- According to the Guinness World Records, the largest pike ever caught weighed 67.48 pounds and was 5.29 feet long. Louie Spray caught it on July 24, 1949, in the Chippewa Flowage at Hayward in Wisconsin.
- There are seven recognized species of pike, which can be found in North America, Siberia, Western Europe, and North Asia. They are one of the most commonly fished genera in the world.
- Catching pike isn’t easy. When reeling in pike, do so slowly, but with a firm, strong hand as they are fast, powerful swimmers and will try to get away.
Pike is a genus of freshwater fish. We commonly know these fish as pikes or pickerels. When someone refers to a pike, they typically mean the Northern pike fish. They are an old species of fish with origins in North America and Eurasia since the Paleocene, about 60 million years ago.
Modern-day pike fish are distributed throughout the world. They are one of the most commonly fished genera in the world. You can find these impressive fish in North America, Siberia, Western Europe, and North Asia. These fish also grow very large — are you ready to find out just how big? Keep reading to discover the largest pike ever caught!
There are currently seven recognized species with unique appearances. For example, the American pickerel has two subspecies, the redfin pickerel, and the grass pickerel. These fish are found in the St. Lawrence drainage in Quebec, Mississippi, Florida, Ontario, Michigan, and Texas. Southern pike though is distributed throughout central and northern Italy and parts of France and Switzerland. The chain pickerel is from southern Canada to Florida and the Atlantic Northeast in Maine, New Hampshire, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Size and Appearance
Since there are seven subspecies, it’s hard to describe their appearance. However, most pike fish have long torpedo-like bodies which is a common body type for predatory fishes. They also sport pointed heads and sharp teeth. Most pike fish are brown or grey-green with dark stripes along their back. Their coloration provides camouflage while swimming underwater and hiding in underwater weeds. These fish grow rather quickly, easily reaching 6 feet long and 77 pounds heavy.
It’s not surprising to know that pike fish eat a lot to sustain their weight. They aren’t picky eaters and consume a wide range of food like smaller shoal fish. When food supplies are low, they eat insects and amphibians, most commonly newts, frogs, mice, and moles. While not as common, some pike fish prey on water snakes. Some species, including the northern pike, are cannibalistic and prey on smaller and younger pike. Interestingly, while they are predatory fish, they aren’t overly aggressive. Instead, they have bad reputations and rarely bite or attack humans.
It’s hard to imagine that these large predatory fish have predators themselves. The most common predators are anglers that seek large pike fish on purpose. Other than fishermen, there aren’t many predators except for the occasional bear or dog attack. Sometimes when pike are too close to the shore, they are perfect meals for larger mammals. Instead, young pike fish and eggs are at risk. Otters, small fish, and aquatic birds commonly feast on young pike fish and eggs.
The Largest Pike Ever Caught
Pike fish have a reputation for being aggressive, and they really look the part! The largest species of pike is the muskellunge, also known as a muskie or musky. This fish has an unusual name. It’s thought that its name comes from the word “maashkinoozhe” which translates to “ugly pike” in the Ojibwa language. According to the Guinness World Records, the largest pike ever caught in the world weighed an impressive 67.48 pounds. It also measured 5.29 feet long. The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) verified that Louie Spray in the Chippewa Flowage at Hayward in Wisconsin, USA caught the large fish on 24 July 1949. Over 60 years later no one has come close to beating this record pike!
Where Is the Chippewa Flowage Located on a Map?
The Chippewa Flowage is found in Hunter, Wisconsin, adjacent to Lake Chippewa, Scott Lake, and Rice Lake, as well as many campgrounds and resorts in the area.
Tips and Tricks on How to Catch a Pike
Catching pike is not easy. They are fast swimmers and stay away from humans despite their aggressive reputation. However, when a lucky angler catches a pike, that’s when the difficulty begins. Expert anglers recommend using different baits including live and artificial to attract their attention. The hook also needs to be sharp and thick enough to get lodged inside of their mouths. When reeling in the large pike fish, do so slowly, but with firm strength as they are powerful swimmers and will try to get away.
If you are lucky and reel in a large pike, your job isn’t over yet. It’s important you wear special gloves, so you aren’t bitten or cut by the pike. They have sharp razor-like teeth and will try to protect themselves. After you unhook the pike, you can either release them or make some delicious plans! Did you know pike cuisine is fairly popular? You can cook pike fish by grilling, baking, or frying it. However, be careful because they have very tiny bones. A common dish that uses pike is pike dumplings.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © bekirevren/Shutterstock.com
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.