Meet the Fish: Northern Pike
Praised by some, damned by others, the northern pike has a unique status as both native game fish and invasive exotic in Alaska. Its natural range is mostly Sub-Arctic, in the Yukon-Kuskokwim area to the Brooks Range, as well as a small population in Yakutat. Recently (and illegally) introduced to some Southcentral lakes, the voracious pike are wreaking havoc among native fishes of that area. Averaging 5-12 lbs, the pike can reach weights in excess of 40 lbs and lengths of 4 feet or more. Available from April to October, the best fishing is often during the months of May, when pike are spawning in the shallows, and October, when the last of the seasonal feeding opportunities cause them to gorge on most any food source they come across.
Gear and Flies
If the Chinook is the heavyweight champ and coho are the princes, then pike are the street fighters of Alaska's fish. Explosive top water takes, bone-jarring subsurface hits, and maniacal airborne theatrics mean only one thing: heavy gear. The prudent pike angler gears up with an 8, 9, or 10 weight rod matched to a heavy-duty large arbor reel. Depending upon the method of presentation, fly line choices include floating lines and sinking tip lines to deliver your offering to the proper depth. Wire leaders are a necessity due to the fierce dentition of the pike and its effects upon even the heaviest of monofilaments. Fly selections should cover the top water and subsurface arenas, with popular flies including frogs, pike poppers, deceivers, and leeches.