Northerns are one of Michigan's top gamefish
Written by The News Herald   
Sunday, 01 May 2005 08:26
I'm not exactly sure how old I was the first time my father took me fishing, but I'm pretty sure that, while he held a tackle box in one hand, a diaper bag occupied the other.

Like so many others in this Great Lakes State, fishing was an important part of my early life.

Perch, bass, bluegills, and walleye all made up the day-to-day creels that filled our coolers. But there was yet another species of fish that caught the imagination of this young man back then and has yet to let go throughout the years. That fish is the northern pike.

Like the large-racked whitetail that comes as a result of patience or the huge walleye that falls victim to a technique you've finally mastered, the personal satisfaction felt each time you boat a trophy northern is indescribable.

One of the best things about the pike as far as Downriver anglers are concerned is the number of them that are within a few minutes boat ride from our launches.

"You wouldn't believe the number of northern pike that folks catch while simply perch fishing," said Steve Lyell from the Wyandotte Boat Ramp. "Two guys that launched here last week told me that, while fishing along the cross-dike, they not only caught their limit of perch, they hooked approximately 40 northern pike. That place has to be loaded with them."

These fish rule most any water they inhabit. They feed at will and on whatever suits them at the time.

If, as they say, you are what you eat, then northern pike are a lot of things. But, besides having a veracious appetite, these toothy critters have the disposition of a rooster that missed daylight - ornery to say the least!

For example, while longlining for pike with a friend some time ago, I began fighting a respectable northern. Shortly after beginning the fight with my fish, my partner set the hook with one as well and the battle was on.

Imagine our surprise when we netted a fish and discovered that we were both fighting the same one. While hooked to my line, this angry pike had the voracity to swim over and grab my buddy's lure, too!

While they're feeding habits and sour disposition allow them rule most of the waters they inhabit, those traits are also what make them the most vulnerable.

Their seemingly unlimited appetite allows them to be fooled by a variety of angling techniques. This and the fact that we live in a state with more pike-inhabited lakes than any other, makes the northern pike one of Michigan's most popular gamefish.

"I love taking my grandkids fishing for pike on our lake in Southern Michigan," said Eugene Porter, of Riverview. "Although they enjoy catching perch and bluegills while spending time with us, reeling in a northern is a special thrill to them. They're really excited after landing one and talk about it all summer."

Whether you're fishing in the Detroit River or an inland lake, look for those areas that include a good amount of weed beds. During the early morning or late afternoon, pike can be caught while inhabiting some rather shallow water.

I've caught some of my largest northerns in water that was less than three-feet deep.

If there are weeds or other structure such as wood or rock around, chances are there'll be northern pike hanging in the vicinity looking for an easy meal.

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