For those who keep northerns to eat, I'm curious to know what the max size is that you would keep for the pan. Like any fish I'm sure the monsters probably don't taste as good as smaller/younger ones, but where is the cut off? 30"? 36"?
For me to keep a pike, it needs to be between 18 and 26". Anything larger goes back.
I despise this state's southern pike regs....they send the wrong message to the public and do nothing to enhance or maintain the pike fisheries.
Here's what the 26" regs say to the public...when pike are abundant, more easily replaced, delicious, and better for you to eat (larger pike naturally have much more fat in them, this is where toxins are stored in the highest quantity), you must release them, but as soon as they get to 26" and begiin to become a "special" fish, go ahead and take three.
No fish in the state would benefit more from a slot limit than pike....those fish over 30" need to be protected, not harvested.
There's no logical reasoning why SE WI can't/shouldn't be a trophy pike destination...but with a 26" limit, that just won't happen....40" pike shouldn't be so uncommon....at east not as uncommon as they are. Big pike should be treated with the same respect as a musky.
In any lake with pike, smaller pike will always be the most abundant, and the most replaceable...these are the fish that should be encouraged to be harvested.
Canada (Ontario) figured this out decades ago...and guess what, despite decades of massive harvest, fisheries have maintained, and coolers get filled...a true win-win if there ever was one.
Our "cut off" is at 27" due to the slot (27.5 - 35.5) in Zone 4 Ontario. The dock hands filet our fish and prefer to work with 22" to 26" northerns. They really know how to filet a northern and one fish in this range will feed the 3 of us. If your interested in how to get a boneless northern filet let Earl show you, he's the best!
I suppose a lot has to do with the body of water too. If there are a ton of them, keeping a few @30" probably won't make much of a difference. On waters where they're rare, they should likely go back.
Just so the people who are against keeping monsters know, I'd never do what a kid did on a trip to Red Lake, Ontario did. Caught a 42" or 44" (don't recall...just know it was BIG) and then filleted it. I can tell you the lodge owner was not happy about that.
Personally whether im fishing in the northern or southern part of the state my cut off is typically 28. In the northwoods I pretty much let them all go over 26. 23-27 is my preferred range from across the state. I like catching 30"+ pike but not enough people release the ones that are fat healthy and approaching 30".
My group prefers to keep 18-26" pike. We clean them so they are boneless. Under 18 is harder to clean, but we have done it. When you get over 26" they become harder to cook evenly due to thickness. Probably better suited to baking than frying, but we prefer frying.
By the way, pike taste terrible, and all of you should release them....at least on the lakes I fish!
Yes, I think time of year is an important aspect as far as taste quality is concerned. And as someone posted, I will certainly keep what I feel like if it's within the regulations. Honestly, I'd probably keep anything up to 32" just because I LOVE northerns. In my opinion, they're equal to or better than walleye. But I don't catch many, with my biggest "kept" northern was a beautiful 31" on Leech Lake. The reason I used quotation marks is because although it ended up in the livewell, when I took it out at the dock the escape plan it devised while sitting in there was put into motion and it got away from me :-(
At least I had pics to prove I had caught one lol.
20-28" will be your keeper size fish on the majority of Wisconsin lakes, where regulations permit. On lakes without size limits, fish over 30" generally make up a very small percentage of the population and at that point are no longer suitable for table fair, in my opinion.