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Was there ever a Blue Pike? You Decide! NEW!
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Grandfather owned Repps Marine In Silver Creek NY in the 1950's
and 1960's. we made our living renting boats to Blue Pike Fisherman. My
grandfather successfully sued the Village of Silver Creek to stop them
from polluting the Lake in 1962. At that time Lake Erie had become a
virtual cesspool. The Blue Pike disappeared right about this time. Was
that a coincidence?
|15 yrs ago I was in the pas in Manitoba on Clear Lake, Victory
Lodge, and clear lake was to rough to fish so the owner told me to go
into town to fish off the shore of the Saskatchewan river where it met a
small orange colored river or creek called the Carrot. The owner at
Victory was just trying to get rid of me but the turned out to be very
I was fishing with minnows off the shore line when I thought I had a snag, likely in 5 ft of water. I slowly started fighting, pulling, with mid action rod and reel. It was odd because it was super heavy, and little action but it got better as the fish approached shore and shallow water. I could see it was very large and it appeared to be a walleye. I stepped in the water as I got it close. I had no net but only a large cooler. I grabbed it with one hand and, dumped the beer, and eased the walleye into the cooler with head sticking out one end and tail out the other. I got my scale out 11.2 pounds, took a photo and put the egg producing machine back in the lake easy.
I was pumped to say the least, and beer never tasted so good. 10 minutes later, I hooked in to something much smaller, way less heavy but way more action. It was a pike but but it looked like a Muskie a bit and it was mostly an amazing deep blue color with silver back-lay. It was only two and a half pounds but it was one of most beautiful colored fish I ever seen it was coloring like a tropical species. I now know what it was thanks to your page. Fish well my friend.
|I have always thought Yellow Pike tasted great. As a boy the "Old
Timers" would tell me Blue Pike was so much better that they treated the
Yellow as a nuisance fish and would throw them back. Now in my mind,
that would have made the Blue Pike the greatest tasting fish on the
Simply put: You older guys ate them all! LOL
|I think one major factor which eradicated the Blue Pike from Erie
was the use of gillnets. They weren't even necessary the target but fell
victim. Now they can only use gillnets in Canadian water but the laws
were changed too late.
Noah C. H
|Hi, about 15 years ago an article appeared in the Cleveland Plain
Dealer. it documented a an unusual tale a frozen blue pike. a man, I
believe in a Cleveland suburb, was defrosting his fridge for the the
firs time in forty years (really!) . in it he found a blue pike he had
caught in 1962. he recounted the story about this fish. He was fishing
Lake Erie and caught this fish, which only four years earlier had
abounded in the lake. He knew that the population was on the way to
possible extinction. so, when he got home he threw into the back of the
freezer section of his refrigerator. He forgot about it and, over time,
it became embedded in ice. and there it remained for 32 years! He called
the USFWS or some other university or agency. eventually the fish was
sent out to see if some DNA could be extracted to compare with similar
species in some Canadian lakes, and perhaps some other Lake Erie fish.
that's the last I heard of this. so, does anyone know what happened to
this fish and the DNA testing.
Sandy (Sanford) Lamovsky
|Hi, I caught a walleye in the North Saskatchewan River in 1981 that
I believed to be ill or diseased. It looked healthy but it had a dark
blue (almost black) back and silver sides. Unlike the stories I've read
online about Blue Walleye, the blue color did not come off the fish.
Further, there was no motled color on the sides. What I mean is that a
Yellow Walleye has that green and yellow-gold blend on the sides. Mine
had uniform silver sides. The fish I caught was 25 inches long and
weighed 8lbs 6oz. I took the fish to the local taxidermist in Nipawin
who was intrigued by the coloration. He asked if I wanted it painted
like that. I responded that I wanted it painted as a regular (Yellow)
walleye. I had no idea that there was another species of Walleye.
Tragically, I lost the fish mount in a fire. I have pictures of the
finished mounted fish but have been unable to locate the one picture
taken of it shortly after I caught it laying in our bathtub. You may
want to investigate Tobin Lake, Saskatchewan and the Norh Saskatchewan
River around Nipawin to see if fish of similar coloration are still
being caught. If I find the picture of the Walleye in our bath tub, I'll
scan it and send you a copy.
Note: This email was sent to Mr. Bouvier; Rod, Thank You for your assessment. Sorry about the way you lost the mounting of the fish. I have a feeling that the fish you caught could have been a "blue phase" of the walleye. Somewhere in these writings several of us caught walleye similar to what you described [dark blue back w/ silver sides] in Lake Nipissing Ontario and they were 5 pounds and up. At the time we were told by the Natives up there they were a walleye that migrated from the south side of the lake [South Bay] and from the rivers from there to the north side [Sturgeon Falls area] where we caught them.
