Species image (Illustration Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

What it looks like

  • very large, elongated body
  • dark green to brown body with light, yellowish or white spots
  • dark back fades to creamy white belly
  • fully scaled cheek and partially scaled gill cover
  • 10 pores on underside of lower jaw
  • tips of tail fin more rounded than muskellunge


  • length: 45-75 centimetres (18-30 inches)
  • weight: 0.9-4.3 kilograms (2-9.5 pounds)
  • Ontario record: 19.1 kilograms (42.1 pounds)

Similar fish

How to tell the difference between northern pike and muskellunge

Where it is found

Range of the northern pike

Species distribution map (modified from Mandrak and Crossman, 1992)


  • widely distributed throughout most of the province
  • not historically found in parts of central Ontario but gradually expanding into these areas
  • use Fish ON-Line, an interactive mapping tool, to find specific lakes and rivers


  • vegetated bays, creek mouths and shoals of lakes where they can ambush prey
  • find deep water in the summer to avoid higher water temperatures, except in northern areas

Angling tips

  • aggressive feeders – can be caught year-round
  • bite all day, but morning and evening, when baitfish activity peaks, are best fishing times
  • medium-action rod and reel cover most situations
  • use strong leaders to prevent the pike’s sharp teeth from biting through the line
  • take almost any live or artificial bait, including very large streamer flies

Common baits

  • spoons, in-line spinners
  • crankbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits
  • topwater lures
  • live baits, including large chubs, suckers and shiners