The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds anglers who might want to keep northern pike when the season opens on May 15 to familiarize themselves with the regulations and be prepared to measure the fish.
“Sometimes anglers who catch northern pike are fishing for other types of fish and aren’t sure what to do with that toothy pike on the line,” said Bethany Bethke, DNR fisheries research scientist. “We want these anglers to be equipped with the knowledge they need to keep a pike if that’s their desire.”
Minnesota has three northern pike zones that apply to inland waters and reflect the differing characteristics of pike populations across the state:
•North-central: Limit of 10 northern pike, but not more than two pike longer than 26 inches; all fish 22 to 26 inches must be released.
•Northeast: Two northern pike; anglers must release all fish 30 to 40 inches, with only one fish over 40 inches allowed in possession.
•South: Two northern pike; minimum size 24 inches.
The DNR implemented the zone regulations in 2018 following extensive public input and comments. In the north-central zone, the northern pike regulations address angler concerns about the over-abundance of small, or hammer-handle, northern pike.
In the southern zone, where reproduction is limited, the regulation is designed to increase pike abundance while also increasing the size of fish harvested. In the northeastern zone, the regulations aim to protect large pike.
“Northern pike can be delicious table fare. We encourage anglers to know the regulations and give a meal of pike a try,” Bethke said. “Northern pike require a little more work while filleting, and anglers can check the DNR website and other online sources for how-to videos on cleaning northern pike.”
Throughout the state, special regulations that cover individual lakes, rivers and streams remain in effect and take precedence over the zone regulations. The northern pike zone regulations do not apply to border waters.
More information about northern pike zones, including a zone map, is available on the DNR’s northern pike page.