Northern Pike, Esox lucius

Scientific Name: Esox lucius                                      
Common Name(s): Northern Pike


Research Summary
: Evan Donald

My observations on doing my research would be that this was not easy and it took a lot of time because the northern pike is a complex species.  It was difficult because of a lack of resources on this species as an invasive.

What I found surprising about Esox lucius is that this fish is all over the world and I thought it was only in North America.  Some of the most interesting things I discovered is that this fish can thrive in almost all fresh waters and are able to live in low oxygen.  Another fact is that, although it has a negative impact on some ecosystems, it tends to be a positive for the fishing industry.

Identifying Characteristics

  • Built for quick acceleration.
  • Average fish is caught is 2 to 5 pounds but can exceed 20 pounds.
  • Their body has light markings on dark background.
  • Round tail fins.
  • The cheek of the pike is completely scaled.
  • Five or fewer pores on the side under the jaw.
  • Needle like teeth. 


Taxonomy of Species
   Scientific Classification
 What That Classification Means
 Kingdom Animalia  Eukaryotic, many celled, move, members eat plants or other animals, are
 invertebrates or vertebrates.

 Phylum Chordata
The phylum containing all chordata.
 Class Actinoptergtll  
 Ray finned fish.
 Order Esociformes 
 Most classic ambush predator. 
 Family Esocidae  Pike.
 GenusEsox  Fresh water fishes. 
 Species Lucis  A male given name.

Similar species include:
Sometimes mistaken for it's cousin the chain pickerel, Esox Niger, which is native to Maine. Cousin of the northern pike are the muskie and pickerel.

Location and Movement
    Origin/ Native Range

    • North America , Europe, and Asia.
    • Native to Great Lakes, and Mississippi River basins from Labrador to Alaska and south to Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Nebraska  Native to Montana in the South Saskatchewan River Drainage


     They were introduced as a game fish and stocked illegally.
    Spread of Species  It is stocked as a popular game fish and illegally introduced into places .  It is difficult to control
     because it lays so many egg's and with its voracious appetite. 
    Where is it now invasive?
    • Non-native to AL, CT, CA, NM, AR, GA, MA, KS, ID, IL, NH, WY, MO, OH, OR, NE, NV, NY,ME,MD, MS, MT, RI, UT, WV, TN, TX, NC, ND,NJ, PA, SD, KY, OK, VI, WA, WI, WY, AZ, CO, MN.
    Is this species in Maine?
    Where has it been identified?
    • The northern pike are in the Belgrade Chain of Lakes. 
    • This species are known to be in 28 non-flowing Maine waters and reported in 15 other waters. 
    • They are mostly found in the Androscoggin and Kennebec Rivers. 
    • Most recently they were introduced in the Penobscot .
    How was this species introduced?
    • This species was illegally introduced as a sport fish in the 1970's.  The pike became well known in the Belgrade lakes.
    • The northern pike spawn in late march and early may and they can lay up to 100,000 eggs.
    Maine Control
    • It is difficult to get rid of because it lays so many eggs and it has a mean behavior .
    • The Maine department of in land fisheries is battling this fish.
    •  A reporter from the Portland Press Harold said inadequate man power and lack of funds keep the department from tackling invasive fish species with a piscicide or electro-fishing.
    • Maine goals: to maintain pike populations, find the fisheries that are threatened, limit any new introductions.

    Natural Environment
    • Muddy rivers, deep dark lakes,, and sometimes occurs in brackish waters.  
    • They are also found in clear lakes, quiet pools, back waters, creeks and small or large rivers and can thrive in almost all fresh water. 
    • Pike like to stalk fish in quite weed beds.
    Climate and Temperature Range
     4C - 7C degrees (40F- 45.4F) are the favorable conditions for this fish .

    Ecological Interactions  Pike are carnivorous and will eat any animal in its way, including mammals.  Besides fish they eat
     crayfish, frogs, small rodents and even birds. 
     They attack their food and eat it .
    Consumed By
    • Pike are usually eaten by larger birds like bald eagles and mammals such as bears.
    • This fish is cannibalistic and will target smaller pike.

    • May change fish communities by eliminating species of minnows such as the red belly dace, fathead minnow, fine scaled dace and the brassy minnow.   
    • Threaten important trout and salmon fisheries.
     Human  To look at the positive side this could turn out to benefit the sport of fishing because this fish is a
     fun fish to catch and it puts up a good fight.  This fish could bring more people to the art of
     Economic  Pike take time and money from fisheries to manage the it's population.

    • The blue spot disease is common in the spawning season.  To tell if the fish has blue spot disease you look for blue or white spots on the fish. 
    • Enemies of larger pike are humans and lampreys. 
    • Pike eggs and hatch-lings are eaten by lager pike, perch, minnows, water fowl, water mammals and some insects .
     Mechanical  Draining down the lakes or ponds in spawning areas to reduce spawning and pike populations.
    • Encourage the MDIFW to use regulations designed to discourage illegal introductions. Maine currently does not use this but other places do. 
    • There are no fishing regulations in Maine for pike management or limits on how many pike you catch or the size.
     Chemical  They use chemical reclamation.  MDIFW use of board-spectrum fish poison are deemed
     impractical  on all but the smallest trout pounds. Considering environmental and social  concerns,cost,and the potential for success and lack of funding for expensive control.      .

  • Northern pike CAN live up to 30 years in the wild. The Esox lucius species is a very picky type of fish and will not eat artificial food like the bait brand "Gulp".