Northern Pike

 

Pike pic220px-Pike_caught_frog

Hi, My name is Pike, my friends call me Jack, Water Wolf, or Pickerel, but if you prefer to address me in a more official sounding way, please call me Great Northern Pike, Great Northern Pickerel, or American Pike.

If you are a scientist you are probably more interested in my scientific name in which case please call me Esox lucius.

I can be found geographically in freshwater throughout the northern hemisphere, including Russia, Europe and North America. I have been introduced to lakes in Morocco although it is never a good idea to introduce me to a new place, I am quite invasive. I am also in the brackish water of the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is the only salt water area you will find me in, I can survive there because the salinity levels are quite low.

Don’t hate me because I am an ambush predator with needle-like teeth! I am a very stealth and aggressive predator and I enjoy sneaking up on my prey and catching them off guard. I eat other fish mainly whitefish, however I will happily feast on suckers, burbot, smaller northern pike and juvenile salmon. Being a large adult, I can eat voles, shrews, red squirrels, and small waterfowl. Not to brag, but I have been known to swallow small bald eagle chicks if the opportunity arises. When I was a juvenile I enjoyed small crustaceans and insects.

That being said, predators such as larger pike, otters, hawks, burbot, and humans are among who are interested in eating me as an adult. When I was a juvenile I was sought after by crayfish, frogs, and other fish.

I spent the first year of my life in my wetland home, upon which it was time for me to leave, and travel to the cooler waters of the lake that my parents lived in. Sometimes I spend my whole life within a very small area where I also have the potential as a species to span many miles of stream. I enjoy the habitat of sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. Due to the ice-covered, shallow lakes becoming depleted of oxygen, or freezing solid, I usually overwinter in rivers. Thus I migrate short distances from rivers in the winter to spawning grounds, and then to feeding areas in the summer to shallow areas. When the water is warm I get lethargic, and have much more energy in low temperatures making me quite active.

In late March to early May I will be ready to spawn. I may decide to lay my eggs under the ice, but I prefer warmer water somewhere between 39 and 52 degrees Fahrenheit and will then move into small streams and flooded marshes to do my business. I can deposit up to 100,000 eggs!   My eggs stick to the vegetation I lay them on. They will remain there for about two weeks, become fertilized by a male, and then they will hatch. My species is not one for parental care, they are on their own.

I am an adult female which means I am bigger than other male Pike and I live longer. Males of my species become sexually mature at 2-3 years-old and us females at 3-4 years-old. Otherwise we as females look pretty similar to the males in appearance.

In case you were wondering, I have a tendency to deposit my feces away from where I like to forage. Other species avoid my feces due to high levels of alarm pheromones.

When I am in Michigan I have been known to hybridize with the muskellunge E. masquinongy, we are close relatives.

 

You may have noticed I am famous. Here are the posters with my picture.   Lucky for me it is not me they are after, it’s the humans who are introducing me into Kenai Peninsula waters that are apparently in deep trouble!

pike_reward_posterThere is even a poem written about me! Check it out:

Poem entitled Northern Pike by poet James Wright: https://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15808

Sources:

https://eol.org/pages/206652/details

https://www.biokids.umich.edu/critters/Esox_lucius/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_pike

https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=northernpike.main

https://fishbase.org/home.htm

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/young_naturalists/pike_life/index.html

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/northern/biology.html

 

 

 

 

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