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lookincalifornia

keeper or hammer handle?

9 posts in this topic

a question was raised on the iowa forum and i thought i'd check you guys for your opinions.

at what size does a fish cease to be a snake, hammer handle, snot rocket, and becomes a 'keeper' or just a good fish?

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The dnr would prefer that pike fisherman keep the 1-2 lbers from what some COs have said to me. By the time they are hitting that 3-4 lb range they have survived a lot of other things and are really only taken out of the lake by fisherman. Not try to start an argument, just what I have been told by COs when they have checked me while pike fishing.

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Once they reach 3 or 4 pounds is when I release them, I only keep the sub 25 inchers.

If people actually want to be able to catch descent pike in the future, more people are going to have to start doing the same too. The size structures of Northern pike populations are extremely susceptible to being messed up if there is an overharvest of larger individuals. If the lake has very good spawning areas for pike at all, then overharvest of large fish can stunt out a population pretty quickly, and the effects can last for a long time.

In lakes with an abundance of northern pike, picking out the smaller pike will often actually help improve the size structure of pike, so go ahead small pike taste great.

Northern Pike are an awesome fish, but for me, not so much fun to catch when all there are to catch are stunted 20 inchers.

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I never keep any pike over 2 foot.. maybe a few inches leeway if it's looking like the only fish of the day. Smaller fish taste better, the meat has a better texture, and are less polluted.

Among the other good things that fishcast mentioned.

I use the term "keeper" usually to mean a smaller fish or one that's doomed from the hookset, and luckily for me that has never been a large pike.

With me, the big-uns always go back laugh

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Found one 28" belly up floating by the dock one morning in July. Color was still good and rigimortis hadn't set in yet so I cleaned it and fried it. Hard to tell if the fishy taste was due to the size or the fact that it was dead. Still it was plenty for 4 people. Still no idea what killed it, no signs of being caught, didn't choke on anything, no visible injuries, still a healthy weight, no sign of disease. My best guess is low oxygen due to a really light color in the gills.

Threw all I caught back this year. If I had to keep one I'd aim for the 20"-24" range. Large enough that there's some meat but still young enough to have the good clean taste. Caught a lot of 26"-28"ers this year, must have been a good year class 4-5 years ago.

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If I'm going to keep pike, I go for the 20-24" range as well. Less than 20" and they are tasty, but pretty skinny.

I've read some information that pike need to have a length of 24" minimum before they can start foraging for high energy prey like ciscoes. Between 18-24" is where they feed on largely on perch, but may not get enough energy to ever cross this boundry.

So if you're on a lake with ciscoes and lots of growth potential, throw back those fish once they get to 24". They may have a chance of being a trophy someday!

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There are a number of Minnesota lakes now with special Pike regulations. The Dnr is managing them for potential trophy sized fish.

Most of those lakes, my home lake included, have the same (or nearly the same) slot.

The 24" to 36" protected slot, has been on Vermilion for 5 years now, what a huge difference it has made.

The average size on Vermilion has increased by a couple of pounds in just 5 years. There are still enough decent fish around for harvest in the 22 to 23 inch range, those numbers have held up pretty well

in my estimation.

The Biggest difference is now you have a real chance at catching the largest Pike of your life, every time you go fishing on Vermilion.

Selective harvest works for managing "Trophy" Pike on those systems that have the potential.

I think we may see a 50 inch Pike coming out of the Big V very soon. I have caught them close to that mark already and I know of at least a few that were only a couple inches away from that last year.

I love catching Big Pike and by releasing the 24" and above, we will always have plenty of them around for all of us "Pike Nuts" to catch and release again.

Happy Holidays!

"Ace" smile

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thanks for all the replies.

i used to spend a week on head lake(ottertail co.) that little lake is full of 18-20" pike. it would be nice to see some 24-30"

one morning i stood on the dock and caught 9 fish without moving. so when i say full, it's full.

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