Other Names: Pike, Northerns
Scientific Name: Esox lucius
Adult Size: Sexual maturity is generally reached between 3-5 years of age, at which time pike may average between 24-30 inches long and weigh 3.5 to 7.5 pounds. Pike exceeding 30 pounds have been caught in Maine.
Identifications: Scales are present on the upper half of the gill cover, but are absent on the lower half. The cheek area (located just forward of the gill plate), is fully scaled. Pike usually have five pairs of sensory pores along the underside of the lower jaw. The cheeks and gill covers of chain pickerel are fully scaled, and generally only four pairs of sensor pores are present on the lower jaw. The pattern of markings is typically very different on adult and juvenile pike. Juvenile pike possess wavy, white to yellow vertical bars. Adults have shorter markings arranged in a more horizontal configuration. Pike can hybridize with chain pickerel, and the resulting hybrid may possess markings common to either or both species.
Know the difference between Northern Pike and Chain Pickerel.
Maine Fishing Guide Angling Tips:
Unfortunately several species of game fish have been seriously compromised by the illegal introduction of pike into waters across the state. Our Maine Fishing guides do not encourage "catch and release" on this big "bad boy". On a positive note, Northern Pike are one of the most exciting fish to catch in Maine waters and have drawn a large following of anglers wishing to catch a big fish. They like to follow lures and often take an unsuspecting angler off guard, as they roll near the boat, upon retrieving a lure from the water. Therefore, consider doing a "s pattern" with the tip of your rod before lifting your lure from the water. Pike will take live bait, as well as lures. Large bait fish is an ideal choice to target pike and generally exclude other species. I have seen a legal 14" salmon in the stomach of a captured pike.
Northern Pike are found where their belly dictates. They don't travel in schools and can usually be found around various types of of lake structure looking for their next meal. Rocky points, breaks, rock piles and humps are classic examples of structure that will attract Northern Pike. In shallow water, Northern Pike usually swim around mid depth. They hang closer to the bottom in deeper water. Early after ice forms, Pike can be found in fairly shallow water accompanied by weed , points and gravel bars. As winter progresses, Northern Pike move into deeper water where the bait fish gather. Start by fishing weed beds and offshore bars. As spring nears, Pike move into shallower water in preparation for spawning. More pike have been caught using a single hook and a sucker minnow on a ice fishing Tip-up. I suggest using a medium sucker minnow in the 6-8 inch range. It is most important to be fishing where the pike are hanging out. So, do your homework and have fun.