Northern Pike Myths Exploded Ė Jeff Sundin December 2005
What would you say if I told you that there was an almost
unlimited supply of fresh fish, easy to catch and delicious to eat, all
within a half-hour drive of your home? Well, there is and anybody, who knows
me very well, has been treated to Northern Pike in one form or another. I
can honestly say that the majority of these folks have gone away with a new
attitude about catching, cleaning and cooking pike. You simply canít beat
these scrappy fish for a huge variety of recipes and the abundance of the
smaller fish in Northern Minnesota lakes is simply so great that they would
be nearly impossible to over fish. With more new regulations aimed at
protecting larger Northern Pike coming our way, itís more important than
ever to do everything we can to utilize this abundant supply of smaller fish
and here are some great ideas that will help you do just that.
Myth #1 Ė Northern Pike donít taste as good as Walleye.
The Truth (according to me): Fresh Northern Pike are delicious! The real trouble is that they donít freeze well. So the solution is to keep a small number of Pike on every outing with the intention of using them while theyíre fresh. This applies to Pike that you will use for any recipe, donít try to keep them in the freezer and you will be forever happy with the flavor.
Myth #2 Ė You canít get the Y-Bones out of smaller Pike.
The Truth (according to me): These small bones are easy to remove if you will simply take a closer look at where they are. Most folks have been told so many times that the Y-bones are a problem that theyíre just afraid to dig in and learn how to remove it. There really is no "Y" in the Y-bone and with a little practice, you can remove this in a few seconds. Just remember this simple trick, the bone lays in the same direction as the grain of the meat. So just like working with wood, follow the grain and your knife will flow along the edge of the bone(s) with ease.
Smaller Pike like this one are perfect for most recipes and provide many hours of fishing action for youngsters. Many a fishing partner, have this scrappy fish made.
Myth #3 Ė You canít eat Pike without first removing the
The Truth (according to me): Thereís no reason (except for convenience) to remove the Y-bones. I think itís really nice to remove them before frying, baking or boiling pike. But, for Pickling, canning or for fish cakes, there is no need to remove the bones at all. If you leave the bones in fish for frying, they can be easily removed before eating by splitting the upper section of the fried fillet halfway between the centerline and the top (back) of the fillet. Separate the pieces along this cut line and youíll see all of the bones, remove them all at once and dig in.
Myth #4 Ė Northern Pike are Slimy.
The Truth (according to me): Northern Pike are Slimy. Sorry folks you canít win Ďem all, but you can minimize the drama if you make a point of cleaning these fish while they are still fresh. Pike, like most other game fish will produce a build up of slime when they are placed in a cooler or if theyíre allowed to die on a stringer or in a poorly aerated live well. You can beat the system by waiting until closer to the end of your trip before saving some Pike. Keep them last and clean them first is a super rule to go by. By the way, this is a huge contributing factor in Myth #1 and by remembering to keep fish fresh, youíll be solving two problems at once.
Myth #5 Ė Small Pike are no fun to catch.
The Truth (according to me): Small Pike are no fun to catch on heavy gear. Scale down to your lightweight spinning gear and fish them with light line using jig & minnow or live bait rigs. A six-foot spinning rod with six-pound test line will get you into a ton of action and itís the perfect opportunity to introduce youngsters to sport fishing. I can still remember the thrill of catching my first Northern. Iíll bet that fish didnít even weigh two pounds, but it was a thrill. It was my first "big fish" and most kids will feel the same way I did. Let the kids do the catching, keep a few for dinner and youíll have a fishing partner for life.
Myth #6 Ė Northern Pike bite off all of my tackle.
The Truth (according to me): You can prevent ninety percent of all "bite-offs" by adding a very simple nylon leader. Use a heavy 17 to 20 pound test monofilament line, tie directly to your jig or live bait hook and connect it to you fishing line with a small swivel or snap-swivel. Most Pike wonít bite through the heavy mono line, but it will remain flexible enough to give your bait the "good action" you need to catch more fish. You can use steel leaders too. But if you notice that the leader is getting kinks or gets twisted, youíll need to change it right away.
Okay, so there you are; six of my best arguments to try and convince you that using some of these smaller Pike can make great sense. Do yourself a favor and give these small Pike a try. You wonít be disappointed with the table quality and youíll be doing your favorite lake a favor.
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