Pike: The Poor Man’s Lobster with Fried Cattails

  Steaming Boil

They’re sometimes called slime darts, snot rockets, slough sharks, even water wolves… for those of you who have come across them, you know I’m talking about northern pike or jack fish.

As you can imagine (as the first sentence might imply), pike are not always looked upon with a whole lot of love, sometimes for good reason. The most common gripes I come across are that deboning them is a real pain and they tend to be covered in a slime that likes to get on everything.

So why, you might ask, would you ever want to pull a pike from the reedy shallows and go through all the trouble to get them to the table? Glad you asked. Because Poor Man’s Lobster, that’s why.

A small pike is usually under twenty-two inches and about two years old. These fish are a blast to catch because they’re young, active, and aggressive. However, they’re also the perfect size for the dinner table. Not only are they fun to target, but delicious to eat fried, pickled, or boiled into Poor Man’s Lobster.

I’m not going to go over how to debone a pike here. There are great videos out there that make it a fairly fun task if you’re a fan of the process. Go find a handy deboning YouTube video then come back here and make some Poor Man’s Lobster!


  • 4 northern pike fillets
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp dried basil or parsley flakes
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic


  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Take your pike fillets and cut them into roughly 1 inch pieces.
  3. In a large pot on your stove bring your water to a boil. While the water is heating up stir in your sugar, salt, and 1 tbsp of basil.
  4. When your water reaches a boil, carefully place your fish chunks in and cook until white and flaky. This step doesn’t take very long; just 4-5 minutes.
  5. In a small pan, melt the butter and toss in the garlic.
  6. Plate your beautiful Poor Man’s Lobster, sprinkle on some salt and more basil, and serve with your garlic butter as your dipping sauce. Enjoy!