Everyone dreams of that big northern pike that comes into the boat after a long fight. The line holds, the favorite new fishing lure has a few new marks or scars on it from all those teeth, and one successful netting job later the beast is in the boat. But is that northern pike big enough to mount on the wall?
While many pike angler starts out with this dream, many of us quickly work through the bite-offs and understand that catching a trophy sized northern pike
The general consensus among experienced pike anglers is that 40 inches in length is the unofficial rule of thumb for the starting length at which point it’s appropriate to look at mounting a northern pike. Factors like location or thickness can affect that number a few inches each way.
But who wouldn’t want an amazing northern pike mount on the wall?
Especially if it looks as good as this one here.
What Is a Trophy Sized Northern Pike?
This is actually going to vary a bit based on location. However, once you’ve reached 40 inches that is a very good sized fish that makes for a nice wall mount and is the size where most people aren’t going to fault you if you decide that’s the one that you want to see on the wall.
However pike are a fish that can vary in size. While 40 inches is considered a good length, 20 pounds is usually the weight where these fish start being considered trophy sized.
Why is there a conflict here?
Because I’ve seen skinny beanpole pike that were 36 or 38 inches long, and I’ve seen fat thick pike that were 6 inches shorter but far more impressive with a big belly and thicker neck/head area.
So which was better? On paper the long one but in person you’d point to the thick ugly pike and say that one would look way better on the wall.
That means when it comes to figuring out what a trophy sized pike actually is, there’s a combination of length, weight and appearance that comes into play. Some pike make for a better taxidermy mount than others!
In some states a 20 lb northern pike might be huge. In most areas that’s a decent sized fish…but they definitely get bigger and better.
The difference between a 20 lb pike and a 30 lb pike in the overall look and width of the fish is very easy to spot.
What Do the Professionals Think?
If you’re looking at the various top notch fish mounts and taxidermist specialists around the country, the range of fish they have replicas or fish mounts for is a very wide range. For one example, Coast to Coast has pike as small as 10″ and they go all the way up to 52″ in size.
The pros at New Wave talk about northern pike hitting 50″ or 55″ in size, and they have the ability to look at fish that size and even take free quotes.
After calling several professionals who specialize in freshwater fish mounts, it does seem like that 30 inch plus seem to bring the best results with 40 inches plus being around the length where most anglers seem to really decide the fish is big enough to send in for a mount or replica.
While this isn’t a hard and fast rule, and it’s possible that other professionals might have a more set idea in mind.
But at the end of the day the variety available shows that it is really up to the anglers and what they consider to be wall-worthy sized northern pike. If the angler things the fish is a big enough catch to look good on the wall, then the fish is big enough to look good on the wall.
What Is a Good Size Northern Pike?
The question of “What is a good size northern pike?” depends on whether you’re looking for something to eat, take a stab at a state record, or looking for that impressive addition to a study, man cave, or other room that is just screaming for some outdoor wall decoration.
In our case we’re going to talk all about the size you want to see before you’re willing to pay for a mount or a replica. After all, if you do a lot of pike fishing, you know just how delicious pike tastes. So every sized pike is good for eating.
For earning a place on the wall…well that requires a lot of extra length and size, doesn’t it?
Where Is 40 Inches Not Enough?
Generally this would be in locations that are stock full of truly giant northern pike. When you’re looking at some of the loaded lakes in Ontario, or northern Minnesota boundary waters, maybe you move the bar to 42 inches. Or 43. Or only 40 inchers that also have a chonky belly.
Then again I fully understand if the long time pike angler with a personal best of 29 inches doesn’t care if it’s a skinny 39.5, that’s going on the wall.
I understand that thinking perfectly well! Sometimes you just gotta break the chain and treat yourself.
Eating Vs. Keeping as Trophy
Depending on where you are there will be catch and release rules for pike of certain sizes. Always make sure that you are following all the local rules and regulations.
Beyond that as long as the fish is legal to keep, it’s worth nothing that with how good cameras are nowadays, multiple pictures of a large-ish pike from all angles can be enough for a very convincing replica. At which point a pike angler can have the best of both worlds!
The pictures to get a replica of a fish they are proud to have caught and want to brag about, as well as a fish they can clean and cook on the fire for some seriously good eating!
That’s a win-win situation all the way around. It’s no longer either/or!
Master Angler Northern Pike
There are a lot of questions about how big a northern pike has to be in order to get into the Master Angler program. The answer, unfortunately, is it depends. Which Master Angler program are you talking about?
There are many different ones that vary from state to state or are put forward by a fishing organization. A northern pike that might get you a Master Angler acknowledgement by the state of Iowa might not even be a blip in neighboring Minnesota.
So the right size to qualify for Master Angler status for pike fishing varies from location to location. Check with your local state’s DNR, or equivalent agency, to get more information.
And then go for it!
Happy pike fishing as you find yet another reason to go after those big pike!
Best Pike Sizes for Mounting – In Conclusion
At the end of the day if it’s a fish that’s special to you or that is large enough, fat enough, or just plain mean looking enough that you think it deserves a place on the wall, then don’t let someone else’s snarky comments stop you.
While generally the lowest size seems to be around 40 inches in length for most people, if your seven year old is falling in love with fishing and brings in a 36 incher then maybe that’s a great birthday surprise.
Keep on putting the lures out in the water, keep on chasing those big ones, and try not to cuss too loudly in front of the kids when you get that big, big one that inhaled the entire leader before biting the line off (twice in my life to date, in a lake we know has pike flirting with the 40 lb range).
One of these days you’ll bring in that giant once in a lifetime northern pike that obviously belongs on that wall. When that time comes smile, enjoy, and find a quality specialist who has worked with northern pike before so you end up with the quality mount that you deserve.
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