Measuring-up to Yukon Pike

We are fortunate in the Yukon that we can simply throw the rods in the car, the canoe on the roof and within an hour of Whitehorse we are paddling into some world-class pike fishing.

Northern pike are notoriously aggressive and relatively easy to catch. Throw something shiny into the water and there is a good chance you may hook into one of these toothy critters. When the bite is on, you may find yourself catching one after another with blissful thoughts of filling the freezer.

Often with this level of action comes an even greater level of responsibility. Caught up in the catching frenzy, it is often easy to forget the regulations surrounding many of our prime pike waters.

Productive lakes, such as Marsh, Snafu, Pine, Tarfu and Little Atlin, are all considered “special-management waters” and require careful consideration under the Yukon Fishing Regulations.

For example, the general fishing regulations allow for five pike in possession with only one fish allowed over 30 inches. The aforementioned special-management waters allows only four in possession, with all pike over 30 inches to be released.

It seems straightforward enough, but without forethought and in the midst of an adrenaline-filled big fight, it can slip the mind.

Some suggestions to keep these special regulations top-of-the-mind is to read them in advance of your trip, talk about them with your group before you fish, keep a copy of them in your tackle box and fishing vest and carry a tape measure with you at all times.

It is also handy to mark 30 inches on a paddle or the gunnels of your boat. With the paddle technique or short retractable ruler, you can often measure the fish while it is still in the water.

I was recently fishing on Snafu Lake and was allowed to take one more pike to meet my possession limit. Late in the evening, I hooked into a lunker and brought it close to the boat. With a ruler handy, I made a quick measurement and, allowing for some wiggle room, was able to tell that the fish was just over 29 inches.

This was a perfectly sized legal fish, fit for a family feast.

In addition to these special-management waters, there are a series of conservation waters. These lakes, such as Frances, Aishihik and Bennett, feature an additional set of measurements called “slot limits”. Unlike the special-management waters, you can keep one fish over 45 inches.

The reason for these special regulations is to be able to better manage specific bodies of water and species. By releasing fish over 30 inches, we are keeping the prime spawners in the water reproducing to keep populations intact.

Many of us go out into the Yukon wilderness to escape the stresses of daily life. It takes the fun and relaxation out of the experience when one is ill-prepared and inadvertently takes an illegal fish.

If you would like to share your fishing story or hear more about this one, visit Dennis Zimmermann’s Yukon fishing blog at

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