Northern pike put up a good fight on the fly. They attack the fly rather voraciously and are fun to catch on a fly rod. Many lakes and even rivers have good populations of pike in Michigan.
About Northern Pike
- Northern Pike Esox lucius
Identifying characteristics: Single dorsal fin, light colored spots on darker body, upper half of gill cover and entire cheek has scales. The following northern pike features distinguish it from the muskie: light markings on a dark green background; lower half of the cheek completely scaled; five or fewer pores on each side of the underside of the jaw; and rounded tail tips. An uncommon variant called the silver pike is dark silver or greenish gray, rather like the "clear" coloration of the muskie; yet it is a northern pike and has the northern pike's scale and pore pattern.
As predators, northern pike can have significant impact on their prey species. As with muskies, pike lurk in the cover of vegetation in the lake?s clear, shallow, warm waters near shore, although they retreat somewhat deeper in midsummer. They seem to be always lying in wait for their next victim, driven by an insatiable appetite.
Pike consume large numbers of smaller fish, about 90 percent of their diet, but seem willing to supplement their diet with any living creature their huge jaws can surround, including frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, rodents, and other small mammals. Their preferred food size is approximately one third to one half the size of the pike itself.
Great Lakes pike spawn in the shallows in April or May, right after the ice leaves, and before muskies reproduce. As a result of their eating habits, young pike grow rapidly in both length and weight. Females become sexually mature at age three or four years, and males at two to three years. Beyond sexual maturity, pike continue to gain weight, although more slowly. Great Lakes pike have an average life span of 10 to 12 years.
Pike eggs and new hatchlings (which stay inactive, attached to vegetation for their first few days of life) fall prey in large numbers to larger pike, perch, minnows, waterfowl, water mammals, and even some insects. Larger pike have two primary enemies, lampreys, and man. Spawning adult northern pike, exposing themselves recklessly in the shallows, are vulnerable to bears, dogs, and other large carnivores.
Northern pike flesh excels in flavor, thus making them a doubly rewarding game fish. Since their skin has heavy pigmentation and an unappetizing mucous coating, most people skin them or scale them carefully.
Since the Pike is the fastest swimming freshwater fish, and that they readily eat most everything in its path. They are becoming very popular with the fly-fisher.