Forget the Y-bone, pickle northern pike this winter
Few things warm the soul of an ice angler more than seeing a tip-up flag rise toward the sky.
During the early stages of winter, including soon after the ice becomes safe for travel, many anglers in the WTIP listening area target walleye and northern pike. A tip-up, which is a device that allows anglers to suspend bait while not having to hold a rod or reel, is a popular means of catching pike through the ice. When a fish hits the suspended bait, a flag indicator stands up as the mechanized reel is turned while the fish pulls line from the spool.
However tasty a pike caught through the ice on lakes lining the Sawbill, Caribou and Gunflint trails might be, they are still challenging to properly fillet. A series of intermuscular bones known as the “Y-bones” are essentially impossible to remove from pike. However, when it comes to eating pike, there’s one way to keep the Y-bones intact and not butcher the meat: pickling.
Pickling pike is a longstanding tradition in Minnesota. The process involves salting small fish fillets and then soaking them in vinegar, onions, and sugar for about a week.
Cook County residents Justin and Collette Mueller have been pickling pike for several years at their home near Lake Superior. They received a fish pickling recipe from local resident and dedicated angler Pete Harris.
In the audio below, Collette Mueller speaks with WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs about how to pickle northern pike.