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The northern pike fish is known as a pike in
Britain and Ireland but is also sometimes called a
jackfish in Canada and the United States. It is a species of
carnivorous fish, a family of the pikes. They thrive in
freshwater in the northern hemisphere, particularly Canada.
The fish is usually an olive green color with shading into
yellow and white along the belly. The flank part of the fish has
short, light bar like spots. The fins sometimes have dark spots
on them. Sometimes the fins are also reddish.
Pike that are younger have a green body with yellow stripes
along it. As they get older the strips divide and the body turns
into an olive green. The fish does not have scales as such but
it does have light markings on its dark body. Also it has less
than six sensory pores on the underside of each side of the
Pike usually grow to a pretty good size. Their length can be
around 59 inches and their weight can be around 55 pounds. This
is on the larger side but it is not unheard of. The heaviest
pike known to be caught was caught in a stone quarry in Germany
in 1983. This fish was a female that was 58 inches and weighed
68 pounds. The pike that was the longest not the heaviest ever
caught was 60 inches long and weighed 62 pounds.
Pike caught in North America very seldom reach the size of the
ones caught in Europe. The biggest one in North America was
caught in New York and weighed 46 pounds. There are legends of
bigger pike in the States but they may just be that, legend.
Northern pike increase in weight as they grow longer.
Pike are found in shallow, weedy parts of
lakes and sluggish streams as well as in cold, clear, rocky
waters. They are typically “ambush predators.” This means as
they wait for their prey, they lie perfectly still for long
periods and then the accelerate in remarkable fashion as they
They will inhabit any body of water that is conducive to their
spawning and contains fish. Because they have a cannibalistic
nature, the younger pike need bodies of water that have plants
for shelter so they are not eaten. They like to be around rich
Although they are found in brackish water like the Baltic Sea,
they prefer water that is less turbidity. This is because of
their need and dependence on submersible plants and because they
are such hunters.
Pike spawn in spring when the water first
reaches 48 degrees Fahrenheit. As far as spawning goes, the
males reach the spawning areas before the females by weeks. The
females that are larger tend to arrive to the area earlier than
the smaller ones. The majority of the time, the female is
followed by many smaller males. When the female slows down, the
male will put his tail under the female’s body and release his
spawn that is then mixed with eggs due to the tail movement. The
spawning is composed of lots of these moves that goes on for
hours a day. With every move between 5 and 60 eggs are laid. A
female can continue to mate for three days in a row. When the
mating is concluded, the male tends to stay with the female for
a few extra weeks.
The eggs are sticky and are yellow to orange. The diameter of
the eggs is 2.5 to 3 mm. After hatching, the embryos are able to
swim but they stay on the bottom for quite a bit of time. This
stage lasts 5 to 16 days, depending on the water temperature.
Pike females reach the reproductive stage in a year. They
normally live 5 to 15 years but some can be old as 30. There
life span is dependent on lots of circumstances. Canadians have
quite a few old slender pike. On the other hand Baltic pike grow
to great lengths because they eat nutrient rich herring.
Pike feed by being very still in the water until their prey
swims by. They are able to do this because they have dorsal fin
rays and breast fins that they can move really fast and it
remains still and quiet. Before they strike their prey, their
body bends and they move remarkable fast out to the prey using
their large tail fins to reach them.
Pike have a reputation of catching their prey sideways in their
mouth. They then kill the prey by their back pointed teeth. They
then turn their prey headfirst to swallow it.
Pike eat mainly fish but they have been known to eat ducklings.
They also fed on frogs, insects and leeches. They are not picky
eaters. They will eat perch, which is very spiny and they will
even eat sticklebacks if there is no other prey available.
The northern pike is mainly a solitary predator. It does the
migration during spawning season but then mainly looks for prey
wherever they can find it.