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Uncovering the Flavor of Pike: What You Need to Know

With a rich taste and distinct flavor, the Pike is a famous freshwater fish. The Pike can grow to impressive sizes and is famous for its bones. So what does Pike taste like?

Pike has a very mild flavor with firm white meat. Pike’s white meat is texturized and has quite a few bones that make it ideal for recipes that are mousse based or with an element of creaminess.

Pike can be caught ice fishing as well as during the summer. And while pike notoriously doesn’t smell good when caught, it is great to eat.

Pike is a farmed fish, so if no Pike bite, you can find Pike year-round at a good quality fishmonger. 

When preparing your Pike, there are a few things to take into consideration. If you are preparing Pike that has just come off your rod, then you will need to gut and trim the fish. This is an important process in the preparation of Pike.

Are you planning on purchasing your Pike? You will be happy to hear that the Pike you buy will most often already be skinned. 

Although Pike may not be on the top of most culinary lists, it is a classic freshwater fish that rarely gets the credit it deserves. 

Author Note: When Pike are alive, they have a distinctive odor that has probably stopped many people from wanting to eat this fish. So, the Pike’s first impression may not be all that great, but let’s move on. 

What Does Pike Taste Like: Filleting Pike

When you fillet Pike, you should take care not to let the outer skin layers come into physical contact with the fish’s flesh. It is advised to remove the skin before cooking, always. If you want to answer the question “what does pike taste like?” with “delicious!”, follow our filleting instructions.

Northern Pike can give off a pronounced muddy taste if cooked with the skin. No recipe can disguise the taste of a muddy fish, so make sure you remove the skin carefully.

The Pike is a member of the Esocidae family of fish alongside muskellunge. Although often confused with the muskellunge, they are different fish.

The Pike’s skin is a protective layer that often puts people off. But once the slimy skin is carefully removed using a sharp fillet knife, the meat can be cooked and enjoyed just like any other white meat fish. 

When filleting the Northern Pike, here is one technique you could use. It’s very similar to how you fillet a Musky.

Starting at the fish’s tail, make a precise insertion with your knife’s tip on the inside edge of the skin. From there, carefully begin a clean slice all the way to the base of the fish’s head. 

Once the skin is removed, you can begin to prepare your fish fillets.

Cutting Pike Steaks

Northern pike caught

If you want to cut fish steaks, this advice could help you:

Keeping the fish upright, slice from the backbone, making your way along each side of the steak until you reach the end. Using scissors may be better for this step than your fillet knife.

Now, using your trusted fillet knife, you can skin the steaks and discard the skin. Wash the meat in cool water. Never, and we repeat never, let the flesh come into contact with the outside of a Pike’s skin. 

Five-Fillet Method

There is another way to fillet the Pike. This method, known as the five-fillet technique, is one of the most successful methods to filleting Pike successfully. 

The fish’s back gives one strip of meat, two strips along the Y-shaped bones are taken, and another two strips can be harvested from just in front of the tail. 

Top Tip: You should avoid the Pike’s belly. This is because mercury and toxins can gather in the part of the fish with the highest fat content, which just happens to be the belly.

Precautions should also be taken when eating older fish, as they have spent prolonged periods exposed to mercury and toxins. So, avoid eating older Pike and steer clear of the fish’s belly. 

More About Pike

The Pike is a large-sized fish that preys on other fish and is one of the most popular freshwater species that anglers target. 

Here are a few facts about the Pike that you may not know: 

Fast Swimmers

The Northern Pike is a famously fast fish, reaching speeds of up to ten miles per hour. This is a surprising feat if one takes into account their hefty size.

Fishermen who enjoy the hunt are particularly inclined to targeting the Northern Pike. They are ferocious fighters, and fishermen can feel like they are engaging in battle, predator versus predator. 

Physical Appearance

The Pike is an easy fish to identify. With its impressive size, brightening teeth, elongated body, shovel-shaped snout, and eerily bright yellow eyes, the Pike can be identified in a flash.

Their coloring is green on the top with a white belly. The skin is covered in small, slimy scales that have a pungent aroma. Their scales are also accompanied by a layer of mucous, gross but easily removed before eating. 

Camouflage Experts

The Northern Pike is known as an ambush predator. It can camouflage itself and has a tenacity for remaining still for prolonged periods. Due to these talents, the Northern Pike is a stealthy hunter. 

When hunting, the Pike attacks in short, explosive bursts. They are often hungry- their metabolisms are fast, and they are typically known to hunt any food they can find. 

Distinguishing Pike from Muskellunge

Grilled pike

The Muskellunge and the Northern Pike are often confused. Although both in the Pike family, they are separate types of fish. It’s easy to see why these two fish are so often confused.

