Pike`s Look, Age, Water, Size And Weigth

A pike (Esox Lucius) is the only representative of its kin in Europe. In East Asia there is one additional relative to the pike and in North America there are three pike kin represented.

Pike`s Look


A pike’s characteristics are very individual, and they cannot be mixed with any other fish in Europe.


The body is long with an oval cross-section and the head is big with long powerful jaws which have an under bite. The dorsal fin is placed far back and the eyes are big. The pike has relatively small shells and the numbers of shells found on the side of its body are little over hundred.

The side-line, which is a sense organ, is well developed. In addition to the side-line the pike has more sense organs which belong to the same system. The side-line’s extension channels in the head are also well developed.
The pike has a grey green color with dark cross stripes and yellow, oval spots. The cross stripes are most visible on smaller pike, but otherwise the color tones can vary from one fish to another and there can be significant variations in the appearance of pike even within the same body of water.

Pike`s Size and Weight

Really big pike are always females. Male pikes rarely achieve a weight more than 11lbs (5 kgs). For a pike to reach the really high weight classes it takes regular and rich access to nutrition and at good growth conditions in the first years. From the very comprehensive pike material which was gathered in a Swedish freshwater laboratory, it stated that only one out of 200 female pike weighs more than 11lbs (5kgs), while only 7 of 1000 male pike are over 4.4lb (2 kgs). The material which forms the foundation for these numbers are gathered from large areas which contain several waterways that have different conditions for pike.

The relationship between body length and weight varies between different pike. Such weight differences does not only relate to how much food the pike has in its stomach or the stage of gender gland development, but also how quickly the pike has grown and its type of physique.

It is clear that a pike’s speed of growth become less the more northern you are. Studies done in Middle-Europe shows that pike grow best when the water temperature is 18-19 degrees Celsius. When the water temperature exceeds 20 degrees Celsius, growth slows. Besides water temperature, nutrition and population density play a big role in the speed of growth.

There can be large individual differences among pike in the same lake when it comes to speed of growth, but as a general rule a pike’s growth potential is very large. The results of pike outputs in Sweden demonstrates this:
Pike fry were put in water that did not have any other pike. When the pike were 5 years old, the largest was 105 cm long and weighed16.3 lbs(7.4 kgs).
The pike’s growth season is very short. Growth begins after the spawning period and ends in September. Pike do eat in the winter but in northern areas they do not grow and their size will not increase

Pike`s Age

A pike’s age is based on the number of year rings in the shell but it can be harder to determine when it comes to large pike. A better gauge of determining age can be obtained by cutting through and studying some bones in the fish’s head.

It been found that some pike, based on shell analysis, have been found over 30 years of age but because shell analysis is not entirely accurate, experts do not agree with those impressive numbers. In the US, by using a more proven method, one study found that pike did not live more 24 years , but in Sweden one study has not, with certainty, been able to prove pike live longer than 16 years.

In any case, one can determine that a pike older than 15 years is rare, and even more so after 20 years. In South Finland one discovered that a pike of 16.5 lbs (7-8 kg) are usually 12-14 years old, but this does not mean that the really big pike which can weigh about 44 lbs (20 kilos) are really old. Instead, those pikes which achieve exceptional size, are fish with special growth abilities, and have grown quicker than other pike right from the beginning.

Pike Waters

The pike does not have strict demands as to water quality. One can find them in lakes with clear water, brown water or clay colored water. The oxygen content, however, must not be under 3 ml/l, even though pike can manage for some time in water with an oxygen content of only 1-2 ml/l. Water’s acidity is also significant. In water with a pH below 4.2 pike cannot spawn. The pike can also live in brackish water. A fully grown pike can live in water with a salt content up to 1%, but for reproduction to succeed, the saltiness must be under 0.7 %.

Pike can also live in rivers with rather strong currents. Water temperature is not a significant factor for the pike’s prevalence as it thrives well in harsh inland climates in heights of 700 meters above sea level were the winter can be quite long.
The best waters to find pike are typically shallow and nutritionally rich with fertile vegetation. The vegetation in the water is important for the pike, both when spawning and for hiding places for its ambush attacks on prey.

Many of the nutrition rich lowland lakes which have a good pike population have inflow often from farms when they over-fertilize. The pike are able to withstand this but only to a certain limit. If the overflow from fertilizing becomes too strong, it adversely affects the pike’s reproduction.

