Esox lucius
Esox lucius
(Northern Pike)
Native Transplant
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Esox lucius Linnaeus, 1758

Common name: Northern Pike

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Scott and Crossman (1973); Pflieger (1975); Becker (1983); Page and Burr (1991).

Size: 133 cm.

Native Range: Atlantic, Arctic, Pacific, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River basins from Labrador to Alaska and south to Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Nebraska (Page and Burr 1991). Native to Montana in the South Saskatchewan River Drainage (Holton and Johnson 1996). 

US auto-generated map Legend USGS Logo
Alaska auto-generated map
Hawaii auto-generated map
Caribbean auto-generated map
Puerto Rico &
Virgin Islands
Guam auto-generated map
Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: This popular sport fish has been stocked in Alaska (Morrow 1980; M. Bell, personal communication; Little 2000, 2002; A.P. 2003; O'Harra 2005); Arkansas (Buchanan 1973; Pritchard et al. 1978; Cross et al. 1986); Arizona (Minckley 1973; Rinne 1995; Foust 2001); California (Smith 1896; Shebley 1917; Lampman 1946; Hubbs et al. 1979; Dill and Cordone 1997; Stienstra 2003); Colorado (Everhart and Seaman 1971; Propst and Carlson 1986; Rasmussen 1998; Tilmant 1999); Connecticut (Webster 1942; Behnke and Wetzel 1960; Schmidt 1986; Whitworth 1996); Georgia (Dahlberg and Scott 1971a); Iowa (Harlan et al. 1987); Idaho (Smith 1896; Chapman 1942; Lampman 1946; Linder 1963; Simpson and Wallace 1978; Wydoski and Whitney 1979; McMahon and Bennett 1996; American Fisheries Society, Idaho Chapter 2001); Illinois (Burr & Page 1986);  Kansas (Todd 1962; Polson 1964; Cross 1967; Cross et al. 1986); Kentucky (Clay 1975; Trautman 1981; Burr and Page 1986; Burr and Warren 1986; Hocutt et al. 1986); Maine (Kircheis 1994; Mallard 2003; Halliwell 2003; Boucher 2003); Massachusetts (Hartel 1992; Hartel et al. 1996; USFWS 2005); Maryland (Pritchard et al. 1978; Tilmant 1999; Starnes et al. 2011); Minnesota (Phillips et al. 1982); Missouri (Pflieger 1971, 1975, 1997; Cross et al. 1986); Montana (Brown 1971; Cross et al. 1986; Holton 1990; McMahon and Bennett 1996; Whitmore 1997; Madison 2003; Mann 2004; USFWS 2005); Nebraska (Jones 1963); Nevada (Deacon and Williams 1984; Insider Viewpoint 2001; Vinyard 2001); New Hampshire (Scarola 1973; Hartel et al. 1996); New Jersey (Fowler 1952; Stiles 1978; Soldwedel, personal communication); New Mexico (Sublette et al. 1990); New York (Kelly 2001); North Carolina (Pritchard et al. 1978; Menhinick 1991); North Dakota (Owen et al. 1981; Cross et al. 1986); Ohio (Trautman 1981; Hocutt et al. 1986; Burr and Page 1986); Oklahoma (Miller and Robison 1973; Pritchard et al. 1978; Cross et al. 1986); Oregon (Li, personal communication); Pennsylvania (Eddy and Underhill 1974; Denoncourt et al. 1975a; Hendricks et al. 1979; Cooper 1983; Hocutt et al. 1986); Rhode Island (Lapin, personal communication); South Dakota (Underhill 1959; Bailey and Allum 1962; Cross et al. 1986); Tennessee (Kuhne 1939; Etnier and Starnes 1993); Texas (Luebke 1978; Cross et al. 1986; Howells 1992a; Texas Parks and Wildlife News 1993; Anonymous 1994); Utah (B. Schmidt, personal communication; Tilmant 1999); Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986; Etnier and Starnes 1993; Stauffer et al. 1995; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994; Southwick, personal communication); Washington (McMahon and Bennett 1996; Fletcher, personal communication); West Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986; Stauffer et al. 1995); Wisconsin (Becker 1983); and Wyoming (Baxter and Simon 1970; Hubert 1994; Stone 1995; McMahon and Bennett 1996). McMahon and Bennett (1996) gave a map showing introduced populations in the northwest.

Means of Introduction: This species has been intentionally stocked as a sport fish in most areas. In some cases, introductions were illegal, and these include such sites as Coeur d'Alene Lake, Idaho; Keyhole Reservoir, Wyoming; and Beaver Creek Reservoir, Bitterroot River, and Flathead River, Montana (McMahon and Bennett 1996), and lakes in Alaska (Bell, personal communication). McMahon and Bennett (1996) gave a table of western reservoirs with introduced populations and the method of introduction for each one. First stocked in Arizona in 1967 (Rinne 1995). In addition to being stocked as a sport fish, Pflieger (1997) stated that Esox lucius was stocked in Missouri reservoirs to introduce a large predator that could more effectively prey on the large populations of carp and gizzard shad present in such artificial environments.

