Diet: – Pike consume large quantities of smaller fish – about 90 percent of their diet – but appear willing to supplement their diet with any living creature their enormous jaws can encircle, such as frogs, crayfish, waterfowl, rodents, and other small mammals.
What is fed to pike?
Pike – The pike (Esox lucius) is a species of freshwater fish that inhabits the entire northern hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Russia. It is highly sought after by anglers because it can grow very large and is renowned for its tenacious qualities when hooked.
The British record is held by Roy Lewis, who caught a 46lb 13oz pike from Llandegfedd Reservoir in Monmouthshire, Wales, in October 1992. In 1986, a pike weighing 55 pounds and one ounce was caught in Grefeern, Germany. This is the European record. Pike appear to have changed little since the discovery of pike fossils in the Cromer Forest fossil beds, which date back approximately 500,000 years.
The word pike appears to be derived from the French word for spear, “pique.” This provides insight into this predator’s hunting strategy. It will lie in wait among vegetation, using its olive and cream coloring as camouflage, before darting out in a burst of speed to capture its prey.
Occasionally, it will also move slowly while concealing itself with water plants until it is close enough to its intended prey. Everything about pikes screams “effective predator”! They have large, stout skulls with prominent, forward-facing eyes. Their long, flattened snout conceals a massive mouth with rows of reverse-facing, razor-sharp teeth.
The long body of the fish has fins positioned to maximize acceleration. Each pike has a unique set of markings that aid in camouflage while it hunts, similar to how humans have fingerprints. Pike consume fish (including other pike), frogs and toads, small mammals such as the water vole, as well as birds, most likely the young of waterfowl.
Pike have the unique behavior of capturing prey sideways in the mouth, immobilizing it with their sharp teeth, and then turning it headfirst to be swallowed with the aid of their sandpapery tongue. When water temperatures reach 9 degrees Fahrenheit, pike spawn. Several smaller males (males rarely exceed 10 pounds in weight) court the larger female, and the entire mating process can last several days.
Individuals can occasionally live for at least 25 years. Since, as a young boy, a friend and I discovered a massive pike swimming in a relatively small pond, I have always held this species in the highest regard. I resided close to the River Severn in Worcestershire, which frequently overflowed its banks and inundated vast tracts of farmland.
The floodwater had just receded, leaving this fish obviously stranded in the pond. My friend and I returned to the pond with landing nets, keep nets, sacks, boards, and other assorted fishing equipment, intent on capturing the fish and releasing it into the nearby river. Half an hour later, drenched to the skin, we determined that capturing the monster would be impossible.
At one point, we were on the verge of capturing the animal, but when it escaped, we were both quite startled by its sheer strength. (I believe it was a fish weighing 20 pounds) In addition, the water had become a murky soup, making it difficult to see the fish.
I seem to recall that we both agreed to leave this enormous pike alone, especially after the water became murky and we lost sight of it – our imaginations began to run wild! We did return later in the spring (with some bigger boys!) and finally captured the weakened fish, transporting it back to the main river a field or two away, its yellow-rimmed eyes staring at us angrily.
Clearly, Ted Hughes was an expert on pike, and I believe he also admired them. His magnificent poem, simply titled Pike, begins with these lines: Pike, three inches in length, perfect in all respects, green tigering gold. Killers hatched from the egg: a maliciously aged grin.
What is the most effective bait for pike?
WHAT DEAD BAITS ARE BEST? – Any species of large baitfish can be used as dead bait, although some baits are superior to others. The best dead baits for pike fishing are soft-rayed fish with an abundance of natural oil on their skin and flesh. These natural oils seep into the water and attract any pike that may be cruising in the vicinity.
- Smelt, alewives, small whitefish, chubs, and the ever-popular sucker are some of the most effective dead baits.
- Suckers are the easiest dead baits to find, as they are widely available at most bait shops.
- Suckers are typically sold alive, but some stores sell dead and frozen sucker minnows, particularly for pike fishing.
Simply drying live suckers with paper towels, separating them with a sheet of wax paper, and freezing half a dozen in a plastic bag is the best way to handle them. If minnows are frozen while wet or in contact, they tend to stick together and can be difficult to separate when it’s time to fish.
- Sucker minnows between 8 and 12 inches in length are ideal for fishing with dead bait.
- Smaller minnows will only entice non-target species and smaller pike to bite.
- Eep these baits frozen until you’re ready to use them, then allow them to partially thaw until they’re soft enough to insert a hook.
- Once in water, they will quickly soften.
Leftover bait can be refrozen and used for a subsequent fishing trip.