The northern pike, Esox lucius, is a carnivorous fish of brackish and freshwaters of the northern hemisphere. It is also known by the somewhat misleading folk-name, "water wolf". Northern pike are found throughout the northern hemisphere, including Russia, Europe, the British Isles, and North America. Northern pikes are most often olive, shading into yellowish or whitish on belly with short, light barlike spots on body and some dark spots on the fins. The lower half of their gill cover lacks scales and they have large pores on their head and lower jaw. Unlike the similar-looking muskellunge, the northern pike has light markings on a dark body background and less than six pores on the underside of its jaw.
Pike grow to a relatively large size: lengths of 150 cm and weight of 25 kg are not unheard of. The largest specimen so far was caught in an abandoned stone quarry, in Germany, in 1983. She was 147 cm (4.8 feet) (All pike over 8 kg are females.) long and weighed 30.5 kg (67 lbs). The longest pike was 152 cm (5 feet) long (weight 27.5 kg, 60.6 lbs).
Pikes are found in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places in lakes, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. The pike generally hides in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods, and is then capable of remarkable acceleration, sometimes propelling it a meter into the air (though it rarely leaves the surface). It catches its prey sideways with its sharp teeth, in order to kill it, before turning lengthwise to swallow. It eats mainly fish, but on occasion water voles and ducklings have also been known to fall prey to pike. It is moreover a cannibal and this cannibalism serves in maintaining stability in the pike population. Young pike have been photographed eating pike of a similar size. Northern Pike also feed on others of their kind, insects, and leeches. It has a tremendous appetite.
Fishing for pike is said to be very exciting with their explosive hits and aerial acrobatics. The pike are some of the biggest freshwater fish. While a worthy adversary for any rod and line fisherman, pike are often caught and released by fishermen since its flesh is bone-filled. However, the larger fish can be filleted, and pike have had a long and distinguished history in cuisine and are popular in Germany, with historical references to its cooking going back as far as the Romans. Pike have very white, mild flesh, and are considered among the best tasting freshwater fish. When eating pike, be sure to chew carefully, as their "y-bones" are not always easily visible.