Status: Established in many localities. Extirpated in California (Hubbs et al. 1979).

Impact of Introduction: The piscivorous Northern Pike has been shown to significantly reduce prey density and has the potential to cause large-scale changes in fish communities, even resulting in species elimination (He and Kitchell 1990). A study conducted in Wisconsin showed introduced pike mostly affected four minnow species; redbelly dace Phoxinus eos, finescale dace P. neogaeus, fathead minnow Pimephales promelas, and brassy minnow Hybognathus hankinsoni. Pike apparently had less effect on other species in the pond (He and Kitchell 1990). Impacts can be either direct, such as by predation, or indirect, such as by causing prey fish to alter their behavior (He and Kitchell 1990). In Montana, Northern Pike commonly deplete their prey and become stunted (McMahon and Bennett 1996). A study conducted by T. Jones (University of Montana) in 1990, found Northern Pike eliminated most other fishes except for the pumpkinseed Lepomis gibbosus, which was likely protected by its deep body shape and stiff spines, making it difficult prey (McMahon and Bennett 1996). Northern Pike may be responsible for declines of native westslope cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi and bull trout Salvelinus confluentus in the Stillwater lakes in Montana (McMahon and Bennett 1996). Northern Pike are reported to be "a problem" in the Yampa River in Colorado (Whitmore 1997). Illegally stocked lakes in Alaska are home to unique populations of threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus. These populations have been isolated for 22,000 years and have evolved a number of striking phenotypic traits. The presence of nonindigenous pike in these same lakes threatens the stickleback's very existence (Bell, personal communication). Trapping in lakes where pike had not been stocked yielded sticklebacks and native salmonids. Trapping in adjacent lakes where pike had been stocked yielded nothing but pike (Bell, personal communication).  In Maine, the pike's presence in Pushaw Lake is suspected of destroying one of the state's premier landlocked salmon populations (Boucher 2003). The Pushaw Lake population may gain access to the Piscataquis River. Since the Northern Pike preys upon the Atlantic salmon, the populations of this and other native species may be threatened. The presence of Northern Pike, along with other introduced piscivores, reduced the richness of native minnow communities in Adirondack lakes (Findlay et al. 2000).

When Northern Pike are stocked in lakes containing native muskellunge E. masquinongy, the two species may hybridize. Although the male tiger muskellunge are sterile, females are often fertile and are capable of backcrossing (Becker 1983). Northern Pike are replacing native muskellunge in many Wisconsin lakes (Becker 1983). It is also believed that because Northern Pike generally spawn a month earlier than muskellunge, the older pike may prey on younger muskellunge (Gilbert, personal communication). This species has been documented to naturally hybridize with E. niger (Herke et al. 1990).

Remarks: Tyus et al. (1982) gave a distribution map of this species in the upper Colorado basin.

References: (click for full references)

Associated Press. 2003. State biologist on the hunt for non-native Kenai pike. Anchorage Daily News. October 24, 2003.

Bailey, R. M. and M. O. Allum. 1962. Fishes of South Dakota. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 119:1-131.

Baxter, G. T., and J. R. Simon. 1970. Wyoming fishes. Wyoming Game and Fish Department Bulletin 4, Cheyenne, WY. 168 pp.

Becker, G.C. 1983. Fishes of Wisconsin. University of Madison Press Madison, WI.

Boucher, D. 2003. Illegal fish stockings threaten Maine lakes and rivers. Available online at URL

Brown, C. J. D. 1971. Fishes of Montana. Montana State University, Bozeman, MT.

Buchanan, T. M. 1973. Key to the fishes of Arkansas. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Little Rock, AR. 68 pp., 198 maps.

Burr, B.M., and L.M. Page. 1986. Zoogeography of the fishes of the lower Ohio-upper Mississippi basin. Pages 287-324 in Hocutt, C.H., and E.O. Wiley, eds. The zoogeography of North American freshwater fishes. John Wiley and Sons. New York, NY.

Burr, B. M., and M. L. Warren, Jr. 1986. A distributional atlas of Kentucky fishes. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission Scientific and Technical Series 4. 398 pp.

Clay, W. M. 1975. The fishes of Kentucky. Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Frankfort, KY. 416 pp.

Cooper, E. L. 1983. Fishes of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, PA.

Cordone, A.J. - Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA. Response to NBS-G non-indigenous questionaire. 1992.

Cross, F. B. 1967. Handbook of Fishes of Kansas. State Biological Survey and University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Miscellaneous Publication 45, Topeka, KS.

