Pike are known for their ferocious attacks and almost endless appetites, capable of grabbing anything and everything that’s loose and stuck. From the other fish and frogs in the river to small birds that land too close to the water. Pike are famous for their mouths full of razor-sharp teeth and know all too well how to use them. In America, the chain pickerel is very famous.
They are cunning predators and for many smaller animals the subject of their nightmares. But the craziest stories circulate about pike. So what is fact and what are typical fishing stories?
You may also want to know what kind of eagles there are.
The pike, a northern freshwater fish
Pike like large pools of deep, slow-flowing water such as lakes, rivers and large streams. They prefer ponds where there are plenty of reeds. They use those reeds to lurk in order to catch their next dinner unseen. Pike are found throughout the Northern Hemisphere. From North America and Canada to all of Europe and parts of western Asia, they have claimed the entire northern part of our earth as their territory.
Physical pike characteristics
Pike are generally quite large, the female versions larger than the male. Pike range in size from as little as half a meter to 1.8 meters long, depending on the species and the area in which they live. The pike’s gray-green scales provide perfect camouflage when hiding among reeds. Chain pickerel are much smaller.
The pike is one of the most easily recognized fish, mainly because of their elongated body shape and distinctive pointed head. Pike’s teeth are pointed and razor-sharp. This makes catching prey more efficient. The heavier the pike is, the more likely the fish is female. Male pike rarely weigh 4.5 kg or more.
Pike: lazy, cunning carnivores
Pike are carnivores and consume a large amount of food every day. Their diet consists mainly of fish smaller than them. But because of their lazy nature, they sometimes eat animals such as frogs and birds. A pike is a watcher. He hides among plants, silently, until prey comes close enough for him to catch it at once. They eat literally anything they can catch, as long as they don’t have to put too much effort into it.
Killing and cannibalism, but no enemies
In its local underwater world, the pike is the greatest, feared enemy of any other aquatic creature. No one is equal to this immense animal with razor-sharp teeth. The pike is the killer of lakes and streams. In addition, it indulges in cannibalism by chasing its smaller conspecifics. Pike have no natural enemies, besides, of course, people who have elevated pike fishing as a sport.
An Esox family tree
The pike family divides into 5 recognized species of these predatory fish:
Esox americanus: a species located, you guessed it, in North America. This species of Esox is further subdivided into 2 subspecies: the redfin pike, which takes care of the east, and the grass pike, which makes the west of the continent unsafe. Sort of, anyway, because in many places you can find both. Fun fact is that these 2 subspecies can make offspring together, so there are a lot of hybrids swimming around as well.
These species are relatively small and fall under the small pike species;
Chain pickerel (Esox niger): another small pike species is the Chain pickerel, which also makes it a direct cousin of the previous 2 species. Chain pickerel are mostly found in North America and is known to just be everywhere. It is ubiquitous.
Amur pike (Esox reichertii): this pike naturally occurs only in the Amur region, the border between Russia, China and Mongolia. The Amur pike falls under the category of large pike and is similar in length to our pike. Therefore, it is a sought-after prize pike among anglers. This pike stands out from its pedigree counterparts by its striking coloration: white-silver with black bulbs.
Pike (Esox lucius): This species is the only one found in Europe as well as Asia and North America. It is the most common species and is known to be the most aggressive among its relatives. This pike is also among the large pike species. The American version is generally smaller than the European variety. The Esox lucius is one of the laziest pike species.
Muskellunge (Esox masquinongy): this North American large species of pike has much in common with the Esox lucius. Especially character-wise. In fact, the Muskellunge is even lazier than its conspecific and thus sometimes goes in search of easy-to-catch prey instead of tiring itself out by swimming after another fish. These pike are the largest of all species and live the longest.
Esox cisalpinus and Esox aquitanicus: In addition to the 5 major species, 2 new species were discovered in 2011 and 2014 and in Italy and France, respectively. These species are relatively new. They both belong to the large species of pike.