Northern Pike

Esox luciusPike’s areal is one of the biggest among freshwater fish. It is a major commercial fish of the Pskov-PeipsiLake. A common pike reaches up to 1.5 m in length and 35 kg in weight and more. It keeps to thickets of aquatic vegetation. The body is spotted, with light stripes running across and along. Depending on the nature and intensity of the waterfront vegetation, the pike can be gray greenish, gray yellowish or gray brownish – with a dark back and gray-rippled whitish belly. The dorsal, anal and caudal fins are black-spotted brownish, and the pelvic and pectoral one are yellowish red.

Pikes lay eggs at the temperature of 3-6°С, right after the ice-melt, by the shores at 0.5-1 m depths. When spawning, spikes swim to the shoals to splash noisily. Depending on its size, one female pike lays 17.5 to 215 thousand eggs. The non-sticky roe is large, about 3 mm across.

Pike’s diet is diverse depending on the circumstances. Mainly it consists of various fish. In lakes and water reservoirs that would be roach, perch, ruffe, bream and silver bream. In rivers, the proportion of typically riverine species – gudgeon, loach, minnow, spined loach, bullhead etc. – increases. In the spring, pikes readily prey on frogs. There were cases when pikes dragged mice, rats, sandpipers and even squirrels into the deep, when those were crossing the stream. Large pikes are capable of attacking floating ducks – such pikes are therefore called duck-grabs. Pikes are capable of grabbing fish 50% – in some cases 61-63% – as large and heavy as themselves. The diet of average pikes about 50 cm is predominated by various low-value fish, hence its role as a necessary lake fishery asset. In its absence or lack, the numbers of smaller ruffe and perches boost.

The oldest fish in the commercial hauls presently and dating back centuries are 20 years of age. There are data on a catch of a 33-year old pike.

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