northern pike, or esox lucius, also known as jackfish in canada, is a broadly represented fish that we find in freshwater all over the northern world.
these freshwater predators are often likened to water wolves, although this implies a hunting style that is not at all accurate regarding pike. Pike live in slow moving or sluggish, clear waters, often weed choked or weedy. they lie in wait and then burst forth to nab their prey which is generally fish but often simply anything they can fit down their throats.
these fish grow to rather large sizes depending on their latitude and the size of their home body of water. in the north there are many older smaller fish while down south, the lower forty eight, they can grow to much greater lengths, the largest nearing a meter. they spawn in weed beds in clear water and generally a female will be accompanied by a smaller male and they will deposit spawn a few times a day for a few days. this happens as the water warms near about 9 degrees C. females are generally larger than males and they live for upwards of a two decades in favorable conditions. these fish do not migrate but are highly mobile. they strike with a distinctive snaking motion as they curve their body into an s shape before snapping forward, they generally bite their prey from the side catching it with their sharp needle like teeth before turning it to swallow it head first..
they are not monogamous, they are highly territorial and cannibalistic. in some subarctic lakes i am given to understand that they can be the only species of fish present. they are a hardy delicious fish that can be a pest, especially in our state as their predation can strongly , adversely affect salmon fry stocks. pike are endemic in the interior and to a few locations that were not glaciated here in Alaska and are invasive in a few other drainage’s and controlled by adf&g. my experience with pike in this state has been in the headwaters of the ahrnklin river (sp?) in yakutat.
back in Minnesota, i was lucky enough to eat pike regularly. it has a lovely white flaky flesh that fries wonderfully.
it is a wonderful game fish, but has been long associated with stories of swimmer attacks and blamed for other game fish depredations. the name mean s devil of the esox river.