Fishing Ontario Canada


Distribution in the area:

Bell Rapids Lake, Bird Lake , Buck Lake, Fraser Lake, Kamaniskeg Lake, Papineau Lake, Stringer Lake,


Esox, the old Latin name for pike, used as early as Pliny; perhaps derived from the Greek isox, or both the Latin and Greek from a common Celtic root (as in the Welsh ehawc, eog, "salmon")
lucius, from the supposed Latin name for the species, likely derived from the Greek lukos, "wolf", an obvious reference to the predatory habits of this fish.
Common name is short for pike-fish, a reference to the long, pointed snout resembling the pike, an iron tipped staff. Rather like the French, where brochet is the fish, but broche is a spit.
Other common names include: Common Pike, Great Northern Pike, Jack, Jackfish, Northern, Pickerel, Pike, Snake, Gädda (Swe), Štika obecná (Czech), kinoje (Ojibwe)


Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata, animals with a spinal chord
Subphylum Vertebrata, animals with a backbone
Superclass Osteichthyes, bony fishes
Class Actinopterygii, ray-finned and spiny rayed fishes
Subclass Neopterygii
Infraclass Teleostei
Superorder Protacanthopterygii
Order Esociformes, the pikes and mudminnows
Family Esocidae, the pikes and pickerels
Genus Esox, the pikes


The largest, and most voracious, predator of northern waters.


18"-30", can exceed 4'


20 oz to 8 lbs, to over 40 lbs


extremely variable, depending upon the waters from which it is taken.
back and sides predominantly dark green to olive-green, to almost brown, with irregular rows of yellow to white spots.blueish-green to grey
lighter on lower sides
underside cream to milk-white
tiny gold spot on the tip of most scales - appears flecked with gold.
eyes brilliant yellow


slimy; long, slender, and serpentine
lateral line of 119 to128 scales
dorsal fin of 16-19 soft rays, located far back on the body


long and flat, depressed forward into a pair of large, duck-billed jaws imbedded with numerous canine teeth.
teeth sharp, backward-slanting
cheek fully scaled, but lower half of opercle scaleless
number of sensory pores located along the undersides of the lower jaws is never more than 10
14-16 branchiostegal rays in membrane just below gill cover.


10-26 years depending upon the area


Identifiable as a Pike by long, narrow body shape extreme rearward placement of the dorsal fin pointed snout with strong jaws and numerous sharp teeth
The only Pike in the BWCA
Outside our area, distinguished from its cousin the Muskellunge or Muskie (Esox masquinongy) by: light markings on a dark green background lower half of the cheek completely scaled five or fewer pores on each side of the underside of the jaw
rounded tail tips .
Silver Pike, an uncommon variant of the Northern, is dark silver or greenish gray, rather like the "clear" coloration of the Muskie.


Prefers shallow, weedy, clear waters in lakes and marshes, but also inhabits slow streams. After ice-out, they move further into shallows and marshes to spawn, retreating to deep, cool waters (65º or less) in summer.
Small Northerns remain in shallow weedy waters through much of the year.


A voracious predator -- consuming three to four times its weight during the course of a year. They ambush prey from weedy cover, seizing fish with needlelike teeth. Concentrating their efforts on larger forage, they often swallow fish a third their own length.
Adults feed largely on other fish as well as frogs, crayfish, mice, muskrats, and ducklings. Favorite prey include suckers, shiners, chubs, Cisco (Coregonus artedi), Yellow Perch (Perca flavescens), and other Northerns. Though eating sunfish and bass, they prefer more cylindrical fish. (A better "fit" don't you know)
Fry feed on plankton and then invertebrates but soon switch to a diet of fish.
Large Northerns become lethargic in warm water, eating little and sometimes losing weight. (In prolonged high temperatures and low oxygen, they may actually starve.)
Because of their size and stealth, their only important predator is people.


In the 17th century, Izaak Walton gave a recipe for roast stuffed pike that called for sweet marjoram, pickled oysters, mace, claret wine, and anchovies. The result, he claimed, was "too good for any but anglers and honest men."


US: 46lb 2oz., 1940, Sacandaga Reservoir, NY
Minnesota: 45lb 12oz, Basswood Lake, BWCAW, (Lake County).
Minnesota (Silver Phase): 18 lbs, 14 oz, from Disappointment Lake, BWCAW, (Lake County)


Popular both on hook and on table, the Northern's fight and flavor are both highly esteemed.
Unlike other common species of game fish, Northerns are most active when waters are cool and seem to bite best during daylight hours. They are a favorite of ice fishermen. As predators, they prefer live fish baits or reasonable artificial facsimiles thereof.
This long, jut-jawed fish has an image problem. In some regions, fishermen disdain it as a "slimy snake" and a destroyer of worthier fish.


Spawns in flooded areas of vegetation in early spring, often when ice is still on the lakes. Spawning occurs at temperatures of 34º-40º F, but 36º-37º F seems to be preferred.
Females deposit up to 100,000 eggs, scattered at random. The adhesive eggs stick to flooded vegetation, hatching 12-14 days later. There is no parental care.
Young remain in shallow nursery areas feeding on zooplankton before converting to a fish diet. By fall they reach a length of 6" or more, and at the end of their third year measure 17"-23".
Northerns usually reach sexual maturity in the third year of life.


For those of us of northern European ancestry and an interest in such things, this is one of the fishes that would have fed our ancestors in the distant past.