Dahlberg, M. D., and D. C. Scott. 1971a. The freshwater fishes of Georgia. Bulletin of the Georgia Academy of Science 29:1-64.

Deacon, J. E., and J. E. Williams. 1984. Annotated list of the fishes of Nevada. Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 97(1):103-118.

Denoncourt, R. F., T. B. Robbins, and R. Hesser. 1975a. Recent introductions and reintroductions to the Pennsylvania fish fauna of the Susquehanna River drainage above Conowingo Dam. Proceedings of the Pennsylvania Academy of Science 49:57-58.

Eddy, S., and J. C. Underhill. 1974. Northern fishes, with special reference to the Upper Mississippi Valley, 3rd edition. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN.

Etnier, D. A., and W. C. Starnes. 1993. The fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

Everhart, W. H., and W. R. Seaman. 1971. Fishes of Colorado. Colorado Game, Fish and Parks Division, Denver, CO. 75 pp.

Findlay, C.S., D.G. Bert, and L. Zheng. 2000. Effect of introduced piscivores on native minnow communities in Adirondack lakes. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 57:570-580.

Foust, T. 2001. Fewer bass a concern at Parker Canyon Lake. Arizona Daily Star, Tucson.

Fowler, H. W. 1952. A list of the fishes of New Jersey, with off-shore species. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia CIV:89-151.

Harlan, J. R., E. B. Speaker, and J. Mayhew. 1987. Iowa fish and fishing. Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Des Moines, IA. 323 pp.

Hartel, K. E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1-9.

He, X., and J. F. Kitchell. 1990. Direct and indirect effects of predation on a fish community: a whole lake experiment. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 119:825-835.

Hendricks, M. L., J. R. Stauffer, Jr., C. H. Hocutt, and C. R. Gilbert. 1979. A preliminary checklist of the fishes of the Youghiogheny River. Chicago Academy of Sciences, Natural History Miscellanea 203:1-15.

Holton, G. D. 1990. A field guide to Montana fishes. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena, MT. 104 pp.

Holton, G. D. and H. E. Johnson. 1996. A field guide to Montana fishes, second edition. Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Helena, MT. 104pp.

Howells, R. G. 1992a. Annotated list of introduced non-native fishes, mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic plants in Texas waters. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Management Data Series 78, Austin, TX. 19 pp.

Hubbs, C. L., W. I. Follett, and L. J. Dempster. 1979. List of the fishes of California. California Academy Science Occasional Papers 133. 51 pp.

Hubert, W. 1994. Exotic fish. Pages 158-174 in T. L. Parrish, and S. H. Anderson, editors. Exotic species manual. Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Laramie, WY.

Insider Viewpoint. 2001. Fishing Records – Nevada. Insider Viewpoint Magazine. 3 pp.

Jenkins, R. E., and N. M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Jones, R.A. - Fisheries Bureau, Departments of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT. Response to NBS-G nonindigenous questionaire. 1992.

Jones, D. J. 1963. A history of Nebraska's fisheries resources. Dingell-Hohnson Federal Aid in Fish Restoration Project F-4-R Publication. Nebraska Game, Forestation and Parks Commission..

Kelly, J. M. 2001. Bait-bucket biology. Post Standard, Syracuse, NY. June 28, 2001.

Kircheis, F. W. 1994. Update on freshwater fish species reproducing in Maine. Maine Naturalist 2(1):25-28.

Kuhne, E. R. 1939. A guide to the fishes of Tennessee and the mid-South. Tennessee Department of Conservation, Nashville, TN. 124 pp.

Lampman, B. H. 1946. The coming of the pond fishes. Binfords and Mort, Portland, OR.

Lapin, W.J. - Dept. of Envir. Manag., Div. of Fish and Wildl., West Kingson, RI. Response to NBS-G nonindigenous questionaire. 1992.

Li, H. - Professor, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

Linder, A. D. 1963. Idaho's alien fishes. Tebiwa 6(2):12-15.

Luebke, R. W. 1978. Evaluation of a multi-predator introduction. Federal Aid Project F-31-R-4.

Madison, D. 2003. Outlaw Introductions. Montana Outdoors. July/August 2003. p 26-35.

Mallard, B. 2003. Invasive species: Life after Sebago. Kennebec Journal. August 27, 2003.

McMahon, T. E., and D. H. Bennett. 1996. Walleye and northern pike: boost or bane to northwest fisheries? Fisheries 21(8):6-13.

Menhinick, E. F. 1991. The freshwater fishes of North Carolina. North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. 227 pp.

Miller, R. J., and H. W. Robison. 1973. The fishes of Oklahoma. Oklahoma State University Press, Stillwater, OK.

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Page, L. M., and B. M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

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FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 7/22/2015

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2018, Esox lucius Linnaeus, 1758: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 7/22/2015, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 3/18/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/18/2018].

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