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The Northern pike (Esox lucius), has a number of nicknames such as 'Northern', 'Great northern pike', 'Pike', and 'Jack'. Its name literally means 'water wolf'. The Northern pike is a freshwater game fish and the second largest member of the Esox (Pike) family. It is also that family's namesake. In North America they are native to Alaska, Canada and the Upper Midwestern United States. Their natural range also includes Northern Europe and Asia. They are a cold water fish and do best in deep lakes. Northerns are voracious feeders that require large supplies of fish for steady growth. If they are overpopulated in a body of water their growth rate is often stunted.
Northern pike and Muskellunge look very similar and are sometimes confused. The Northern has light colored markings on a dark body (the opposite of the Musky). Also the Northern has a rounded tail fins while the Musky's are pointed. The northern has a long body. It has a large number of very sharp teeth. The northern is the only member of the pike family with spots on its side that are lighter than the body color. Another difference is they have five or less pores under the jaw; muskies have six or more.
Habitat and forage
Northern pike are frequently found in very shallow water. They prefer weeds and are often found near fallen logs. In the early spring Northerns move to very shallow water. They often spawn in weedy marshes. As the weather warms up, Northerns move to deeper water close to the edges of weed beds.
Northerns eat other fish: they eat a lot of other fish. They control other fish species from becoming overpopulated. They feed on whatever is easiest to catch. They wait in ambush and can rush forward with tremendous speed.
- Barry Reynolds; John Berryman, Pike on the Fly: The Flyfishing Guide to Northerns, Tigers, and Muskies (Boulder: Johnson Books, 1993), p. 23
- "Northern pike". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2014. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/northern/index.html. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
- Ken Schultz, Ken Schultz's Field Guide to Freshwater Fish (Hoboken, NJ: J. Wiley & Sons, 2004), p. 157
- C. Iverson (2014). "Muskellunge". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/muskellunge/index.html. Retrieved 17 June 2014.
- "Northern Pike". Department of Natural Resources, State of Michigan. 2014. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,7-153-10364_53405-214036--,00.html. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Northern pike management". Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2014. http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/fish/northern/management.html. Retrieved 17 August 2014.
- "Fishing for Pike and their natural habitat". Great Pike Fishing Co., Ireland. http://www.greatpikefishing.com/fishing.htm. Retrieved 17 August 2014.