While wildly popular amongst anglers around the world, the IGFA World Record book shows that the biggest pike in the world come from Europe.
This list highlights some of the most impressive world record catches ever made on northern pike.
Lothar’s All-Tackle Record
Despite the millions of diehard pike fishermen around the world, Lothar Louis remains the envy of them all due to the 25 kg (55 pound, 1 ounce) northern pike he pulled from Lake Grefeern, Germany nearly 30 years ago. When Louis arrived at his local fishing hole on the morning of October 16, 1986, his plan was to target carp and roach — not northern pike.
However, Louis, like many of us anglers, was an optimist. It was Louis’ habit at the start of each fishing day to make 15 casts with his “pike rod” – a spinning outfit spooled with 8 kg (16 pound) mono. On just his third cast of the morning, Louis’ optimism was rewarded.
The monster pike inhaled his spoon and Louis was hooked up to the fish of a lifetime. Unable to net the fish due to its tremendous size, and worried that he would lose the fish, Lothar had no choice but to plunge his hands inside the gill covers to land the fish.
In an interview after the catch, Lothar is quoted as saying that he “was so excited he did not feel the pain as the huge teeth sank into both hands as he lifted her up on the bank.”
Certainly a desperate move, given the serious dentition of the northern pike, but with a fish like that on the line, can you blame him?
Nilsson’s 12-pound Line Class Record
The title of the second heaviest northern pike ever recorded — a 47 pound, 4 ounce beast — belongs to Swedish angler Ake Nilsson.
The historic catch was made on January 29, 1989 while Nilsson was casting an Italia lure from a 12-foot rowboat he was captaining down Sweden’s Lodde River. After coming tight to the pike, Nilsson skillfully played the fish for 15-20 minutes on 12-pound test and only a couple inches of wire leader.
Over the years, doubts have been raised about the true weight of the fish, as the photos don’t appear to show a fish of nearly 50 pounds. However, the fish’s massive length of 51.5 inches and a girth of 31 inches, leave little doubt to its incredible size.
Pinotti’s 8-pound Line Class Record
The frigid temperatures and snowfall were not enough to deter Swiss angler Giacomo Pinotti from making angling history on the morning of December 10, 1990, when he left his home in Ascona to fish the nearby Lake Maggiore.
From reviewing Pinotti’s record application, it appears he knew big pike were a possibility, as he reported using a large, live whitefish for bait.
Pinotti’s approach of “big bait = big fish” paid off that morning, as Pinotti ended up landing a huge 43-pound, 3-ounce pike, after an incredible hour and a half long fight on 8-pound test!
Making the catch even more impressive is that Pinotti was not using any leader, and he reported catching his record fish from the shore!
Pettersson’s 20-pound Line Class Record
Swedish angler Benny Pettersson barely missed the elusive 40-pound mark with his trophy, but the 39-pound, 14-ounce northern pike he pulled from Osthammer, Sweden on November 20, 1993 was plenty big enough to earn him a world record.
Pettersson was casting a black and silver Zalt plug from a small boat when the record pike hit. After a tense 10 minute battle, Pettersson boated the fish and quickly made his way to shore to officially document his catch and new men’s 20-pound line class world record.
Mattsson’s 6-pound Line Class Record
While pike fishing is very popular in Europe, what many non-European pike anglers don’t realize is that some of the best fishing occurs in saltwater.
In fact, Swedish angler Christer Mattsson landed his 35-pound, 12-ounce pike in the Baltic Sea, when he pulled it from Karlshamn, Sweden on September 19, 1998.
Mattsson was casting a shallow diving Opm lure from his 12-foot aluminum boat when the pike hit. After surviving the initial run with his 6-pound tackle and no leader, Mattsson settled in for a long battle as the pike towed him around for nearly an hour, before he could pull the fish on board. This is the only pike ever recorded by the IGFA on 6-pound tackle.
Pacchiarini’s 16-pound Fly Rod Record
On June 19, 2010, Italian angler Paolo Pacchiarini rented a boat for some fly fishing with his father on Lake Annone — just outside of Lecco, Italy — when a monstrous pike crushed the baitfish pattern fly he was casting.
The 8 inches of wire shock tippet immediately following his fly indicates that Pacchiarini knew there were toothy pike in the area, but he couldn’t believe the size of what he brought to the boat after the 10 minute fight.
Weighing in at a whopping 36 pounds, the catch not only earned Pacchiarini the new men’s 16-pound tippet class record, but it also earned him the bragging rights of having caught the largest northern ever recorded by the IGFA on fly tackle.
Townsend’s 2-pound Line Class Record
While Rick Townsend’s 23-pound, 15-ounce northern pike is not one of the largest specimens ever recorded with the IGFA — it is certainly one of the most impressive catches.
On August 10, 1990, Rick Townsend was actually guiding two clients in the Alaskan wilderness from his floatplane. After touching down in a shallow lake near Anvik, Townsend and his two clients began fishing from the floats on his floatplane.
Equipped with ultra-light tackle and casting a Mepp’s spoon, Townsend hooked into what he immediately knew was a quality fish.
After playing the fish for 15-20 minutes from the plane, Townsend jumped off the plane into the waist-deep water to distance himself from the hazards of the plane, and eventually landed the fish with his bare hands — earning him the men’s 2-pound line class record.
Lindwall’s 16-pound Line Class Record
It took Thomas Lindwall only 5 minutes to land the massive 39-pound, 12-ounce northern pike he pulled from a body just outside of Tenhultasjon, Sweden on a chilly November 1, 1990. Lindwall was trolling a Swim Whizz lure from his small boat when the record pike piled on.
After a short fight on 16-pound tackle, Lindwall had the fish in the boat and was on the way back to the dock to get an official weight reading on the fish that has held the men’s 16-pound line class record for 25 years.
Gockel’sAll-Tackle Length Record
German angler Stephan Gockel landed the largest All-Tackle Length record northern ever approved by the IGFA on October 1, 2013 while fishing around the area of Nimwegan in the Netherlands. Gockel was casting a Rooster V-Tail lure when he hooked into the 120 cm pike that he battled for 10 minutes before landing the fish.
Once in the boat and under control, Gockel quickly measured, documented, and released the fish alive.
Bradley Befus’ Two Fly Records
Holding a world record on a popular game fish such as northern pike is what many anglers dream of all their lives. Bradley Befus had that dream come true twice during a fishing trip to Alaska in August 1996 when he set two separate tippet class records on northern pike.
On August 5, 1996 Befus was fly fishing on the Innoko River when a 30-pound, 8-ounce pike crushed the fly he was casting.
Five minutes after hooking up, Befus had the quality pike on the shore, where he quickly documented and released the fish alive — earning him the men’s 20-pound tippet class world record.
Only three days later, on August 8, 1996, lightning struck the second time with Befus landing a 27-pound pike on the same river, but this time on light tippet.
After another short battle, Befus once again released the fish back into the Innoko and walked away with the men’s 8-pound tippet class record.