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Nature

Pikemen, Step Forward!

Awesome ambush predator able to sit motionless for hours…

three men in a tub
The Butcher, the Baker and the Candlestick maker….. Photo by Bernell MacDonald from Pixabay.

The Northern Pike is found over most of the Northern Hemisphere and is regarded as a good fighting fish. There is reference to this fish as an eating fish far back as Roman times. The flesh is described as a mild- tasting white flesh. It inhabits pretty much any freshwater rivers and pools, from deep and large to relatively shallow. The current recognized record for a Northern Pike is in Germany and is a 55 lb (25 kg) fish caught by Lothar Louis.

In Finland, a pike weighing at least 22 lb (10 kg) is regarded as the qualifying factor as a master fisherman. These fish are found across Russia, Europe, North America and are ambush predators, able to sit motionless for long periods of time until some luckless prey passes.

pike encountered on night dive
A pike encountered during a night dive. Photo by Marcel Einig from Pixabay.

Pike have a duck bill shaped mouth with a formidable arsenal of teeth being long, sharp and backward facing, numbering anything from 300 to 700. The general rule is if you somehow end up with your finger in its mouth – don’t try to pull it out without first opening the mouth and extracting it in a controlled manner.

The pike is not related to the barracuda but shares the same aggressive nature and ambush abilities. Our fish can swim at from 8 to 10 mph (13 to 16 kph) and is a ferocious eater of other fish, small mammals, frogs, birds and even other pike.

free swimming pike
Pike. Photo by astro_ice from Pixabay.

Spawning occurs as males and females swim in close proximity to one another. Males nudge the females abdomens with their tails which encourages the female to release her eggs.

Males release milt which is a seminal fluid and so fetrilization occurs externally. Pike can lay between 25 000 and 225 000 eggs which attach themselves to vegetation where they remain until hatching in about 3 weeks odd, depending on water temperature.

Young pike eat their egg sacks and then young plants or small animals and growth can be rapid depending on temperature and food availability. Our young pike can look forward to a life span of 7 to 10 years but there are exceptions with claims of up to 25 years.

Decent size pike
Quick with the pic – lest I smile. A decent size pike. Photo by Scottslm from Pixabay.

The females, after spawning have an appetite second to none and eat anything that will fit into their mouths, including the males!

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