Pike`s Migrations

The pike is a stationary fish. Large pike can travel a bit when searching for food, and in large lakes it likely move to deeper water in the winter, even if the pike can find food in both deep and shallow water throughout the year. Though it can occur over certain distances to and from the spawning ground,we as a rule talk about short distances. Still it is clear that the pike’s greatest activity is before and after spawning.
Typically pike move just a few hundred yards from their regular resting places. Experiences tracking a tagged pike demonstrates this very clearly. When the fish was tagged on June 7, 1958 it was 12.6 inches long and weighed 0.53 lbs..

It was later found and controlled on July 22, 1959 within an area of 150 yards around the original tagging place. It was found and documented again on July 22, 1959 where it was measured at 14.6 inches in length and weighed 0.88 lbs. It was tracked again on August 28, 1959, on August 31, 1959 (weighing 0.93 lbs and measuring 16.5 inches) and again on September 22, 1960.

A very extensive Finnish study showed very interesting information about pike migrations. During a three year period in the late 1950s, over 1500 pike were tagged. From those pike which were tagged in 1957, 30% were found again over the next two and a half years. One pike was found as far as 11 miles away from the original tagging place. Only 15% had migrated more than 25 miles from the place they were tagged. In contrast, 35% were found only 0.3 -2.5 miles from the original spot, while the rest were still practically on the tagging location itself.

It was also documented that during the spawning season many pike moved to good spawning grounds 0.6-1.2 miles away. Some pike after being tagged were released into the other end of a deep fjord however none of these migrated back to the original place. Other studies have shown that the pike, like the salmon, make the use of smell when trying to orientate themselves. In Sweden, one has demonstrated with tagging experiments that in some cases, pike can migrate to spawning grounds which are over 12 miles from the areas where they usually stay.

Immediately after the pike fry is hatched, it attaches itself to underwater vegetation with help of sticky threads. After 9-10 days, the nutrition in the yolk-sack is consumed. The fry, which now is about 0.4 inches long, begins hunting on swimming plankton crayfish. Already from the beginning the pike uses its special hunting technique – hiding in the vegetation to wait for suitable prey to pass by. Later on, the pike fry begins to catch insect larvae, and when it is 0.8 -1.2 inches long, it also begins to eat other fish fry. When it reaches 1.2 inches in length, the fry spread out along the shore. During the late summer when the pike fry has become 4 inches long or greater it lives nearly exclusively on fish.
The pike’s nutrition varies from watercourse to watercourse, and also with the fish’s size. In lakes pike eat small fish in addition to large, so when fishing in waters where one knows that there are large pike, it can pay off to use large lures -likely 20-25 grams.

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Among the many features which demonstrates the pike is an effective predator, is the fact it has an extremely elastic stomach. It can be stretched out to nearly twice its normal size, while the circumference can increase to more than the double. A full pike stomach can be stretched until the skin is transparent, so one can see what it has eaten without cutting it open.

According to English experiments, an 8 -12 inch long pike needs a nutrition amount (fish) of 3.4 grams to gain 1 gram of weight. That means the food coefficient is 3.4. Food coefficient is the number of weight units that must be eaten for the fish to put on one corresponding weight unit. It has been concluded that pike under 2.2 lbs have a food coefficient of 10, while pike weighing more(depending on what kind of prey fish is available) it likely eats different kinds of roach fish and any other edible fish. No matter what body of water a pike lives, they can also eat other pike. Studies that have examined a pike’s stomach have found that 5-6% of its nutrition could be from other pike. It also happens that a pike may snatch a duckling or other swimming young birds, as well as water-rats and frogs. In some cases it is proven that a pike will eat crayfish, possibly because there is a shortage of other suitable fish. One common denominator which seems to be the case in the bodies of water a pike would live, is that the pike will mainly eat whichever fish species is most plentiful.

The fish which pike prey on can vary in size. Small pike likely catch fish which are in proportion to the pike’s own size.

It’s a fact that big than 11 lbs have a food coefficient of 30. It is clear that the food coefficient must be higher in cold water than warmer water. Therefore there has to be a certain difference when it comes to pike’s need for food in Canada vs. England. On the other hand, there are studies that indicate a pike’s food coefficient never exceeds 30. It reasons to believe that small pike under Canadian conditions need 4-7 grams of food to gain 1 gram of weight, while larger pike need 8-12 grams. Small pike transform the food they consume to pike meat significantly more efficiently than large pike.

With small pike, approx. 70% of the nutrition goes to growth, but with large pike, it’s only approx. 20%. Small pike, therefore, use less energy for movement, breathing and other functions that are necessary to live. Spawning and the preparations for spawning also demands a lot of energy.