The biggest thing you said, your fish was 8 1/2 pounds. Records indicate Blues never got that big. A BIG blue might have gone 4 pounds. [1 1/2 to 2 pounds were the norm. 2 1/2# were good too.
If you ever find that picture, send it we can all share in it.
|WAS THERE EVER A BLUE PIKE? by
NOTE: This story was received in our email for submission to our Blue Pike section on our website by Jim Drozdowski. Mr. Drozdowski's article got lost in the shuffle but it is very good and worthy of recognition on Outdoors Niagara
It was the winter of '43-'44 and a couple older men took me out on the ice of Lake Erie to fish for Blue Pike. We went out on the ice on our old pickup truck. It was equipped with tire chains and 16 foot planks to travel over cracks in the ice if they opened up. We set up our windbreaker which was a long sheet of muslin mounted on maple poles frozen into the ice. In about 55 feet of water we set out our tip-ups in holes we chopped with a spud chisel. The tip-ups were not the automatic flag type but a wooden stick which we wound up the chalk line on and it had a longer end where we would half hitch the line to hold our spreader with minnows just off the bottom. It had a dowel stuck through the handle which would balance the handle just above the hole. When the tip-up went up or down there was an active fish there.
We had a good day on Saturday and we went out again on Sunday. The older men yelled at me for pulling up a line which had only one fish on it. Wait 'till you get two fish so you don't waste your effort was their method of efficiency. On Sunday we got home and counted up our catch, two days of fishing and we had 997 blues, three fish short of 1,000, a remark that we screwed up. Before some damn do-gooder makes a complaint that we were game hogs, remember there was a war going on and these men were steelworkers working in a steel plant producing all the steel for the war effort. Back then if you didn't show up at work, a soldier with a rifle came to your house to check on your absence. Also with rationing going on, you only got a few "meat stamps" for your family. These fish were placed in a snowbank behind the north side of the house, cleaned and fed to all the people on the street until they were gone. At that time fish were used for food, not amusement as many people use them today.
But yes, there were Blue Pike.
A friend and I had gone to the Lake Gowganda Ontario area of Canada two years ago.
On our last day of an 8 day trip we heard of a remote lake nearby, remote in that it is only accessible by plane or foot. Unfortunately we chose foot to save a few bucks. It took us over an hour of brush crashing and cliff climbing to get there.
When we did we were somewhat disheartened to find a small lake with 2/3 of it shallows and reeds. There was a bluff on one end that had deeper water, so we headed there.
We fished for 20 minutes and then started reeling in these strange blue colored, what we considered, walleyes. At the time I had never heard of blue pike.
Given it was the last day of our trip we did not keep these and released them all.
What do you think?
Tony Robyn, Joplin, MO USA
NOTE: An email was sent back to Tony Robyn explaining his "suspect blue pike" was more of a yellow pike/walleye than anything resembling a blue pike. The interest expressed by Robyn is very much appreciated though. Thanks Tony!
Hello, Hey Mark this is Kris Lindstrom of Manistee MI. I have caught two walleye in the past week that have blue on the peck fins, dorsal and tail. They also have a baby blue on belly and lower jaw. The blue on the fin tips is fairly bright like nothing I have ever seen. The fish bodies are much lighter in color than any fish I have seen in the past. Even the meat has a different feel to it than the normal yellow walleye I've been catching. More slender body with big eyes. I think really think they need a closer look. Here are a few bad pics but I will take great ones on the next catch. The one here is 28".
See photos Kris sent on this page AND Comments from DEC's Mike Wilkinson, Don Einhouse and Carol Stepian, Lake Erie Unit Leader
Reply sent back reply:
Good Morning Kris Thanks for the picture of your "suspect" Blue Pike. I found them very interesting. I will forward these to our NYS Region 9 Chief Biologist for his input. I'm sure he will follow up or at least give an opinion even though the fish has been ruled extinct by the U.S. Fish and Willife Service a few years ago. There is always that chance. Did you keep the fish in the freezer or did you keep any of it's meat? I ask just in case maybe a DNA sample is needed to compare with a yellow pike. Coloration can fool you as some have turned up to be a "blue phase of the yellow pike" One thing that throws me is the 28" size. It was uncommon for blues to be that large. I will put your pictures with proper credit to you on my website and invite comments. Many Thanks again Kris and I'll keep in touch. Mark
|Received September 4 2007 from Sherri
My name is Sherri, and I am nearly a Geologist. My boyfriend and I live in Northern Ontario (4 hours north of Toronto, ON), and are both avid fishermen. We fish regularly, in all seasons, mostly, within a 200 km radius of our home.
