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Northern Pike
(Exos lucius)
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Description Regulations Habitat Records

Gamefish in the Chicago Area include:

  • Fishing for these requires a trout stamp in addition to your fishing license.


Northern Pike are not abundant in any stream of the state, but they can be taken from many rivers and lakes in the state (the largest supply seems to be the Rock River). The best time to fish for them is March or early spring when they move to spawn. They spawn in shallow slough areas and this type of situation is presented when the rivers flood each spring, spreading out over fields and marshy areas presenting the Northerns with just what they are looking for. During this spawning activity, Northerns can be taken from the flooded lowlands and later during the year out of the deep holes where they seek the cold water they prefer. They are not particular at what they strike at so long as it's close. Artifical lures and minnows are successful. Once hooked, it tends to be a good fighter.

Please check the fishing advisories for information.


All Northern Pike taken must be at least 24 inches in total length or longer, except in the Missisippi or Ohio River, where there is no length limit. No more than 3 Northern Pike may be taken per day, except where site specific regulations state otherwise. Remember to check site specific regulations. Site specific limits

Habitat, habits and breeding

For much more information on breeding, habits and habitat, you can read the entire U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Suitability Index (HSI) for Northern Pike This link is a scanned photocopy of the actual reports used by your local government to decide what fish to stock in particular locations. The reports are normally printed on heavy stock blue paper (You'll see the paper reflecting in the background of the scans. Warning: This report is nearly 4 meg in size and will require you to have Adobe Acrobat installed to view properly.


Illinois record: 26lb. 15oz,

North American Record: 46lb. 2oz

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