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Report an Invasive Species

Northern Pike

Northern Pike

Northern Pike

(Esox lucius )

Tags: Aquatic

Identification and Reproduction

Identification: 

  • The Northern pike is a large, carnivorous fish. 
  • It has an elongated body and on average grow between 40-55 cm long. They have been known to grow up to one meter long. 

  • Snoutis narrow and pointed with a series of large teeth in the lower jaw. 
  • They have a dorsal fin and anal fin that are opposite, near the tail.  
  • Scales cover their entire cheek. 
  • They are typically dark shades of green to brown with a light coloured underbelly. They are flecked with light golden green curved lines along the sides.  

  • Eyes are yellow and very mobile. 

Reproduction: 

  • Northern pike are regarded as random spawning fish. 
  • They spawn in shallow waters when temperatures are between 4-7oC. 
  • Eggs take two weeks to hatch. 
  • Fertilized eggs attach to aquatic vegetation. 
  • Parent pikes are not involved in raising the young. 

Habitat & Ecology

  • It can be found in freshwaters as well as brackish waters. 
  • They have been observed in a variety of freshwater bodies, ranging from cold deep lakes, warm shallow ponds and even muddy rivers. 
  • They are very adaptible and can survive in a wide range of water temperatures, clarity and oxygen levels. 
  • Northern pike are very territorial and are typically solitary. 
  • Adult pike will feed on frogs, crayfish, mice, muskrats and young waterfowl. 
  • Northern pikes can live up 12 years. 

Impacts

  • They predate on native species and put native cyprinids and salmonids at risk. 
  • Have known to hybridize with the native fish, muskellunge (Esox masquinongy). 
  • Known as a nuisance as it feeds on other game fish such as trout, bass and perch. 
  • Their presence can change the biodiversity of a waterbody. 

Management

  • Do not move Northern pike from one waterbody to another. 
  • If you catch a pike do not release it back into the water. 
  • Please report any sightings of a Northern pike. It is helpful to include pictures, date and location. 

Resources

For more information please refer to the Animal Diversity Web datapage on Esox lucius: American pike. 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada provides a brief factpage to help identify the Northern Pike as well as several ofther resources. 

Header photo (Elendal).