Recently, we were fishing like usual, when he caught something unusual.....basically, looked like a pickerel (walleye), but had a blue colour. Also, it sort of seemed to have black patches, not really prominent, but certainly visible. Another note about this fish, it was a fighter, and my boyfriend, at one point thought he was fighting a bass. When he landed it, and I grabbed it, we were shocked to see what he'd caught. This fish wasn't huge by any means, and not a keeper, but, the colour was pretty recognizable, and peculiar. Until he spoke about the catch at work, we were convinced that this small pickerel must have had some strange disease or something. However, after mentioning what we had seen to some fishermen co-workers, we began searching the web for pictures of this, so-called, "blue pickerel", or what they told him was also known as a "blue sauger". Oddly enough, we live in Sudbury, ON (northern Ontario) and were fishing only an hour from here. While researching for pictures, or something to compare the images in our mind with, I came across this article (scientists seek true-blue blue pike, by Mike Vogel) along with a link to this email address. We realize now, after reading and viewing descriptions of this "blue pickerel", that we have indeed sighted the elusive "blue pickerel" near Sudbury, ON.
I realize the date of this article is rather far off in the past, but thought our discovery could be of interest to you. And, just to let you know, I am kicking myself for having a camera, and NOT taking a picture, of what I misinterpreted to be a diseased, and odd-coloured pickerel.
Dear Mark, Very interesting story. I was raised in Niagara County in the 40's & 50's and was exposed to some of the greatest times of my life, fishing for blue pike @ the one mile marker in the lower Niagara River. (Out of Youngstown, NY) Everything you say appears to be true and right on the number, except, that in the 50's our NYS DEC was pleaded with to start programs to raise young fingerlings @ Dunkirk and other state hatcheries with no avail. From what I was hearing was that the State wanted to use the money for building up the State Parks and Whitetail Deer population instead. They had plenty of time to do something with the diminishing blue pike population at that time, but, would only continue with the lamprey eel problem. Which incidentally, they claimed was the blue pikes main problem. If someone could start raising blue pike fingerlings again and stocking the Niagara River with millions of them every year, we could have the most wonderful rejuvenation of a dead Western New York that ever could be imagined.
Thanks for the interesting article, And -
Mr. Krizan sent some new very interesting
observations. Thanks Mr. Krizan
|Received January 28 2007
From Will Martin and Clifford E. Martin ~
In June of 2002 I was fishing with my son in-law and his brother at Kississing Lake in Northern Manitoba just across the border of Alberta.
We were in the mouth of a river that was producing large Walleyes for most of the day, on ending the day I caught a Pike, 23" in length, and was unable to identify it on site because I had not seen one before. Definitely an iridescent blue color My son in-law had read about the Blue Pike and commented it was a million to one to catch one, we all agreed that it must be as we all had not seen one before.
No camera was present, so we did not capture a shot of it, it was returned to the water for a future catch for someone.
Hello, to all. My name is Vince Desborough and I too came across your Opinion Page and was impressed.
I was intrigued to read all of the different personal accounts and thoughtful personal opinions on the famed "Blue Pike".
In keeping with the spirit, I too have a "Blue Pike" story of my own. This story is true and I will try to recount it as accurately as I can in short.
I grew up in Amherst, NY and at the age of 10 (in 1973), my Dad had a bright idea about resurrecting the glory days he had growing up in the late 40's and 50's fishing as a kid on Lake Erie and the Niagara River. Without much prodding from my sister and I, he drove over to a large old garage he had always rented, and stored in the rafters there was his old fishing boat that he had as a teenager, which he stored there since before he married my Mom. It was a 1956 Crestliner - 12' aluminum covered boat, steering wheel, dual bench seats made of white oak, along with a cool oak front & rear dash, and white oak transom also. It also had factory paint too! - Light blue deck paint inside, and red bottom paint just to the waterline. The rest was a pretty shiny aluminum. It didn't take long before we had it ready to go with a revitalized old 25hp Evinrude and new trailer.
As a 10 yr old I was pumped!
We spent a lot of time over the next 7 years fishing on Lake Erie, trolling up & down along all of the break walls off Erie Basin Marina (sometimes on summer nights till 3am), and in many parts of the Niagara River; sometimes 3 times a week, from May-Nov. It was a cool time, and we did catch a lot of yellows. One time specifically in 1975 though, when I was 12, we were fishing along the break walls of Lake Erie, and we only caught 2 fish that night, both we thought were Yellow Pike or "Yellows" as we called them. The one I caught was small, slender, about 12in. or so tops. The other one my Dad caught was significantly larger, over 20in. or so.