In relation to other fish it shows that the pike make use of nutrition rather effectively. Something that contributes to this is that pike move relatively little amounts and one can see that demonstrated by the pike’s hunting technique, which consumes very little energy. In many places the pike is a very valuable fish because it transforms a lot of less edible fish to first class fish meat.

The food coefficient also shows that it is uneconomic to feed large pike if one wants to have the greatest possible return in fish meat. If pike are caught when they are 1.1 -2.2 lbs even when larger pike live in the water, one will have significantly larger return in pounds of fish than if the pike get the opportunity to grow a lot bigger. When it comes to inland fishing, however, it’s not just a question of how many pounds one gets in return. The watercourse’s value has to be measured for what significance it has for sport fishing. If the possibility to catch really big fish is something that matters it increases the value of a body of water.

Pike`s Nutrition

Immediately after the pike fry is hatched, it attaches itself to underwater vegetation with help of sticky threads. After 9-10 days, the nutrition in the yolk-sack is consumed. The fry, which now is about 0.4 inches long, begins hunting on swimming plankton crayfish. Already from the beginning the pike uses its special hunting technique – hiding in the vegetation to wait for suitable prey to pass by. Later on, the pike fry begins to catch insect larvae, and when it is 0.8 -1.2 inches long, it also begins to eat other fish fry. When it reaches 1.2 inches in length, the fry spread out along the shore. During the late summer when the pike fry has become 4 inches long or greater it lives nearly exclusively on fish.
The pike’s nutrition varies from watercourse to watercourse, and also with the fish’s size. In lakes pike eat small fish in addition to large, so when fishing in waters where one knows that there are large pike, it can pay off to use large lures -likely 20-25 grams.

Among the many features which demonstrates the pike is an effective predator, is the fact it has an extremely elastic stomach. It can be stretched out to nearly twice its normal size, while the circumference can increase to more than the double. A full pike stomach can be stretched until the skin is transparent, so one can see what it has eaten without cutting it open.

According to English experiments, an 8 -12 inch long pike needs a nutrition amount (fish) of 3.4 grams to gain 1 gram of weight. That means the food coefficient is 3.4. Food coefficient is the number of weight units that must be eaten for the fish to put on one corresponding weight unit. It has been concluded that pike under 2.2 lbs have a food coefficient of 10, while pike weighing more(depending on what kind of prey fish is available) it likely eats different kinds of roach fish and any other edible fish. No matter what body of water a pike lives, they can also eat other pike. Studies that have examined a pike’s stomach have found that 5-6% of its nutrition could be from other pike. It also happens that a pike may snatch a duckling or other swimming young birds, as well as water-rats and frogs. In some cases it is proven that a pike will eat crayfish, possibly because there is a shortage of other suitable fish. One common denominator which seems to be the case in the bodies of water a pike would live, is that the pike will mainly eat whichever fish species is most plentiful.

The fish which pike prey on can vary in size. Small pike likely catch fish which are in proportion to the pike’s own size.

It’s a fact that big than 11 lbs have a food coefficient of 30. It is clear that the food coefficient must be higher in cold water than warmer water. Therefore there has to be a certain difference when it comes to pike’s need for food in Canada vs. England. On the other hand, there are studies that indicate a pike’s food coefficient never exceeds 30. It reasons to believe that small pike under Canadian conditions need 4-7 grams of food to gain 1 gram of weight, while larger pike need 8-12 grams. Small pike transform the food they consume to pike meat significantly more efficiently than large pike.

With small pike, approx. 70% of the nutrition goes to growth, but with large pike, it’s only approx. 20%. Small pike, therefore, use less energy for movement, breathing and other functions that are necessary to live. Spawning and the preparations for spawning also demands a lot of energy.

In relation to other fish it shows that the pike make use of nutrition rather effectively. Something that contributes to this is that pike move relatively little amounts and one can see that demonstrated by the pike’s hunting technique, which consumes very little energy. In many places the pike is a very valuable fish because it transforms a lot of less edible fish to first class fish meat.
The food coefficient also shows that it is uneconomic to feed large pike if one wants to have the greatest possible return in fish meat. If pike are caught when they are 1.1 -2.2 lbs even when larger pike live in the water, one will have significantly larger return in pounds of fish than if the pike get the opportunity to grow a lot bigger. When it comes to inland fishing, however, it’s not just a question of how many pounds one gets in return. The watercourse’s value has to be measured for what significance it has for sport fishing. If the possibility to catch really big fish is something that matters it increases the value of a body of water.