Michigan’s Best Northern Pike Waters

by Justin Clark on February 12, 2012

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man with a large norther pikeNorthern Pike are toothy predators most commonly associated with the weedy shallows of both the Great Lakes and inland waters. In rivers, they are often found around log jams or fallen timber.

Pike spawn in early spring and are usually found in shallow water when the season opens — the last Saturday of April in the Lower Peninsula, May 15 in the Upper Peninsula, though the Great Lakes and connecting waters of the Lower Peninsula are open year-round. As summer progresses, they are found in deeper water, often on the outside edges of deep weed beds. Pike can be taken on live bait (primarily large minnows) and all manner of artificial lures, either by trolling or casting. Large diving or topwater plugs, spoons — the red and white Dardevle is a classic — and spinners all produce. Because of the pike’s sharp teeth, many anglers recommend the use of wire leaders.

close up of a PikePike are popular quarry of ice fishermen. Though they are primarily pursued with tip ups, baited with live minnows or suckers, they can be taken with rod and reel, either jigging or fishing with bait. Pike are a prime target of spear fishermen as well, who often use decoys or suspend suckers below their shanties to lure pike within range in relatively shallow water.

Pike typically spawn in the weedy backwater marshes; low water levels on the Great Lakes in recent years have probably hampered their reproductive success. Still, the shallow weedy bays of the Great Lakes and connecting waters, such as Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, the Portage Lake system of Lake Superior and the bays of Lakes Michigan and Huron, remain productive pike waters. winter pike fishing

Inland, the drowned river mouths along the Lake Michigan shoreline – such as Muskegon Lake, Portage Lake and Manistee Lake – are all noted pike waters. Some of the larger inland lakes and reservoirs, such as Michigamme and Houghton, have significant pike populations, though they can be found in many lakes and virtually all the larger rivers in the state.

Unfortunately, pike are susceptible to stunting and many lakes and streams have large populations of slow-growing individuals. In a number of these bodies of water, there is no size limit. Otherwise, pike must be 24 inches to keep and there are a handful of lakes in the Upper Peninsula, and Fish Lake in Barry County, with a 30-inch size limit.

 

Alcona County Alger County Alpena County
Allegan County Antrim County Arenac County
Baraga County Barry County Bay County
Benzie County Berrien County Branch County
Calhoun County Cass County Charlevoix County
Cheboygan County Chippewa County Clare County
Clinton County Crawford County Delta County
Dickinson County Eaton County Emmet County
Genesee County Gladwin County Gogebic County
Grand Traverse County Hillsdale County Houghton County
Huron County Ingham County Ionia County
Iosco County Iron County Isabella County
Jackson County Kalamazoo County Kalkaska County
Kent County Keweenaw County Lake County
Lapeer County Leelanau County Lenawee County
Livingston County Luce County  Mackinac County
Macomb County  Manistee County Marquette County
Mason County Mecosta County  Menominee County
Midland County Missaukee County Monroe County
Montcalm County  Montmorency County Muskegon County
Newaygo County Oakland County Oceana County
Ogemaw County  Ontonagon County Osceola County 
Oscoda County Otsego County Ottawa County 
Presque Isle County Roscommon County Sanilac County
St. Clair County Schoolcraft County Shiawassee County
St. Joseph County Tuscola County  VanBuren County
Washtenaw County  Wayne County Wexford County
Gratiot County 

 

Copyright © 2012 State of Michigan

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mick February 13, 2012 at 7:06 AM

Hi,
Good idea to list best fishing waters……. but, when I click on a county to get a list of best PIKE waters instead I get a list of best WALLEYE waters.
Mick

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Justin Clark February 13, 2012 at 12:03 PM

Fixed it thanks for the heads up.

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