Illustrations by Joseph R. Tomelleri ©
Northern Pike are toothy predators most commonly associated with the weedy shallows of both the Great Lakes and inland waters. In rivers, they are often found around log jams or fallen timber.
During the open-water season, many anglers use artificial baits such as spoons, minnow-baits and spinners. In winter, anglers primarily use two methods when trying to catch pike: some use tip-ups with natural baits such as suckers while others enjoy the challenge of waiting in a dark shanty and attempting to lure a pike within range of their spear.
Species Minimum Size Possession Limit Possession Season Northern Pike
(See Note 7)
May 15 – Mar. 15: Upper Peninsula Great Lakes and inland waters, and St. Marys R.
Last Sat. in Apr. – Mar. 15: Lower Peninsula inland waters
Open All Year – Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, L. St. Clair, St. Clair R. and Detroit R.
Note 7 – Muskellunge & Northern Pike:
Muskellunge Harvest Tag Requirement
A non-transferable Muskellunge Harvest Tag is required in order to harvest muskellunge (including tiger muskellunge) in Michigan waters. For more information see Common Terms.
Waters with higher minimum size limits on Muskellunge: BARRY: Gun L. 46”, Thornapple L. (from McKeown Rd. to Barger Rd.) 50”. OTSEGO: Big Bear L. 50”.
Waters with lower minimum size limits on muskellunge: LUCE: Tahquamenon R. and tributaries (upstream from Upper Falls) 38″.
Lakes with Muskellunge & Northern Pike possession seasons from the last Sat. in Apr. – Nov. 30: BARRY: Thornapple L. (from McKeown Rd. to Barger Rd.) LENAWEE: L. Hudson OTSEGO: Big Bear L.
Lakes with 24” – 34” protected slot limit on northern pike and daily possession limit of 2 northern pike: ALLEGAN: Pine Cr. Flooding KALAMAZOO: Long L. (T3S, R10W, S17/18/19/30) KENT: Bass L. (T10N, R9W, S12/13/14) LUCE: Blind Sucker Flooding and Bodi L. MONTCALM: Townline and Sand L.
Waters where up to 5 northern pike of any size may be taken with only 1 greater than 24” allowed in the daily possession limit: Alcona: Badger L. Alger: Nawakwa, Trout and 16 Mile Lks. Antrim: Beals, Benway, Ellsworth, Hanley, Scotts, Six Mile, St. Clair, and Wilson Lks. Baraga: Vermillac (Worm) L. Benzie: Long L. Charlevoix: Deer, Fox, Geneserath, Six Mile, and St. Clair and Susan Lks. Cheboygan: Black R. (upstream of Tower Dam includes Tower Pond and tributaries), Paradise (Carp), Silver and Wildwood Lks. Chippewa: Frenchman and Trout (Carp) Lks. Clare: Eight Point L. and L. Thirteen Crawford: Big Creek Imp., River and Pickerel Lks. Delta: Carr, Chicago, Hamilton, and Lyman Lks. and Escanaba R. (upstream from first dam at US- 2) Dickinson: Sawyer L. Emmet: French Farm and O’Neal L. Floodings, and Paradise (Carp) L. Gladwin: L. Lancer Gogebic: African (Big and Little), Chaney, Cisco, Clearwater, East Bay, Fishhawk, Indian, Lindsley, Morley, Poor, Record, and Thousand Island Lks. Grand Traverse: Boardman L. and L. Dubonnet. Houghton: Rice L. Iron: Bone, Buck, Indian, Runkle and Winslow Lks., Hemlock Falls and Michigamme Reservoir, Michigamme Falls and Peavy Reservoir, L. St. Kathryn, Deer R., Net R., and Net R. Wide Waters. Keweenaw: Schlatter L. Leelanau: Florence L. (S. Manitou Is.). Luce: East and Muskallonge Lks. Mackinac: East, Millecoquins, and South Manistique Lks. Manistee: Bar and Chief Lks. Marquette: Bass (East), Cedar, Engman, Shag (Big), and Witch Lks., Dead R. Storage Basin, Middle