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Northern Pike

Esox lucius

Pike Family

Freshwater Fish Identification

Northern Pike


Common Name(s):
Common pike, jack, jackfish
Description:
The back of a northern pike is generally a dark green, fading to a light green on its sides and a cream white on the belly. There are very distinctive light-colored oval shaped spots against the darker color on the sides. The cheeks are fully scaled, as well as the upper half of the gill cover. The lower jaw protrudes with the underside containing five or less large sensory pores on each side, making the head consist of one fourth of the length of the entire fish. The rounded fins have distinctive dark markings.
Similar Fish:
Muskellunge, pickerels
Feeding Habits:
Young fish eat primarily insects and insect larvae, waterfleas, and copepods. Adult northerns eat almost entirely fish, such as sunfish, perch, and even smaller northern pike, but are also known to eat frogs, crayfish, mice, muskrats, ducklings, and other shore birds. This is one of the most fearsome predators in freshwater.
Range:
The whole of the northern United States, stretching down to Nevada , east through Maryland, plus Texas, Arkansas, Alaska, and all of Canada.
Habitat:
Northern pike can live in almost any freshwater streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. They prefer slow-moving water with heavy vegetation. These fish grow larger in cooler waters, but live in warmer waters as well.
Typical Size:
This species grows up to 3-4 feet in length and over 30 pounds. Fish that weigh over 10 pounds are fairly common in larger lakes and bodies of water. A typical catch is about 5 pounds.
World Record:
55 pounds, 1 ounce (Source - IGFA)