Northern pike are a very aggressive hard fighting coolwater species. They prefer
relatively shallow weedy areas of lakes and slow moving rivers. There is a marked
tendency for movement to deeper, cooler water during the summer when water temperatures
are highest, especially for the larger fish. Although not as readily kept for
eating as compared to other species, the flesh of the pike, albeit more bony,
is very tasty and makes excellent fish cakes.
pike are relatively adaptable to a variety of waters in the northern half of the
state, the most surprising of all being the Passaic River. Good fishable populations
with fish up to 15 pounds are also present in Spruce Run Reservoir, Budd
Lake (pdf, 260kb), Farrington Lake, Cranberry
Lake, Pompton Lake, Deal Lake and Pompton River. Fish the pockets in weedy
areas and along the weedline in lakes and the deeper holes and around fallen trees
in rivers. Pike will be found moving into deeper water in the heat of the summer.
In lakes, the mouths of tributary streams can be very productive in spring, just
before and after the spawning period.
Passaic River Pike - Feature Article, 2/13
best pike fishing is during the cooler seasons, fall, winter and spring. Pike
feed entirely in the daylight and are active all day with morning considered to
be the better fishing period. The pre-spawn period just after ice-out, and after
spawning in early April, are a very productive periods. Winter ice fishing is
one of the most productive and popular periods to fish for pike.
Using large shiners fished on the bottom or with a bobber is effective in both
lakes and rivers. Large spoons, such as the Daredevil and Johnson weedless, have
been synonymous with pike fishing for generations. Large spinners, such as number
4 or 5 Mepps, cast or trolled, are also very effective. Ice fish using tip-ups
with large shiners or medium suckers, even dead bait, near the bottom. Fly fishing
with large streamers is effective and becoming more popular.
When using live bait, a light wire leader is recommended. Live bait fishing demands
a bit of patience on the angler's part. Pike typically grab the bait sideways,
then attempt to swim off to turn their catch in their mouth and swallow it. Trying
to set the hook to quickly often results in the hook being pulled from the bait
or the entire bait being yanked from the fish's mouth.
Northern Pike Distribution Map
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2016 (pdf, 27kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2015 (pdf, 27kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2014 (pdf, 24kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2013 (pdf, 18kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2012 (pdf, 12kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2011 (pdf, 9kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2010 (pdf, 14kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2009 (pdf, 9kb)
Northern Pike Stocking Summary, 2008 (pdf, 8kb)
Northern Pike Fact Sheet (pdf, 19kb)
back to Fabulous Fishing in New Jersey
Back to Warmwater Fish