When we got home, we looked at them in the light, and the small one that I caught was really, really, blue, and the other was the usual yellowish-color "Yellow" that we caught all the time. My Dad said that it was a Blue Pike for sure, as he explained that he hadn't seen one since he was a kid. He was visibly upset & that's all he talked about for months after that was that blue pike.
It being really blue-colored, I really believed him, and he said that if he had known it was a blue, he would have made me throw it back. I also remember that night lining up both fish side-by-side, and remembering how different they were; I think the blue definitely had slightly bigger eyes too. Since it was different, I recall our whole family the next day sampling the difference of the tasty meat between the two. Yes, no doubt it was a blue (or blue-variant), and I caught one in the fall of 1975.
We mostly used short, deep diver plugs then, and the more line you let out the deeper you'd go. Each of us would use different depths, however since my Dad was always driving, he usually had the shallow setting & me the deep/long one.
Well, that's all I got to my "Blue Pike" story. Is there hope of someone finding one again? Sure there is, the waters are still vast, just like our fishing stories! If anyone has any other stories, please contribute!
Thanks & Happy 2007, - Vince Desborough.
It seems impossible that an entire species of fish is completely gone. The lakes are huge and it seems more probable to me that some survived. How can we say that no blue pike are in any body of water connected to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. We can't. I can picture in my mind The devastation of most of the fish...but not all. Tributaries, creeks, live wells, tanker bilges, eggs sticking to boat trailers. All of the ways we worry about the expansion of gobies are also possibilities for the survival of and the possible future expansion of the blue pike.
When did we use Lamprieside to get rid of the lampreys? Was it the same time the Blue Pike disappeared? Even with a concentrated effort some lampreys still plague our waters. It's hard to get rid of an entire species completely. My son says we got rid of the lampreys after the reported extinction of the blue pike.
If every angler fishing the lake had a picture of the blue pike we would have another check on the reported extinction. What if people are catching blue pike and don't know it. I like the idea of the blue pike but I don't think I could identify one if I caught it. And If I did catch one what would I do. We the people who would like to restore this fish lack a plan, a leader, and the necessary information to help. I would gladly end a day at the lake to rush my live blue pike to...where.
I fished out Grand River Ohio from 1938 to 42 on several commercial fishing boats. My take on the disappearance of blue pike related to the appearance of large numbers of smelt in Lake Erie at that time. After they became prominent, the blue fish were gone. I believe the smelt ate the eggs of the blue pike. Has that possibility been explored? I would like to hear from you on this matter.
Howard Binnig- Florida.
Hello all, my name is Ellie Scott and I stumbled upon your website while researching blue pike. I work for the USGS Northern Appalachian Research Lab in Wellsboro, PA. One of our summer projects is researching blue pike and possibly trying to obtain specimens from Canada to further our research. Thanks for all the great information, stories, and pictures. I will keep you posted on our findings.
Sincerely, Ellie Scott
I was a kid in the 30's, my uncle used to take me fishing
on Lake Erie, at night, with live minnows and lights near Silver
Comments: Blue Pike:
It is unfortunate that fish biologists did not record their findings or log the differences between the blue pike and the yellow pike when the blues were still plentiful. I can vaguely remember people still catching "some" blues in 57' &58'. There has been much controversy on this subject for decades. Some old timers insist that the decline of the "Canadian sailor mayfly" & the decline of smelt caused the demise of the blue pike along with pollution. In our area, close to Erie, pa. many old enough to remember say that the last few catches of blue bike resulted in bigger specimens of them, almost giving credence to the fact that the smaller blue pike were not surviving very well. I remember going out fishing & catching some yellow's that had a blue/gray coloration in the late seventies in lake Erie. I also remember catching yellow's in pymatuning reservoir that were more gray/ blue than yellow. There seemed to be two different ways of fishing for these fish. If one wanted yellow pike, they trolled with plugs or a nightcrawler harness. If one fished for blue pike, you went out roughly a mile or two and anchored & used minnows to get these tasty fish, about the same method one would use for yellow perch today. Lake Erie is so vast, who can truly say the blue pike are gone forever? If nature can find a way, it usually does. To say that every blue pike is gone may be an overstatement, no doubt serious ecological harm was done to such a point that if any blue pike stocks are out there, they may never recover enough to justify any exploitation of them either sportfishing or commercially. About 10 years ago the "Canadian sailors" have returned to our area, as well as an increase in smelt populations. Zebra muscles have been a concern the way they have infested our watershed; although they contribute to much clearer water now. Nobody is sure if this is detrimental yet in the long term to our native species. One would think that the many fish commissions involved "could" capture a breeding pair of blue pike from lake erie, that is "if" any exhist anymore? It could very well be that whatever true blue pike were left interbred with the yellow pike, this could explain "why" no real suspect blue pike have been confirmed! If they were able to bring the blue pike back it would be a miracle as to what man can do when working for a common goal.
