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Archive for Sunday, May 30, 1999

KANSAS NORTHERN PIKE

May 30, 1999

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Pratt -- Northern pike are familiar to anglers who fish the northern United States and Canada.

Many Kansas anglers have never seen a pike, but when they do, it's usually an unforgettable experience.

Northerns grow large, are aggressive fighters and sport an impressive array of sharp teeth. They strike at a variety of live bait and lures and are easiest to catch in the cool waters of spring and fall.

Northern pike were originally stocked at several Kansas impoundments during the late 1960s and 1970s to provide another large sportfish that could also help control populations of shad and roughfish.

Stockings were made at Glen Elder and Council Grove reservoirs, along with Clark and Butler state fishing lakes. Although the pike grew rapidly, they were unable to establish vigorous breeding populations at most locations.

It was decided not to continue the stockings on a put-and-take basis. Because of this, only an occasional pike is now caught at these impoundments.

However, one small Kansas lake currently provides good fishing for this species due to a recent rehabilitation and stocking effort.

Kingman State Fishing Lake is a clear, weedy impoundment where 1,700 northern pike fingerlings were stocked in 1996 to help control carp and other rough fish. The pike have grown quickly, and many now exceed the statewide 30-inch length limit.

Some of the largest are 36 inches long, weighing 10 pounds.

The weedy habitat of Kingman SFL is somewhat unique to Kansas and offers a cover type that northern pike prefer. The fish are tasty, but they possess a row of Y-shaped bones that are difficult to remove in cleaning.

As such, they are not rated highly as a food fish and many anglers choose to release them after an exciting fight.

Fisheries biologists will monitor this fishery to see if northerns will, in fact, reproduce there.

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