Pike reproduce (spawn) in the spring. They are random spawners, broadcasting their eggs and milt over vegetation or bottom debris in shallow marsh areas and in flood plains. Unlike some other fish, such as bass or bullheads, pike build no nests and give no parental care to the eggs or young. The highly adhesive eggs stick to whatever they land on. Eggs hatch after eight to 15 days and the young have to fend for themselves. Within three to four weeks, young pike develop their carnivorous habits and will even begin eating other young pike.
The pike’s habit of spawning on flood plains can, at times, become a serious problem for its survival. Even slight decreases in the water level can result in the stranding and death of young. In certain areas, this factor limits the abundance of the species.
Fishing for Pike
Pike are among the most aggressive freshwater fish species available to anglers, readily striking both artificial lures and live bait. Pike fight hard when hooked and make a tasty meal. Fishing near weed beds, stumps, and drop-offs with spinners, spoons, plugs, and minnows often brings good results.
The larger members of the pike family, especially northern pike, muskellunge, and tiger muskellunge, provide good trophy fishing. But, whether you are ice fishing or fishing during midsummer, a heavy monofilament or wire leader is a worthwhile addition to your tackle. The pike’s sharp teeth can easily cut through light monofilament line. To save fingers, anglers will also find it helpful to bring along needle-nosed pliers to extract a hook from a pike’s mouth.
Six members of the pike family, some common, some not so common, are found in New York State’s waters: chain pickerel, red fin pickerel, grass pickerel, northern pike, muskellunge, and tiger muskellunge. While many New Yorkers refer to walleye as “walleye pike” or “yellow pike,” the walleye is actually a member of the perch family and so is not discussed here. Persons interested in finding more detailed descriptions for any member of the pike family can refer to the book, “The Inland Fishes of New York,” by C. Lavett Smith.