Iowa DNR
River & Stream Biological Monitoring
Fish and Benthic Macroinvertebrate Surveys
Physical Habitat Assessments

Northern Pike Esox lucius

Esocidae (Pikes and Mudminnows)
Trophic Class
Top Carnivore
Is Exotic to Iowa?
Is Lithophilous Spawner?
Is Hybrid?
State Listing Status
Not Listed
Assessment Program Statistics

This species was found at 84 bioassessment sites, 4 rapid fish bioassessment sites, 58 fisheries assessment sites, and 0 fisheries presence-only assessment sites. In total, it was collected at 143 distinct sites, or 9.8% of the 1459 total sites monitored by the bioassessment program. It is the 45th most commonly collected species.

The Northern Pike was collected in 139 bioassessment sampling sessions and 185 fisheries assessment sessions. It was present in 4 rapid bioassessment sessions and 0 presence-only sessions.

The biological assessment program has collected a total of 1,452 individual Northern Pike specimens, ranking it the #60 most collected fish.

Species Characteristics

An elongated fish with a long head, which is depressed forward into a pair of large duck-bill shaped jaws imbedded with many canine teeth. Body color varies, depending on the waters from which it is taken. It usually is bluish-green to gray on the back, and the markings on the sides are irregular rows of light yellow or gold spots. These little markings distinguish it from the Grass Pickerel and Muskellunge. The dorsal fin is far back on the body and has 16 to 19 soft rays. The cheeks are fully scaled, but the lower half of the opercle is scaleless. There are 14 to 16 branchiostegal rays in the membrane just below the gill cover. There is never more than 10 sensory pores along the undersides of the lower jaws. The lateral line has about 119 to 128 scales. This fish species reaches 3- to 4-feet long and weighs over 30-pounds. Fish weighing 10-pounds or more are fairly common in the larger lakes and rivers.

Species Distribution Maps

HUC12 watersheds where this species has been found