The Story Behind the World Record Northern Pike and Where to Catch Them

The world record northern pike is 55 lb 1 oz. It was caught by Lothar Louis using a spoon in Greffern Lake in Germany.

You will find Lake Greffern featured on the map below and its official name as stated in the IGFA World record pike link above is Lake of Grefeern, Germany. The lake is connected to the river Rhine and sits right on the border of Germany and France.

The Story Behind This Record Pike

The Story Behind This Record Pike
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The story behind the biggest northern pike ever caught is a great one as it tells a story of the luck many anglers experience from time to time along with the dedication every angler has for their passion.

Lothar Louis had no intention of going pike fishing the day the giant pike was caught. It was the morning of October 16th, 1986 and Louis was planning on catching a few roach and carp. But, ever the optimist he brought his northern pike rod with him.

Louis actually had a ritual of making 15 casts with his norther pike rod every fishing trip before he did anything else just in case some big pike were in the area.

On this particular day, he was using spinning gear with a 16 lb line and a spoon on the end, and on his third cast, he hooked the monster pike. After a long fight with the large pike, Louis knew it wouldn’t fit in the net and he didn’t want to risk losing his biggest ever pike caught.

Instead of netting the fish, Louis being a brave angler put one hand into the gill plates and then the other, after which he heaved the record pike onto the shore to land it. I don’t know if you have ever put your bare hands in a northern pike and proceeded to pull but it’s full of teeth.

Louis said he didn’t feel the teeth of the record pike go into his fingers as he was far too excited and landing his biggest pike and the largest pike caught on rod and line in history.

Are There More Record Norther Pike In The Lake of Grefeern?

While the biggest pike in history was caught in this lake, it is the only record pike ever caught there with no previous or records after. All the other norther pike records were caught in other parts of the world so the question lies as to whether the species does well in this lake or not.

Since the lake is connected to the Rhine and packed full of great pike prey like carp and roach, there was plenty of bait for the IGFA world record pike to gorge on.

But since no more record fish were caught in the lake, it’s my thought that the pike came into the lake from the Rhine by chance and found a ton of prey and stocked up until it became one of the largest specimens ever caught.

About Northern Pike

About Northern Pike

Northern pike is a species of game fish that are also known as great northern pickerel, jack, and jackfish. As you can guess from the name you can find this fish in the northern part of the world.

Known as a holarctic species you can find these fish around the arctic waters of the planet. This means fishermen can go fishing for them anywhere in Northern America, Nothern Europe, and Northern Asia.

Some of the most popular places to go in search of these fish are the USA, Canada, Sweden, France, Italy, and Siberia too.

These are long fish with a lot of length, a big belly, a large tail, and some beautiful colorings along the fish. Their mouth is full of sharp teeth and you will want to fish with forceps so you can remove your hooks.

You can find them in both rivers and lakes that flow into the Baltic Sea, Atlantic, and the Pacific Oceans.

Where Have Other Northern Pike World Records Been Caught?

Lake Maggiore, Italy

The All-Tackle Length World Record fish was caught by Michelangelo Schenone in Lake Maggiore, Italy on the 23-Sep-2021 and it measured a whopping 124.0 cm and you can only wonder how much it weighed.

But this is not the only northern pike world record caught in this lake as on the 10-Dec-1990, Giacomo Pinotti caught a 43 lb 3 oz pike on 8lb line.

If you look at Lake Maggiore on a map you will see that it is a huge fishery and the perfect place for hunting world records. A large number of pike of similar weight will certainly be swimming around this lake but fishing for them is another story.

Using a boat is key to covering enough ground and you can use tactics like trolling lures, fishing deeper water, close to the sore, and casting a lure to the shore when the fish are in shallow water.

Centro Cadore Lake, Italy

Centro Cadore Lake, Italy

Another spot that is home to big fish, this fishing spot has produced the largest ever pike caught fly fishing.

Paolo Pacchiarini was on a fly fishing trip in the summer targeting his favorite game fish when he hooked into a 43 lb northern pike on the fly. This world record fish was caught using a big fly on a 20 lb tippet with a wire leader too.

To catch a fish of this weight while fly fishing is no joke and Paolo Pacchiarini actually also holds the previous fly fishing world record pike of 36 lb caught ten years earlier on Lake of Annone, Lecco, Italy.

Lodde, Sweden

The world record fish caught on 12 lb line is the second heaviest pike to ever landed and it was caught in Lodde, Sweden. This record was fished by Ake Nilsson in January of 1989 and the record weighed in at 47 lb 4 oz.

Sweden is a place that is known for pike records and to date, Sweden alone holds 4 of the 9 Line Class World Records for pike so if you are in search of a record fish grab a Swedish fishing guide and head to either Lodde, Tenhultasjon, Osthammar, or Reslegylet.

All of these fishing areas have produced records ranging from 35 to 47 lbs so you are in with a good chance of catching one there.

Alaska and Canada

Alaska and Canada are responsible for a line class record or two, especially among the women’s records. Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories, Canada holds three women’s records, and every catch was made in the month of June.

The women’s 8 lb, 12 lb, and 16 lb records were landed there, two of them on the same day the 3rd June 2016, and the other the following year on 04-Jun-2017.

The men’s 4lb record is held at Great Slave Lake too and it was caught in June also. The fish weighed a huge 27 lb 11 oz. If you want to catch a record pike, this lake in Canada is a good bet.

If you love fishing in rivers then the Holitna River in Alaska is a great bet and it holds the women’s records for 20 lb and 30 lb lines.


How Do I catch Big Pike?

How Do I catch Big Pike

Now that we have run through the major record pike holding waters let’s discuss how you might be able to convince a record fish to take your bait.

Now, there are a ton of tactics you can use to catch pike from trolling on a boat, casting lures, using live bait, and fly fishing too. Big pike like to eat big baits so when you are fishing for a record, make sure your lure, fly, or bait is huge.

I have seen guys catching 12-inch Rapalas on lakes in Ireland and they end up catching some monster fish by doing so. Be sure your live bait, fly, or lure looks like a good meal for your catch.

Do You Need Wire To Land Pike?

It is a good idea to use a wire trace if you can when fishing for pike as their teeth will bite through mono or fluoro with ease. But, the pike aren’t always stupid enough to eat a bait with wire at the end of it, so it depends on where you are fishing.

If you are fishing in crystal clear water for pike you will want to use the heaviest fluorocarbon that the fish won’t spook when they see. Fluorocarbon is invisible underwater but the thicker it is the easier it is or the fish to see.

I would suggest using 100lb fluorocarbon first as big pikes won’t bite through it. If it doesn’t work then drop down to 80lb, then to 60 lb, and then to 40lb until you find what they are happy with.

Do You Need A Boat To Fish For Pike?

It totally depends on where you are fishing but in general, pike will still cruise along the shore and follow deep drop-offs. You can find them by casting from the shore if you don’t have a boat. But a boat is a great help to cover ground and work deep ledges on big waters.

See the IGFA Record here.

Photo of author

Jamie Melvin

Growing up fly fishing on trout streams in Kenya and the UK, Jamie has traveled the world in search of fly fishing nirvana. From his time managing bonefish lodges in the Bahamas and running fishing safaris in East Africa, all the way to guiding on the flats of Seychelles, there aren't many species or environments he hasn't experienced firsthand.

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