Northern Pike State Fish


Most everyone knows that the wild prairie rose is our state flower and that the state bird is the western meadowlark.  But did you know the northern pike is our state fish?

I recently ran across a copy of North Dakota Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 21 from 1969 which proposed the northern pike be designated the North Dakota State fish.  It reads in part;

“WHERAS, the sport of fishing had greatly increased in popularity in North Dakota and the nation over the years, resulting in increased tourism revenues and adding to the relaxation and enjoyment of man; and

WHEREAS, that species of fish known as Northern Pike has especially gained national recognition and prominence due to the mammoth sizes of such species that the waters of this state have yielded; and

WHEREAS, it is quite possible that a world record Northern Pike will be taken from one of the lakes of North Dakota within the next few years:

Now, Therefore, Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of North Dakota, the House of Representatives Concurring Therein:

That the Northern Pike be officially designated as the State fish of the State of North Dakota.”

I assume this was the resolution that made the northern pike our state fish, although some sources list 1971 as the date when it became official.

The idea that North Dakota would produce the world record Northern Pike might have been a bit of political hyperbole.  The North International Game Fish Association World Record northern pike is 55 pounds 1 ounce, caught in Germany in 1986. The North Dakota state record is 37 pounds 8 ounces (48 inches long) taken from Lake Sakakawea in 1968 by Melvin Slind from Roseglen.  The Minnesota record northern pike is 45 pounds 12 ounces, 60.5 inches long, taken from Basswood Lake.  And those Canadian pike, well, that is the land of big pike!

But the best one I have heard about big northerns comes from Germany.  The famous Mannheim pike was reported to have been caught near the village of Mannheim in 1497, was 18 feet long, and weighted a whopping 325 pounds.  A ring on one of the gills was engraved by Emperor Fredrik II and stated that he had released the fish into the water in the year 1230.  Its skeleton was even said to have hung on display in the Mannheim cathedral.   No doubt this is true.  Wink-nod!  Perhaps like you, I have never heard an angler stretch the truth when it comes to big fish.

Learn more here!

Chuck Lura

Natural North Dakota is supported by NDSU Central Grasslands Research Extension Center and Minot State University-Bottineau, and by the members of Prairie Public. Thanks to Sunny 101.9 in Bottineau for their recording services.

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