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Small Northerns.


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Should a guy keep these 20-24" norhterns for the lakes that have to many (WBL and others) or put them back? I'd like to see them grow big but don't know if these fish and metro waters are capable of that now. So what sould a guy do, cull them out or put them back?

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Research says that Northerns grow really fast up to about 24" and then slow down dramatically. If there are lots of smaller Northerns I say yes (I think they're great eating once you learn to get the Y bones out). 20" Northerns are awful tough to filet boneless, but taste great! I try to release any over 26" or so because BIG Northerns are such an abused resource and so much fun to catch. If you catch a big one, PUT IT BACK! cool.gif

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Fishing Guy....If you put the 20-24 inchers back, they help keep the little panfish in check and in turn, they probably are "Good Eatin" for the Muskies and larger pike.

Those little snakes are so bony it is like trying to eat a broom, if you don't know how to fillet boneless. If you do fillet boneless, you don't get a whole lot off one that size.

I'd say let them go, but then thats just me...it's hard for me to pry my hands off and let go of a 12' Crappie! So whose to say, personal choice.

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I have heard on many lakes that they actually want you to keep every northern in that size range to help out with the small size average of northerns. And I know there wont be any mad people taking a legal small northern out of overpopulated lakes.

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If there is a lake with many of the smaller northerns, you're panfish populations will suffer. The bigger ones (24"+) are what keep a good balance in the lake, the little ones are purely feeding machines.

Our hunting shack is on a lake with tons of those 'hammer handles'. It seems every other one has a panfish in its belly so I don't feel too bad keeping them and pickling them. Yep, it takes a few to make a batch but good riddance and bring on the slabs!

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FYI... a metro lake with alot of small to medium sized pike is Minnewashta....

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Minnewashta doesnt have a problem population of northerns.

If anyone here feels that having some pickled northern once in a while would help out the fishery.. knock yourself out.. If you have a good recipe..pass a jar this way and I will help you.

Other than that.. there is no point in killing a fish if your not going to eat it. I know of a few lakes in this state so overpopulated with northerns that they have become the dominant preditor, AND the main forage fish in the lake.. these lakes also have very good size panfish in them in fair numbers.

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Absolutely. I actually like the taste of northern, so it's what I end up eating the two-three tims per year I keep fish in the metro since I'm too stoopid to catch walleye! I also like the fight, so I end up targeting them quite a bit, & my favorite lakes have a large supply of snakes.

I'd agree with the comment above though, anything over 24" I throw back unless it's plainly a goner. In the metro, I consider anything 30" & over a big northern!

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I actually prefer Norts for eating -I like the firmer texture and they grill better (butter and Greek seasoning are my fave) and one "small" northern will feed two people no prob. I hate bones in fish more than most people and I still target Norts when I'm lookin' for a meal. Just take your time cutting out the y bones.

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My familly and I were recently on a lake with a 24"-32" slot limit for Northerns, so we release all the 26" Northerns we caught. I find that a 21"-24" Northern fillets well and that you get a decent fillet out of them. Under 21" and you really end up doing a butcher job trying to get the pin bones and y bone out. For the smaller Northerns that we kept we cut off the heads and removed the guts without splitting the belly open. Then we scrubed the outside with kosher salt and peper to remove most of the scales and dry off the skin. The inside we stuffed with fresh basil, garlic, a bit of olive oil, and some dried chilli. We threw the whole fish on the grill and cooked until done; basically the fish steams in it's skin. Afterwards we flaked the meat off of the bones and used the flakes in a salad - tastes great, good yield, and no bones.

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Lee, when we're up in Canada or the BWCA, that's what we refer to as a "dinner fish" grin.gif

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Steve -

It is too bad I personally can't stand the taste or texture of any fish or seafood for that matter, trust me I've tried a lot, cause that recipe of yours sounds quite tempting.

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The preparation is Thai the stuffing is pseudo Italian. The Thai's would stuff with Dill or Hot Basil and some Chilli's (uncut so you don't mistake them). Using the olive oil and Basil is more of an Italian influence. Scrubbing real good with coarse salt is the key as you end up getting a nice crusty skin that acts like aluminum foil. Of course cooking the whole fish and then forking gives you better yield. The Thai's don't like to waste fish (wife's Thai)

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When I keep fish, 20-24 inch pike is the best it gets, that and crappies and bluegills. Walleyes, blah! If you learn how to correctly filet them (don't have to remove the y's post fileting)they are great. I release all the fish that are bigger than that. That's also what the DNR regs that have been put on a lot of lakes are, can't keep over 24 inches. I like the reg, think it will help.

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I have a question for you guys. I don't want to start a debate or a p!ssing match, but when you pickle northerns and they are in the jar, do they count towards your possesion limit. I don't pickle northerns nor do I eat any sort of pickled fish, so I guess it doesn't really matter to me. But I was just curious if any one knew the law on that.

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This quote came from the DNR website which pretty much says what everyone else is saying.

"Anglers can improve fisheries by selectively harvesting smaller pike (24 inches or less) and releasing larger pike and bass."

~Josh

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Thats kind of what I was thinking. Thanks guys.

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My wifes family has vacationed at Winnie for 30 years and they have said the average size northern they catch has gone way down especially in the last 5-10 years. We were up at Winnie over the 4th and the resort owner was told by the DNR that the problem has been recognized and that the resort owner has been instructed too encourage people too keep the 20-22" fish. I guess the lake is just too overun with fish that size. We catch em like crazy that size every year and you would think they would sooner or later get bigger but it just doesnt seem too be happening. It is something about a lake only has a certain holding size capacity for certain species. So in this case northerns, if you have a lake over run with hammer handles it doesnt leave enough room for better size fish. If you cull some of those smaller fish it creates room for more bigger fish? That is kind of how the resort owner explained it. So when we go back up in 3 weeks, that is the size northerns we will be keeping, hoping we will be doing our part too improve the fishery.

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I really enjoy the taste of Pike, too. I love the fight they put up and have no problems keeping them in the 20" - 26" range. Filleting them isn't *too* bad... and the suggestion that one member had for grilling them in their own skin sounds awesome! I'll have to give that a try sometime!

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I have actually read that if a northern is pickled, it does NOT count toward your possession limit. It is considered a prepared fish.

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personally, I like to keep the 28 to 30 inchers for pickling.

Then find a nice 10 to 15 pounder for deep frying. When you take those bigger fish, cut them into fillets and deep fry them, the "Y" bones pop right out when you break the fillet open, making them easy to eat.

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