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Northern Wi. vs Southern Wi pike

5/8/17 @ 3:55 PM
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n.pike
n.pike
User since 4/2/02

I've lived up here (Vilas) for almost 5 years now. I finally have a pretty good sense of where to go for good pike fishing. In my experience, the pike in Southern Wisconsin average consistently larger than up here. I've fished all sorts of lakes up here, even plenty "off the grid".

The pike up here seem to average between 18-23 inches. As for a big pike, anything from 26-30 may show up from time to time. But rare. Yes, there are trophies out there, but I have yet to get a really big pike up here. In fact, even hearing anyone talk about a nice pike they recently caught-just doesn't happen often at all.

In SE Wisconsin, catching a 30 incher isn't too uncommon.  

Reasons for smaller pike up here? Perhaps lack of a variety of bait fish up here. Water fertility.  The 5 fish no size limit are all things I think of. Plus, shorter growing season.


What's your experience? Wanted to keep this question to the pike thread. 

DISPLAYING 1 TO 10 OF 17 POSTS
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3/29/19 @ 3:21 PM
Brandyn Shepherd
Brandyn Shepherd
User since 1/14/16

There are some great Northern Pike lakes near Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

https://inthespread.com/freshwater/how-to-catch-pike-small-lakes-pike-fishing-videos--000119

6/17/17 @ 3:28 PM
ihookem
ihookem
User since 11/29/01

Npikeguy, that really seems to be what happens when ya get size limits. The stunted fish live long enough to reproduce more stunted fish. This is why I dont believe in size limits. I believe in less harvest, even keeping smaller fish instead of big ones. I have thought that for a long time with bluegills in the quarries around Lannon and Sussex when I was a kid. Thousands of gills but a 4" gill was about as big as you will ever catch. I also see this on the S. Fork Flambeau River. There are so many smallmouth bass that I think they are stunted. When the river is low I can stand on the bank, throw in a jig and watch 3 or 4 come out after the bait. All 6-10" and very rare  do I get a 14+ " bass. It seems there are so many that they may be eating up the walleye fry. Not sure though.


6/15/17 @ 2:09 PM
Mr.Bass1984
Mr.Bass1984
User since 6/12/10

I could of sworn I posted in this thread already, but I didn't see it anywhere.


This year ice fishing I got two pike over 30 inches on tip ups. I think both were actually over 35".  Both were nice an fat too.  One came from a 217 acre lake and the other from 27 acre lake.  The one from the larger lake we ended up keeping as it swallowed the hook and my uncle likes pike anyway.  This was central Wisconsin, but definitely the southern half of the state.

6/15/17 @ 9:12 AM
Fishlovme
Fishlovme
MEMBER since 6/22/01

I grew up in Green Bay and have lived in Southern Wisconsin for 19 years now.  I grew up fishing Northern Wisconsin Lakes and Green Bay, keeping pike from 20 inches and up.  It was a shock to me when I moved down here that there was a 26 inch minimum on pike because I found a lot of lakes down here that had a ton of 20 inch pike and no one could keep them! I asked the DNR why about the limits and all these smaller fish, it'd be nice to harvest some of them.  They explained to me that pike don't reproduce in most southern Wisconsin lakes - not enough marsh land where pike like to spawn, so they increased the limit.  There's quite a few lakes I've fished up north that I used to get descent pike, but I rarely catch one over 26 inches in southern Wisconsin, except on the Madison Chain.  Personally Pike are my favorite eating fish.  Who cares that there's some bones?  Pick them out and their flesh has a nice chewy texture to it.  Fried, pickled, grilled, baked.  I haven't found a way I didn't like pike.  I wish there were slot sizes on them.  Because there are a ton of 20ish inch pike everywhere, only a few over 26 inches, and even fewer over 30 inches.  With a slot of 20 to 28 inches  and one fish over 40 the prime spawners would still stay in the system and the good eaters would be able to be harvested.  Biggest pike I ever caught, 38 inches, I caught in a creek tributary to Green Bay in the spring time and she was full of eggs.  I was 16 years old at the time, brought that fish home and ate it.  I still feel bad about keeping that fish because it was a nice spawner.  Big Muskego put a 40 inch minimum and I've read, on that reports page mainly, that no one is yet to catch one that size. seems like a waste to me.  Lots of snake northerns in there since that size limit went into affect.  Fish is food to me, and I do fish for fun once in a while but I love to keep fish for eating.  Slots help take care of having some bigger fish for the people who love to just catch and release and also helps people who like to eat the fish.  Of course slots wouldn't work on every lake, but I think it'd work wonders up north and on several lakes in SE Wisconsin.

