The northern pike averages 18 to 20 inches in length and has a single dorsal fin. 7 to 9 rows of light-colored, bean-shaped spots run down the sides of its dark green, elongated body. Its underside is white to cream colored. The northern pike's duck-bill shaped mouth is lined with sharp teeth.


Northern pike are carnivorous fish that use their sharp teeth to feed on smaller fish, frogs, crayfish, small mammals and birds. Young feed on zooplankton and other aquatic invertebrates.


Adult northern pike have few natural predators, but young may be eaten by predatory fish or aquatic birds.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Spawning occurs in the shallows when water temperatures reach about 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Females broadcast eggs over aquatic vegetation while 2 or more males fertilize them. Females leave spawning area after 5 to 10 days. Males remain for several weeks, but do not protect eggs. Eggs hatch in 2 to 4 weeks, and young grow rapidly. Northern pike have been documented to live 24 years.

Did You Know?

  • The Northern pike is an insatiable predator and popular sportfish that willingly bites lures and bait.
  • The Maryland state record was caught in 1999 in Deep Creek Lake. It measured 46 inches and weighed 24 lbs., 12 oz.

Sources and Additional Information