Northern Pike a voracious predator

Esox lucius. The pike family is made up of various pikes, the muskellunge, and the true pickerels (not the walleye though).
The Northern Pike is, by far, the best known of the pike family.
All true pikes have the same general shape. The body is long and straight, and there is no fin in the centre of the back. The dorsal and fins are almost opposite each other, like the feathers of an arrow.
All of these species have an underslung jaw and razor-sharp teeth. All pikes are gray-green with mottling.
The Northern Pike has a dark background with light markings while his similar cousin, the muskellunge, has the colours the other way around.
Their preferred warm weather habitat is relatively shallow and weedy areas although my fishermen friends tell me they do move out into deeper water in the winter.
They spawn in shallow water where there is vegetation. In may cases, they choose flooded pasture land, drainage ditches, and other very temporary locations during spring flooding.
Once spawning is done, the parents have no further interest in the eggs–except to eat a good many of the young when they are big enough.
Minimum age for spawning is three-four years. The female will deposit anywhere from 7,000-600,000 eggs, depending on her age and size. There needs to be a lot of eggs because little pike have a very tough time of it. If the eggs do hatch, then the fry may be eaten by aquatic insects, all sorts of other types of fish, and by each other.
Not much happy family relationships here!
The losses are tremendous, and the little one which lives to be a year old has about the same degree of luck as the winner of the lottery.
There is a surprising variation of opinion about the Northern Pike. In some areas, it is sneered at as the lowly “jackfish” and is cast back into the water with contempt.
In other areas, though, it is highly-prized as a game fish. Whole tourist industries are built around the “fighting northern.”
In terms of commercial fishing, here are some interesting figures taken from Ministry of Natural Resources records. In 1973, about 650,000 pounds of pike were landed in Ontario. Of this, about 590,000 pounds were landed from northern inland water.
And of this, some 400,000 pounds came from Lake of the Woods and 70,000 pounds from Rainy Lake.
In the commercial sense, as well as a game fish, this is a northern species.
I am told the average for this pike is about three pounds or so but certainly there are some very large ones around. The Ontario record (42 pounds plus) was caught in the Kenora District but the world record (53 pounds) was landed in Ireland.
The Northern Pike is a predator. It is a voracious eater of other fish, crayfish, ducklings and small mammals, and whatever else is edible and handy.
Like all predators, its purpose is to keep other species under control, and to maintain the essential balance in the natural world.
In addition to that, it is one of Northern Ontario’s most valuable game fish.

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