Northern Pike (Esox lucius)

Description

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Size

  • In Alberta, members of this species have been known to weigh up to 22 kilograms (50 pounds).

Appearance

  • Sometimes called jackfish, northern pike are long, slender fish with sharp, backward-slanting teeth, duck-like jaws and a long, flat head.
  • The back and sides are predominantly dark green to olive-green, with yellow to white spots.
  • Because of a tiny gold spot found on the tip of most scales, pike appear flecked with gold.
Distribution
  • A popular sport fish, pike are found throughout Alberta.
  • Distribution in the foothills and mountains is limited to a few lakes in the foothills.
Natural History

Habitat

  • This species prefers shallow, weedy clear waters in lakes and marshes, but also inhabits slow streams.

Food

  • Pike will eat insects, but as voracious predators they feed primarily on fish and other vertebrates.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Spawning occurs in flooded areas of vegetation in early spring, often when ice is still on the lakes.
  • Northern pike are broadcast spawners, with females and males swimming alongside each other releasing their eggs and milt (excretion of male sperm cells) into the water.
  • Fertilized eggs stick to vegetation and incubate. Hatching occurs in 12 to 17 days.
  • Young of the year are present as early as May.
Conservation and Management

Status

Northern pike are classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management

Fishing

Northern pike are cool-water game fish subject to current Alberta sportfishing regulations. For details, see the My Wild Alberta website at:

 

Page Information

Updated: Apr 9, 2009