Game Fish Identification Reference Guides

Pike, northern
(Esox lucius)
(Linnaeus, 1758); ESOCIDAE FAMILY; also called great northern pike, great northern pickerel, jack, jackfish
This is a holarctic species, meaning that it occurs around the world in northern, or Arctic waters. In North America it is found in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific, Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from Labrador to Alaska and south to Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska, USA. In Northern Eurasia pike are found from France to eastern Siberia and south to northern Italy.
Like the muskellunge, Esox masquinongy, and the pickerels, E. niger and E. americanus, it is a long, sleek, predatory fish with a broad, flat mouth resembling a duck's bill, and a single dorsal fin located on the posterior portion of the body. In body shape the members of the pike group are all identical, but the northern pike can be distinguished from its relatives by three main features. Most noticeably the greenish or yellowish sides of the fish are covered with lighter colored oblong horizontal spots or streaks, whereas all other species have darker markingsthan the background color. The second distinction is the scalation pattern on the gill cover and cheek. In the northern pike the cheek is fully scaled, but the bottom half of the gill cover is scaleless. In the larger muskellunge, both the bottom half of the gill cover and the bottom half of the cheek are scaleless. In the smaller pickerels the gill cover and the cheek are both fully scaled. The third distinctive feature is the number of pores under each side of the lower jaw; usually 5 in the northern pike (rarely 3, 4 or 6 on one side), 6 9 in the muskellunge (rarely 5 or 10 on one side), and 4 in the smaller pickerels (occasionally 3 or 5 on one side only).
It is considered a delicious food fish. The flesh is sweet, white and flaky, but like other members of its genus, it sometimes has a “weedy” or “muddy” taste during the summer months. This taste is probably due to the skin mucus and can be eliminated by removing the skin prior to cooking. It has considerable commercial value and is an excellent sport fish. Pike are usually taken by trolling with large spoons, plugs or natural baits, but casting and still fishing are also frequently successful

Current All Tackle Record

55 lbs 1oz ( 25 kg)

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