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Northern Pike

Northern PikeScientific Name

Esox lucius

Other Common Names

pike, pickerel, jackfish


Member of the pike family (Esoxidae). A long, lean body, generally olive or dark green above fading to a light olive or gray-green to yellowish-green then to white on its belly. Its sides have light yellowish bean-shaped spots the length of its body. Strongly toothed jaws have teeth arranged in rows, plus rows of teeth located on its tongue and palate; they angle inward so its prey cannot get loose. Cheek is fully scaled, gill cover is only half scaled.

Best Fishing

Lakes: Orange, Occoquan, Motts Run, and Arrowhead (Page)

Fishing Techniques

Still-fishing with large minnows or other baitfish, or casting or trolling with large spoons, spinner-bucktails or crankbaits.

Feeding Habits

Eats other fish, including minnows of all sizes, suckers, shad, and yellow perch. Will take fish almost its own size on some occasions. Pike also feeds on amphibians, invertebrates, birds and any terrestrial animals that blunders into the water.


Non indigenous to Virginia, they are found in shallows in spring and fall, around weed beds. In summer they seek out deeper waters near drop-offs, but seldom below 35 ft. They may move up creek arms or around underground springs where there is cooler, moving water.

Spawning Habits

Spawns early in spring. Females broadcast adhesive eggs, which are fertilized as they drop to the bottom vegetation. Eggs are abandoned and hatch in 2 to 3 weeks. Young attach to vegetation by means of a suction cup-like appendage on the top of its snout.