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Northern Pike - A Few Words About Cleaning and Preperation

image of young boy holding small pike It’s no secret that medium to small size Northern Pike have become over-abundant in Northern Minnesota.

It's hard to imagine how fishing pressure could ever reduce the population of small pike significantly. But Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources reports that these smaller fish are so abundant, that they want to give anglers an opportunity to try.

Yes, that’s right; harvesting more of these small pike will become the focus of an effort by Minnesota’s DNR, along with other conservation agencies. Beginning in 2018, new regulations will expand the limits on pike, encouraging anglers to harvest small pike on a much larger scale.

That’s good news for folks who really enjoy eating fish and want to have some fun gathering a bunch of nice fillets for the table. Bring the kids and begin utilizing more of these great tasting and hard fighting fish.

If you haven’t learned already, removing the Y-Bones is a lot easier than you think and the more practice you get, the better you’re gonna like eating pike.

Don't be fooled by the nay-sayers, folks that don't want to fool around with Northern Pike! Lots of us know better, there are dozens of mouth-watering ways there are to prepare these delicious fish. In fact, for many recipes, the Northern Pike is the best possible choice. Their firm flesh works perfectly for recipes that just wouldn't work for more delicate fillets.

There are only a few key things to remember when you're planning to fix a meal using the Northern Pike. 

image of pike ready for cleaning Clean and de-bone the fish while it is still fresh. The quality and flavor of the fillets will be greatly enhanced. Don't let your fish sit in the live well or ice chest any longer than necessary. Clean the fish immediately you get off the lake. 

Likewise, use Pike when they are fresh. Pike are not well suited for freezing and won't hold their freshness as well as some of the other popular eating fish. You can freeze them for short periods, but we do our best to consume our supplies of pike fast, before we begin eating other fish that we may store in the freezer.

When freezing some of the fish becomes necessary, we always try to eliminate air in the packages. We freeze them in water using a zip-lock plastic bag, but vacuum sealers are great if you have one.

The recipe section includes some of my favorite ways to prepare Northern Pike for the table. Each one of these recipes has been "Guide Proven" on fishing trips with my customers and has the official "Early Bird" seal of approval so enjoy!

Jeff Sundin is a full time fishing guide, outdoor writer, photographer and developer of custom web content. Sundin currently serves as a volunteer on the Panfish Workgroup, an advisory committee of the Minnesota DNR. Learn about guided fishing trips and more, click here "About Jeff Sundin".

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