Northern Pike

On land we have voracious bears that will eat almost anything. In the rivers and lakes, without a doubt, the most voracious fish in North America is the northern pike. Pike are solitary fish that seldom travel with others of their species. They hide behind sunken logs or in weed beds and will eat anything that moves— from water insects to the smaller of their own species.

If you are fishing in waters that have both pike and muskellunge, be mindful of the season and allowable catch. Although these two species are similar, one stand-out feature is the number of scales on the cheeks and gill covers. Northern pike cheeks are fully scaled while “musky” cheeks are only half scaled.

Fishing with a thermometer can increase your chances of catching any fish. Northern pike are found in waters as cool as 50℉. and as warm as 70℉. As for hearing and sight, fish are exceptionally blessed with both.They have what is called “periscope vision.” In short, as a fish looks upwards, on a calm day, its vision will bend and reflect a person fishing on shore or standing in a boat. To cut down on light-rays reflection, wear greyish colours (this also goes for the colour of your rod).

When fishing brook trout, using a fly rod in a stream, stay back as far as possible or even get down on one knee; better still, crouch so the fish can’t pick up your image with their amazing periscope vision.

I spent two years observing and recording what pike eat. The fact is, they will eat anything that swims, flies or crawls—that includes turtles, muskrats, ducks and everything in-between. A little patience is needed to hook these ferocious feeders. Generally, they strike their prey broadside and then expel the water they have taken in, turn the “bait” and swallow it. The first time a pike strikes your live bait, wait a second to feel the second hit. This is when the bait is going down the throat. Making one good hook set is not the best way to set a hook. Make sure the line is snug, and then make several snaps on the line to set the hook deep into the pike’s skin.

Most fishermen, when purchasing fish hooks (on lures or single hooks), think that the hooks are already sharp. That’s why people lose so many fish. You should always carry a hook-sharpening stone in your tackle box, to cast a true, sharp hook that will easily penetrate bone matter or thick-skin.


Atlin pike burger
INGREDIENTS

3 lbs. pike, filleted and coarsely ground

8–10 unsalted crackers

1 large white onion, minced

2 eggs

1 tsp. salt

1 pinch of each: pepper, thyme, tarragon, dried parsley

METHOD

Crush the crackers and mince the onion. Add eggs and mix in salt, pepper and remaining spices. Mix in coarsely ground pike and shape into patties. Add bacon fat and then add lemon to suit your taste buds. Present on hamburger buns and enjoy.


Tagish broiled pike fillets
INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. pike, filleted

¼ cup butter, melted

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. salt

Dash of paprika

1 tsp. chives, chopped

1 tsp. parsley

Lemon for garnish, sliced

Mint for garnish (optional)

METHOD

Lay fillets on greased foil on a broiler pan. Combine all remaining ingredients and pour over fillets. Place broiler in preheated oven about 3 inches under the element. Broil for about 8 minutes (depending on thickness of fillets).

Baste with sauce during broiling. When fillets flake (test with fork), the fish is cooked to optimum taste. Serve on a hot platter garnished with slices of lemon, parsley and (if you wish) mint.


Carcross pike fillets forestiere (of the forest)
INGREDIENTS

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

4 lbs. pike, filleted

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 shallot, chopped

¼ lb. brown mushrooms, diced

2 potatoes, cooked and diced

1 lemon, peeled and diced

METHOD

Heat butter and oil in a large frying pan on medium heat. Place fish, skin down, and cook for 2 minutes. Turn fillets over, season and continue to cook another 2 minutes (according to size). Move fish to hot platter and set aside. Place frying pan on top of stove and add shallots and vegetables. Season well with salt and pepper and cook 3 to 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in diced lemon and cool for 1 minute. Spoon over fillets.


Quebec fried pike
INGREDIENTS

Pike fillets, deboned

Eggs

Milk

Cornflakes, finely crumbled

Lemon, juiced

Pepper, to taste

METHOD

Debone pike fillets. Drag fillets through an egg and milk mixture. Then roll fillets in cornflakes (crumbled fine) roll fillets in the crumbs to get a good covering. Season with lemon and pepper. Fry until fish flakes with a fork.


Ontario pike in wine sauce
INGREDIENTS

4 lbs. pike, filleted

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup flour

3 Tbsp. cooking oil

1 cup peeled tomatoes, diced

1 cup white wine

1 cup white onions, chopped

1 cup mushrooms, sliced and sautéed

2 Tbsp. parsley, chopped

METHOD

Season fillets with salt and pepper. Roll in flour. Sauté fillets and onions in oil until browned on both sides and they flake with a fork. In a skillet, add tomatoes and wine to onions and cook no more than 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and parsley. Heat thoroughly, pour sauce over fillets and sprinkle with parsley. Remove fish from the heat, keeping it warm in a skillet. Serve immediately.