Northern Pike

Northern Pike.
Credit: Gordon Court

Name

  • Common name: Northern Pike
  • Scientific name: Esox lucius
  • Order: Esociformes
  • Family: Esocidae
  • Indigenous names for this species may be available through the Yukon Native Language Centre

Also known as

Pike, Jackfish, Slough Shark

Viewing opportunities

  • Look for pike in small, shallow lakes, shallow bays in large lakes and in the sloughs and backwaters of large rivers.
  • Pike will lie motionless and well camouflaged among the shallow water vegetation, waiting to pounce on anything that comes too close.
  • Pike are known to splash at the surface while chasing prospective mates.

Description

  • Long, flat “duck-like” snout; large mouth with many sharp teeth.
  • Elongated body with a flattened snout.
  • Dorsal fin close to the tail and not adipose fin.
  • Dark green colour across the back, mottled down the sides with light yellow spots, fading to a whitish belly.

Fast facts

  • Length: 40 to 110 cm
  • Weight: 1 to 12 kg
  • Habitat: Freshwater

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S5 (Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined.

Behaviour

Northern Pike are the most widely distributed freshwater fish in Canada. They are usually solitary and highly territorial. They rarely move more than 500 m, except during spawning time. They prefer shallow, weedy areas close to shore, and calmer rivers. They will often winter in deeper rivers and lakes. They spawn in spring, right after ice-out, in shallow water with vegetation.

Diet

Aquatic insects, crustaceans, amphibians, fish, small mammals and birds.

Distribution

Northern Pike distribution map.

Pike and people

  • Pike are a popular choice among anglers as they are easy to catch and exciting on the line.
  • They can make a great meal if they are taken in cold northern waters.