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Dock Talk: Prime pike fishing is still around

George Bjorklund of Park Rapids loves to catch northern pike. No matter the size, he enjoys a good battle, even if the fish is released. Anglers looking to catch even larger pike throughout our area have some good opportunities, and trophy destinations aren't far away. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

According to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources press release, "A long-time fish biologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has written a book on the ecology and management of northern pike in Minnesota."

The illustrated 224-page book, "Northern Pike," includes management history, ecology, illustrations, photography, and 25 years of pioneering research conducted by Rodney Pierce, a DNR fisheries research biologist who authored the book.

The book chronicles how management of this game fish and resource has changed, and how geology, water quality and human populations directly impact pike populations. The book also provides new ways of looking at and managing the species.

Pierce's book combines "northern pike natural history, scientific research, historical data and other interesting historical information into a book that will appeal to general readers and recreational anglers," said Pierce.

"We included many photos of historical and recent fisheries management activities, and we interpret the results so readers get a better understanding of why research remains an important piece of fisheries management."

Northern Pike by Rodney Pierce is available for $40 plus postage and handling from the University of Minnesota Press, the DNR gift shop at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul, and from other major booksellers.

Proceeds will come back to the Minnesota DNR and the University of Minnesota Press.

For northern pike enthusiasts or all-around fishing fanatics, this compilation provides insightful information.

Park Rapids area anglers are familiar with good northern pike availability and action, yet the overall size structure on most of our lakes isn't comparable to the old photos from decades past of anglers displaying limits of big northern pike hoisted on stringers or stacked in wheelbarrows like cord-wood.

However, there are a few local lakes that are present day exceptions. Though you may still encounter some of the average sized pike that range from 17-21 inches, the possibility of pike over 30-inches and even reaching the 40-inch class is a reality.

Many of those big fish opportunities are on lakes with experimental regulations that protect certain sized northern, primarily for genetics and spawning.

In Hubbard County the DNR manages approximately 100 lakes, 8 of which have experimental northern pike regulations: Fifth and Sixth Crow Wing, Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Crow Wing, Big Mantrap, Lake George and Blueberry.

Another notable, relatively nearby lake with a release slot for northern pike is Upper Red Lake.

Upper Red Lake's protective pike slot recently changed to 26-44 inches with anglers able to possess a three fish limit with one fish over 44 inches.

When the DNR sampled northern pike on Upper Red Lake in 2011, they found a mixture of year classes and their largest at 44 inches. Anyone who targets pike knows that a 44-incher is a very large fish. Anglers have reported catching northern pike even larger on Upper Red.

Park Rapids Fisheries Supervisor Doug Kingsley comments that there was a statewide push to manage trophy species like northern pike in 2003. After nearly ten years, the DNR will re-evaluate future steps.