Br. Escanaba R., Big West Br. Escanaba R. mainstream downstream to Boney Falls Basin (except Greenwood, Schweitzer and Cataract Reservoirs) Mason: Hackert (Crystal) L. Mecosta: Haymarsh and Horsehead Lks. Menominee: Westman Imp. Missaukee: Missaukee L. Montcalm: Crystal L. Montmorency: Robarge L., East and West Town Corner, and Pug Lks., Black R. and tributaries Muskegon: Big Blue L. Newaygo: Diamond, Emerald, Kimball, Nichols, Pickerel,Ryerson (Long) and Sylvan Lks. Oceana: Round (Wykoff) and Silver Lks. Ogemaw: East Twin Lake, L. Ogemaw Osceola: L. Miramichi, Diamond, Rose and Wells Lks. Oscoda: Pickerel L. Otsego: Black R. and tributaries Presque Isle: Francis and Orchard Lks., Ocqueoc R. and tributaries, Ocqueoc Watershed Lakes (Ann, Bullhead, Ella, Emma, Ferdelman, Gorman, Horseshoe, Lost, Louise, Lower and Upper Barnhart, May, McIntosh, Moore, Mud and Nettie, and Ocqueoc), Black R. and tributaries and Tomahawk Flooding Roscommon: L. St. Helen, Cut R. (from the river mouth at Houghton L. upstream to CO 100 just downstream of Higgins L.), Houghton L., Backus Cr. from the stream mouth upstream, including all tributaries, Little Mud L. Flooding, Backus Cr. Flooding, and Backus L. Flooding Schoolcraft: Boot, Crooked, Kennedy, Stanley and Thunder Lks.; Seney National Wildlife Refuge Pools: contact Refuge office (906-586-9851).
Waters where up to 5 northern pike 24″ or greater allowed in the daily possession limit: Lake St. Clair, St. Clair R., and Detroit R.
Waters without possession limits or size limits on northern pike: BRANCH: Lake Lavine.
Season Gear Waters Species Dec. 1 – Mar. 15 (through the ice) hand-propelled spear (only) ALL WATERS except: Designated Trout Lakes and Designated Trout Streams and Michigan-Wisconsin boundary waters. Also see Spearing Exceptions List below. See Inland Trout & Salmon Regulations for more information. northern pike and muskellunge All Type A and D lakes are Designated Trout Waters. All Types 1 and 2 streams, Gear Restricted Streams, Research Areas, Brook Trout Restoration Areas, and nearly all Types 3 and 4 streams are Designated Trout Waters.
Spearing Exceptions List
Waters Closed to Northern Pike and Muskellunge Spearing:
It shall be unlawful to fish by any means other than hook-and-line for northern pike or muskellunge in the following waters:
ALGER: Kingston L.; ALPENA/MONTMORENCY: Fletcher Floodwaters; BARRY: Thornapple L. (from McKeown Rd. to Barger Rd.); CHIPPEWA: Caribou L.; CLARE: Budd L.; CLINTON: L. Ovid; DELTA: Dana L.; DICKINSON: East, Island, South, and West Lks (all within Groveland Mines); IRON: Brule and Chicagon Lks., L. Emily, Paint L., Paint (Brule Isle Imp.) Pond, Stanley and Swan Lks.; KENT: Campau and Murray Lks.; KEWEENAW: L. Gratiot; LENAWEE: L. Hudson; LUCE: Round (North Manistique) L.; OTSEGO: Big Bear L.; SCHOOLCRAFT: Grassy and McKeever Lks.; ST. JOSEPH: Long L. (Fabius Twp. T6S, R12W, S7); VAN BUREN: Bankson and Round Lks. (Keeler Twp. T4S, R16W, S31)
Waters Closed To Muskellunge Spearing
It shall be unlawful to fish by any other means other than hook-and-line for muskellunge in the following waters: L. Erie, L. St. Clair, Detroit R., and St. Clair R.
Waters with Spearing and Gaff Hook Restrictions
It shall be unlawful to take or attempt to take any species of fish with spearing gear or gaff hook from Apr. 1 – Jun. 15 from the following waters of CHEBOYGAN County: Black R., Cheboygan R., and Indian R.