Northern Pike

What it looks like

  • very large, elongated body
  • dark green to brown body with light, yellowish or white spots
  • dark back fades to creamy white belly
  • fully scaled cheek and partially scaled gill cover
  • 10 pores on underside of lower jaw
  • tips of tail fin more rounded than muskellunge

Size

  • length: 45-75 centimetres (18-30 inches)
  • weight: 0.9-4.3 kilograms (2-9.5 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 19.1 kilograms (42.1 pounds)

Similar fish

How to tell the difference between northern pike and muskellunge

Where it is found

Range of the northern pike

Range

  • widely distributed throughout most of the province
  • not historically found in parts of central Ontario but gradually expanding into these areas
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers

Habitat

  • vegetated bays, creek mouths and shoals of lakes where they can ambush prey
  • find deep water in the summer to avoid higher water temperatures, except in northern areas

Angling tips

  • aggressive feeders – can be caught year-round
  • bite all day, but morning and evening, when baitfish activity peaks, are best fishing times
  • medium-action rod and reel cover most situations
  • use strong leaders to prevent the pike's sharp teeth from biting through the line
  • take almost any live or artificial bait, including very large streamer flies

Common baits

  • spoons, in-line spinners
  • crankbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits
  • topwater lures
  • live baits, including large chubs, suckers and shiners
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