Comments: I am just learning about the blue walleye and am
extremely interested in this elusive fish however I feel that the suspected blue
walleye that have being caught is just a pigment disease I am a avid fisherman
in Saskatchewan and I remember fishing a stocked pond about 5 years ago where
about 80% of the perch were a pale gray blue coulor and had almost no yellow
color what so ever. I hope I am wrong and will some day be able to add the blue
walleye to my hunting list along with their cousins the yellow walleye, saugar,
saugeye,and the zander
Address: North Regina
Hello, I read your article and I loved it. But I honestly
think that the fish never went extinct and that they have been alive all the
time. I say that no matter what anyone else says, a species is never totally
extinct. There is no way anyone can say that a fish is extinct because the
underwater environment is so secretive that you could be staring at a so-called
'extinct' fish and not even know it. Even the 'Experts' aren't always right.
Take a look at the (Latimeria chalumnae) or known as the Coelacanth, Scientists
thought that it had been extinct 50 million years ago and just at the middle of
the 20th century we discovered that they had been hiding in the volcanic
structures around the south African shores. So never say a species is extinct.
Hi, my name is Mindy Kxxxxx
and I am a junior at West Bend West High school.
I am currently enrolled in
the AP Biology class taught by Paul DeC. We
are doing a joint lab with the advanced chemistry class to try to discover why
the blue walleye is blue. I was
interested in your page about DNA. My
group is trying to electrophoresis the mucus of the yellow and blue walleye.
We centrifuged the yellow
walleye mucus and the blue walleye mucus. Then,
we put the top layer of the centrifuged mucus onto the plate and the bottom
layer of the centrifuged mucus on the plate as well.
We are still waiting on the results because our plates have not turned
out yet. I have some more ideas as
to why there is a blue and yellow walleye.
Please email me back and I'd love to discuss my thoughts with you.
Thank you, Mindy Kxxxxxxx
“ Growing up in the fifties and hearing blue pike being brought home by the bushel, I looked forward to fishing for them. Unfortunately by the sixties they were gone. Hope to see them back.”
My feelings on the
disappearance of the blue pike is that they were exterminated by the smelt. An
old commercial fisherman told me that he was fishing for whitefish in Lake Erie
and the smelt came on so strong his nets became fouled with thousands of smelt.
The smelt became so numerous at that time because they were a foreign invader
and there was no way to control them. They fed on the small fish like emerald
shiners and fry from the many species that occupied the cold waters for the
summer. The extreme numbers of smelt consumed all the small fish that occupied
there cold environment resulting in a lack of recruitment of fish classes for
future years. I can remember getting hundreds of blues at night in our 16 foot
boat, then the next year getting fewer, then the next year getting still fewer
but larger ones and then getting none. Occasionally we heard of a super large
blue pike being caught as the remnants of the species died off and then none
were reported. Ice fishing results during the smelt period would cause you to
get your bait to the bottom as fast as you can because the smelt would take your
bait as soon as it hit the water. I would like to say that man's fishing,
neither angling or commercial fishing exterminated the blue pike. You can reach
a point where the effort involved does not result in good results and your
fishing effort ceases.
in the early 60's the Canadians started trawling for smelt and exporting them to
Asian markets. That seemed to return the lake to life. Later salmon and trout
were stocked after they reached a survivable size and they became a control on
the smelt. You must remember that not only did the blue pike disappear, but also
the lake trout, white fish, ciscoes and other herrings. I know there are some
that will say pollution killed off the cold water species, but then how did the
Just one more thing I'd like to add is about the disappearance of the mayflies in Lake Erie. They disappeared at the time of the blue pike demise. I lived in Lackawanna, the receiving end of Lake Erie's prevailing winds. In June every year the streets and buildings would be covered with mayflies. Then they were gone. No fishing caused their absence. A Dr. Sweeney of the Great Lakes Lab in Buffalo claimed the pollution of the lake caused low oxygen levels and thus their ending. But how did the smelt survive? They couldn't live in the low oxygen levels either. I believe the smelt feasted on the mayfly larvae and they disappeared due to the predation of the uncontrolled smelt biomass.
Jim Drozxxxx Sr.
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