How to identify a Northern Pike
Like the muskellungeand the pickerels, it is a long, sleek, predatory fish with a broad, flat mouth resembling a duck’s bill and a single dorsal fin located on the posterior portion of the body. In body shape the members of the pike group are all identical, but the northern pike can be distinguished from its relatives by three main features. Most noticeably the greenish or yellowish sides of the fish are covered with lighter colored oblong horizontal spots or streaks, whereas all other species have darker markings than the background color. The second distinction is the scale pattern on the gill cover and cheek. In the northern pike the cheek is fully scaled, but the bottom half of the gill cover is scaleless. In the larger muskellunge, both the bottom half of the gill cover and the bottom half of the cheek are fully scaled. The third distinctive feature is the number of pores under each side of the lower jaw; usually 5 in the northern pike (rarely 3,4, or 6 on one side), 6-9 in the muskellunge (rarely 5 or 10 on one side), and 4 in the smaller pickerels (occasionally 3 or 5 on one side only).
Where to catch Northern Pike
In North America it is found in the Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific, Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins from Labrador to Alaska and south to Pennsylvania, Missouri and Nebraska, USA.
|Greenish or yellowish sides covered with lighter colored oblong horizontal spots or streaks|
|Single dorsal fin located on the posterior portion of the body|
|Long, sleek, predatory fish with a broad, flat mouth|
Acknowledgements: We thank TAKEMEFISHING.org (www.takemefishing.org), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Department of Natural Resources for their contributions to these FISH FACTS.