Ice-out normally begins in early March in New Jerseyís northern lakes. However,
this year there has been only a short period of ice and a very early start to
the winter open water period.
Northern pike spawn in late winter and begin moving to spawning areas in late
February to early March. In lakes, pike move into shallow areas near creek mouths
and coves with decaying aquatic vegetation or flooded terrestrial vegetation.
In rivers, they move upstream to flooded backwater areas and can concentrate below
blockages such as dams. During the spawning period, large numbers of pike move
in and around these spawning areas, making locating fish more predictable.
is a year-round open season for northern pike. The Division has no concern about
fishing for pike during the spawning period as the fishery is not dependent on
natural reproduction. New Jersey is outside the native range for northern pike
and although successful reproduction is possible, any recruitment would be considered
a bonus and is not expected to contribute significantly to the fishery. Our pike
fisheries are maintained by annually stocking fingerlings reared at the Hackettstown
State Fish Hatchery.
techniques for winter pike are relatively simple. Using large live 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 tipped with a plastic tail, have been
favorites of pike fisherman for generations. Large spinners, such as number 4
or 5 Mepps cast or trolled, are also effective.