The genetic relationships among 337 northern pike (Esox lucius) collected from the coastal zone of the central Baltic region and the Finnish islands of Åland were analysed using five microsatellite loci. Spatial structure was delineated using both traditional F-statistics and individually based approaches including spatial autocorrelation analysis. Our results indicate that the observed genotypic distribution is incompatible with that of a single, panmictic population. Isolation by distance appears important for shaping the genetic structure of pike in this region resulting in a largely continuous genetic change over the study area. Spatial autocorrelation analysis (Moran's I) of individual pairwise genotypic data show significant positive genetic correlation among pike collected within geographical distances of less than c. 100–150 km (genetic patch size). We suggest that the genetic patch size may be used as a preliminary basis for identifying management units for pike in the Baltic Sea.