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  Family Esocidae  

Family Esocidae--Pike Family

Pikes are distinguished by their green body, yellow eye, duckbill-like snout, cycloid scales, forked caudal fin and dorsal and anal fins located far back on the body. Pikes are large, predatory fishes.

grass pickerel -- Esox americanus
The gill cover and cheek of this fish are covered with scales. The dark bar underneath the eye is slanted toward the rear. The pickerel lives in lakes, swamps, sloughs and the sluggish sections of streams where the water is generally clear, little current is present and vegetation is abundant. The grass pickerel hunts by ambush, rushing from its hiding place to capture fishes, insects and crayfish. Spawning occurs in late February through early March. The eggs are scattered over vegetation. Four years seems to be the maximum life span for a grass pickerel in which time it may reach 15 inches in length.

northern pike -- Esox lucius
The northern pike has a cheek that is fully scaled, but a gill cover that is scaled only on the upper half. Rows of yellow bean-shaped spots are present on the back and sides. This fish lives in lakes, reservoirs and large streams, preferring areas of abundant vegetation and slow current. A predator, it eats primarily fishes and may grow to over four and one-half feet in length. Spawning occurs in early spring, with eggs scattered over vegetation. Under natural conditions, the northern pike may live for about 10 years and reach a length of about 30 inches. muskellunge--Esox masquinongy [extirpated, but transplanted]

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