The Pike in Western New York
Fishermen in Western New York have a strange relationship with Esox Lucius, or the Northern Pike. For every angler you find that loves hunting trophy pikes in weed strewn backwaters, you’ll find two or three that consider them a nuisance trash fish.
As spring spawners, northern pike often begin to move into waters targeted by pre spawn bass fisherman, making encounters with the toothy predator more common than some folks want them to be. In particular, some of the Western Finger Lakes have become inundated with the Northern’s smaller cousin, the chain pickerel. A day of late spring bass fishing can easily turn up 15 to 30 little pickerel for every bass landed.
At the price of a Senko, that can be frustrating.
Count this writer, however, among the ranks of freshwater anglers that consider the Northern Pike to be one of the Northeast’s true treasures, and a game species worth spending some time learning more about.
Record New York State Pike
As anglers, we’re all size queens. So any worthwhile discussion of the Northern Pike should begin with an account of the largest pike on record for our state. While not caught in Western New York, it was landed within a 3 hour drive of Rochester, which is noteworthy.
In 1940, Peter Dubuc landed a 46 pound 2 oz monster in a quiet bay of Great Sacandaga Lake, near Amsterdam. I’d tell the story, but it may be better to let Peter do it himself:
“I’d worked back and forth over prime pike ground for over an hour and a half without a strike, something that rarely happened to me in those waters. Now, approaching an area I knew was spiked with stumps , I revved the outboard a bit to bring my plug up where it wouldn’t snag.
The water was only 9 or 10 feet deep. The drowned stumps left when the timber was cleared before the valley was flooded (1930) were a favorite hang out of big Northerns. If couldn’t raise a pike here I might as well quit. But I knew I wouldn’t do that for a while, no matter what happened.
Tagged northern pike