6/15/17 @ 9:08 AM
wsg
User since 12/19/03

I fish on a 10 acre private lake in southern part of the state.  I am probably the only one who fishes it except for a visiting grandchild .  The lake is full of pike and I never keep any in the summer and only 1 or 2 a winter that are hooked too bad.  The fish average 26-28" and rarely do I catch anything under 22".  It is not unusual to catch several over 30 on any given outing and my biggest was a very fat 40".  They all go back in the lake for the next time.

6/14/17 @ 11:23 AM
n.pike
n.pike
User since 4/2/02

That's a fascinating thought. I hadn't thought of it that way, but it makes sense to me. The pike in the U.P. of Michigan, which pretty much blends right into Northern Wisconsin are, on average, bigger than the ones in Vilas County. Could the 24 inch-2 fish limit in Michigan have much to do with that? I tend to think so. Having fish that can survive and grow big in a lake is only a good thing as they pass on those genes to their young. To me, if a pike has reached 26 and beyond, it's a quality fish and it's offspring will likely be as well. 

Another factor is that for every one big pike taken out, a bunch of smaller ones might take it's place. So, it stands to reason that up here without 26-32 inch pike in many of the lakes, there will be a lot of smaller ones to fill the niche. 

The lakes up here that are small and isolated often do not have big pike at all. The bigger lakes capable of growing the bigger fish more consistently, those are the lakes that do get fished hard. The perfect lake for growing big pike up here might just be that 200 plus acre hard to reach lake in a state or national forest. Low to medium density pike as well. Many lakes up here have musky, and in southern Wi, the pike don't have to compete as they are often "king" of the lake. Plus, more forage I believe down south as well. 

6/13/17 @ 12:17 PM
NPike_Guy
NPike_Guy
User since 8/25/08
One factor that I feel is often overlooked in the Northern vs Southern pike mystery is the role that genetics plays in growth rates. For decades now just about any pike over 18 inches on those lakes with no minimum length has hit the pickle jar. It stands to reason that we could be selecting for pike that reach sexual maturity at a much smaller size than normal and they will be the ones passing on their genes to future generations of pike. I've always thought that it would be interesting to test that theory by stocking some Southern WI fish on a smaller isolated lake up north with a stunted population and seeing what happens. Of course you would need to place a higher minimum length limit on said lake to keep the picklers away.

5/22/17 @ 1:43 PM
Ulbian
User since 9/24/03

Once you get up around Three Lakes/Eagle River the rivers are "smaller" but you can get into some nice pike on the WI River as far up as Rhinelander.  Once you get to Rhinelander and even if you extend it down to Tomahawk the primary management focus has been for muskies and walleyes and pike have been ignored...but again, some very decent fish can be found up that way in the WI river system.  

You can also get into some quality fish over on the Menominee River.  I'd be willing to bet that things would be considerably different if the WI River would've been left in it's natural state instead of being turned into a "working" river with dams in nearly every town.  

In regards to the river question one would have to better define where north meets south.  There is some really good pike water to be found on the WI river and it's flowages that exists north of highway 10.  

5/17/17 @ 10:49 PM
n.pike
n.pike
User since 4/2/02

That's cool that you've locked into something there. Again, keep that one quiet or people will be all over it. But, you know that.

Another interesting thing is that there really aren't the nice pike in the river systems like I see in Southern Wisconsin. Rivers up here are pretty much creeks for the most part up here.  

5/15/17 @ 11:19 AM
Ulbian
User since 9/24/03
Nope...not on a river.  A fairly not descript seepage lake that sees a fair amount of fishing pressure.  In typical years this pattern develops in early to mid August.  The key?  Understand the forage and understand seiche effects.   

DISPLAYING 1 TO 10 OF 17 POSTS
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