and the fish but where’s your head. You’re headless Friar. LOL!

  24. Friar Says:

    @Karen

    There’s nothing like fresh fish, having it in the frying pan, literally minutes after taking the fish from the lake. (It’s so tender, it falls apart on your fork..MMMmmm).

    Yes, I’m the headless Friar (just a a shy when it comes to showing myself in photos…!) 🙂

  25. Steph Says:

    That trip sounds like one of the best! There’s a pic on the cover of the Ontario Parks mag this year and I think the lake is something like where you’re going! It was up over Thunder Bay somewhere…I told Colin I wanted to go. I mean,look at that unspoiled water and land!! 🙂

    I can’t wait to hear all about your trip and to see the photos, too!

  26. Friar Says:

    @Alex

    I bet you didnt’ expect a post about “Northern Pikes” to be so literal, eh? 🙂

  27. Friar Says:

    @Steph

    This is in the vicinity, north of Wawa, west of Hornepayne (I’ll write more about it when I get back).

    There are so many of these fishing lodges, I didn’t even realized they existed until I started Googling. Northern Ontario is full of them.

    4.5 more working days and I’m THERE! (counting the hours…counting the hours..). 😉

  28. Urbane Lion Says:

    Friar, let me know next time you want to book a fishing trip. A buddy of mine does charter trips on the Bay of Quinte. He catches monster salmon. Not pike but the fight is fabulous. Most people don’t like pike because of the bones. They just need to know how to prepare them, that’s it! Happy fishing!

  29. Ellen Wilson Says:

    Hey is that you in the picture? You don’t look like Skipper.

    If I could eat fish i would eat these things, but I’m resigned to shell fish. Weird allergy I have. My Hawaian cousin has the exact same allergy. That would be hard if you were living in Hawaii.

    Are you going to paint your fish?

    So whadya think of sturgeon?

  30. Friar Says:

    @Urbane Lion

    Thanks for the tip. I might just drop you an email, next fishing trip.

    PS. In addition to the bones, I think the prejudice against pike is the supply-and-demand thing. Walleye are more finicky and more difficult to catch (Pike are sorta stupid and bite ANYTHING).

    If it was the other way around, everyone would be going after the pike, instead.

    Walleye do taste slightly better, but when they do bite…YAWN. What a boring fish to catch, compared to a pike or bass.

  31. Friar Says:

    @Ellen

    Yeah, that’s me in the photo. When you say I don’t look like the Skipper, I’ll take that as a compliment! 🙂

    I have other pike photos that I might paint from. Or this one. (One day…I just have so many potential painting subjects back-logged).

    Sturgeon. Pre-historic Dinosaur fish. We have them where I live. (I might have hooked one once, but the line broke…I never knew what it was).

    I’ve actually come across some of the “smaller” ones snorkeling in 5 feet of water. I was expecting to see small perch or sunfish. I ended up inches away from this huge fish about 5 feet long

    (Scared the living CRAP out of me, it did! ) 🙂

  32. Rita Says:

    Friar,

    The reason I ask IS about gefilte fish…I REMEMBER the carp flopping around in Grandma’s bathtub! (No bubbles) But I can’t remember granny EVER having a fish in her bathtub that she could feed to grandkids to (except MAYBE that one grandkid who wouldn’t eat her Hopjes!)

    Rita

  33. Friar Says:

    @Rita

    My Mom has similar stories of fish. Her dad worked for a laundry shop in the 1940’s, and they would often catch fish in the water intake pipe by the river.

    Her Dad would bring the fish home (catfish, carp, whatever was available), and they’d swim in the tub till it was time to eat them.

    Gee…why can’t I have childhood memories like that?

  34. Ellen Wilson Says:

    I think I will post some fish pics and see if Janice swims over to my blog. I swear she is a Neptunian. E

  35. Friar Says:

    @Ellen

    You have fish pics? I’d be interested in seeing you post them.

    (I had some scuba diving with the disposable-flash cameras). But they’re pretty crummy photos unless you’re in less than 4 feet of water.


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