They share many physical characteristics, but a closer look gives you a definite answer. A muskellunge can be distinguished by the dark markings against a lighter backdrop, while the Northern Pike exhibits the inverse. 

Author Note: The Pike is one of the fisherman’s favorite targets. They are predators with few natural predators themselves and will usually snap at your bait in one quick flash. In most bodies of water where Pike are present, they become one of the water’s top predators.

The Pike doesn’t seem like a shy fish either. They will quite easily feed off other fish that can be as big as half their own size. 

If you want to catch Musky, check out our best Musky bucktails guide

Spawning Season

The Pike’s spawning season will differ according to where they live. For example, the Northern Pike that inhabits the Great Lakes will usually have their spawning season when the ice begins to melt, from April to May. The Pike tend to stick to shallow depths for their mating.

They will choose areas that are protected by vegetation and where the water may be a bit warmer. Once spawned, the baby Pike can become a quick meal. The new Pikes will make a quick and easy snack for older Pikes, minnows, perch, and waterfowl. 

If the new spawn makes it to maturity, they are rewarded by being one of the water’s top predators with little to no natural predators. Most areas lush with Pike are preyed on by only two species – humans and musky.

When the Northern Pike is enjoying the shallow waters, they risk becoming a tasty treat for land animals, including bears. 

Northern Pike: Location

The Northern Pike is one of the most popular Pikes among fishermen. They are commonly found in areas with colder temperatures:

  • Europe
  • Canada
  • Russia
  • Alaska
  • Upper Midwest (US) 
  • Great Plains (US)

Northern Pike: Mercury

Mercury is a common problem in fish. 

In 2013, a group of researchers from the University of Manitoba and the University of Trent studied the Northern Pike. The scientists found that Pike is able to discharge toxic mercury.

The mercury levels, measured in the muscle tissue, may have an initial spike but stabilizes after several years. 

Pike Recipe: Beer Battered Deep Fried Delight

Dried pike caviar

One of the best ways to eat Pike is with a cold beer after a long day fishing. This beer battered Pike recipe is simple and easy to do. 

If you are using fresh fish fillets, this beer batter will give your fillets a light, crisp and delicious coat. 

Serving Size: 4

Total Time: 30 min (25 min for the prep and five quick minutes to cook)


  • First up, you’re going to need your pike fillets. Aim for around one and a half pounds of meat 
  • About a quarter cup of regular white flour
  • For the seasoning, we’re going to keep it simple. You’ll need a teaspoon each of salt and pepper and a pinch of spicy cayenne pepper. 

Here’s what you’ll need for the batter:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp beer
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (dark) 
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 6 cups oil for deep frying 


  • After rinsing your fresh fillet, dab them dry.
  • Slice the fillets in the shape of fish sticks. Aim for at least 1 inch of width and ensure they are not longer than 3 inches. Keep them in the refrigerator until you are ready to fry them. 

Making the Batter

Using a whisk, combine the batter ingredients until it has a smooth consistency. Once you are satisfied that the batter is smooth enough, allow it to rest for about 15 minutes. 

Mix together the flour, pepper, salt, and cayenne. Remove the fish from the refrigerator and dust each piece with the flour and spice dust. Dip the fish into the batter. It should be fully submerged. Give the fish a little shake to remove the excess batter.

Author Note: Carefully place the battered fish pieces into the hot oil. Fry until the color is a deep golden brown. This shouldn’t take longer than 4 minutes. Allow the fish to sit and let the excess oil drain. 

These beer-battered fish sticks are delicious and can be enjoyed as a snack or a full meal with tartar sauce, lemon wedges, and malt vinegar. 

And remember, the best Pike is the freshest Pike. But you know what’s even more rewarding? Chasing after the Pike. Reeling him in, and then sitting back and enjoying it. So, what are you waiting for? Get the best lures for Pike fishing today. 

Fry the Fish

Get your oil ready. 

Combine the flour with salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Lightly dust a fish finger in the flour mixture, immediately submerge it in the batter, shake off the excess, and lower it into the hot oil. Fry each batch for 3 or 4 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a plate and let drain on paper towels.


Serve this classic pike dish with tartar sauce along with fat wedges of lemon or with malt vinegar. We hope you enjoyed this article on what does Pike taste like. If you like the recipes in this guide, be sure to check out our article on what lake trout taste like. And if you want to catch more pike, check out our guide on the best pike lures for summer.

Happy Hunting!


1 thought on “Uncovering the Flavor of Pike: What You Need to Know”

  1. Grant Gibson

    I’ve always been curious about the taste of pike, and this article provided a detailed description. The information about the white and flaky meat along with the mild flavor was spot on. Thanks for sharing this informative article!

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