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Northern pike are another popular game fish that can be found in rivers and lakes throughout Maine. Though an excellent sport fish, northern pike have a slightly tainted reputation due to their illegal introduction into many rivers and lakes. Unfortunately, northern pike are aggressive, predatory fish, which has led to a decline in numbers of other species in ecosystems where they have been illegally introduced.
Adult northern pike are typically around a foot in length and weigh between four and seven pounds. Larger fish are not uncommon though, particularly in Maine. Northern pike are identifiable by the sensory pores on the underside of their jaws and slender, scaled bodies. Adult pike tend to have light markings in a loose, horizontal pattern, though younger pike are more prone to having vertically aligned wavy markings. Northern pike are known to breed with chain pickerel, leading to different markings that may look similar to either or both species.
Like many predatory species, northern pike tend to prefer shallow, sheltered waters where they are able to stalk their prey. They also prefer colder waters with a rich supply of oxygen, and tend to move to the colder, deeper areas during summer when the waters begin to warm. The shallows near the riverbank are often the most productive spots when it comes to northern pike fishing, particularly on cool spring or summer mornings.
There are several tried and tested techniques when it comes to northern pike fishing. During the spawning season, adult female pike tend to stay close to the banks, and due to a lack of energy, look for an easy meal, making dead bait an excellent choice. Dead minnows or suckers always go down well with pike, though practically any small game fish will have the desired effect. Alternatively, you can attempt to attract the attention of more aggressive pike using an artificial lure such as a spoon or spinner. Metallic lures are particularly effective, and the more disturbance in the water the lure causes, the better. Fly-fishing pike is also a possibility, though success is largely limited to shallow waters.
Fortunately, there are countless great northern pike spots in Maine. Some of the more popular areas include Sabattus Pond, Great Pond in the Belgrades area and Long Pond. During the colder weather, targeting areas just off-shore will yield best results, though as it warms up, you'll want to aim a little further out. Northern pike offer a superb fishing experience, and their sheer power and aggression will provide a more than adequate challenge for all levels of angler.
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