Mark Beauchesne: (603) 271-3212
Liza Poinier: (603) 271-3211
April 22, 2004

Want to Tangle With a Toothy Terror? Go Pike Fishing

Fisherman Steve Whitney reeled in this 43-inch, 17.5-pound lunker pike last month on the Connecticut River -- see below for a closeup of its formidable chops.

CONCORD, N.H. -- For anglers who relish a toothy battle with a large, slick, thrashing game fish, extreme adventure is on tap right here in the Granite State when you go fishing for northern pike.

The largest, fiercest predator of New Hampshire's freshwater rivers, lakes and ponds, the pike is noted for its long, pointed snout and mouth full of sharp, backward-slanting teeth. "Northern pike have got some serious teeth," says Mark Beauchesne, Let's Go Fishing Coordinator for N.H. Fish and Game. "And fishing for pike is totally exciting. All I can say is, I can't wait to go!" He describes a favorite, if hair-raising, pike fishing moment: watching the water "stand up" as the powerful fish chases and strikes the bait, like a scene out of a deep-sea monster movie. "I still remember the first time I hooked a pike," he said. "I saw it chase my lure, strike it, I turned to set my hook and it jumped, which really put me in the back seat -- that pike was as strong as a smallmouth bass would ever be."

John Viar and Don Miller, fisheries biologists for Fish and Game's Lakes Region office, recommend the Orford area in western New Hampshire for pike fishing -- including Reeds Marsh (a Fish and Game Wildlife Management Area) and other nearby setbacks of the Connecticut River. Viar also highly recommends the Moore Reservoir in Littleton, where in 2002 Jacques Renaud caught the state record northern pike (45 inches, 24 lbs. 14.4 oz.) through the ice. Other pike fishing hotspots on the Connecticut include White's Cove in Charlestown and the setbacks in Hanover and Hinsdale.

pike teeth -- yowch!
In case you were wondering why we recommend fishing with a wire leader...

Gabe Gries, also a Fish and Game fisheries biologist, describes pike as an underutilized, overlooked resource. He says, "There are many places in New Hampshire where pike populations are consistent, with good reproduction and growth, and large, two- and three-foot fish," which during March and April are foraging heavily in preparation for spawning. Though pike are most popular during ice-fishing season, anglers can have good success now and for the next couple of weeks fishing them throughout the setback and slower sections of the Connecticut River. Through early June, fish for pike in shallow coves and bays of lakes and ponds including Franklin Pierce Lake, Hillsborough; Massabesic Lake, Auburn; Skatutakee Lake, Harrisville; Spofford Lake, Chesterfield; Jericho Lake, Berlin; Upper Baker Pond, Orford; Dodge Pond and Ogontz Pond, Lyman; Partridge Lake, Littleton; and Pow Wow River Pond, Kingston.

Because of those intimidating teeth, be sure to use a wire leader when you fish for pike -- and carry a jaw spreader, which holds the pike's mouth open while you safely remove the hook. Many baits appeal to pike; some to try are a large inline spinner bait, propeller bait, buzz bait or minnow-type jerk bait. Fly anglers should use a 7- to 9-weight rod, floating or intermediate line and large flies, size #1 or greater. Many saltwater flies work well, says Beauchesne, such as baitfish imitations, in a yellow and white or red and white pattern; or large balsa poppers, or diving deerhead flies.

There is no closed season on northern pike in New Hampshire. The bag limit is one per day, and the minimum length is 28 inches. Ready to go out and tangle with the titan of New Hampshire game fish? Get your license online -- any time -- at

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.

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