Pike are large carnivorous species of bony fish in the genus Esox in the family Esocidae. Pike occur in static and slowly flowing fresh-water habitats, throughout most of Europe, northern Asia, and North America.
Pike have a relatively long, streamlined, fusiform body, adapted to swimming in rapid bursts to catch their prey of smaller fish (including other pike), amphibians, crayfish, small mammals, and even ducklings. The fins of pike are soft-rayed, and the dorsal and ventral fins are sited relatively far back on the body. Pike have large mouths, with the jaw joint extending relatively far back on the head, commonly to behind the eye. The mouth is armed with numerous, needle-like teeth. Pike normally hunt by ambush-lying quietly in beds of aquatic plants or other cover until prey comes close, when it is seized by a rapid strike.
The largest individuals of northern pike (Esox lucius) are enormous animals from eastern Siberia, that weigh from 77-154 lb (35-70 kg—as much as an average human). More typically, adults of this species can weigh up to 33 lb (15 kg), but most weigh considerably less. The largest individual pikes are females, which may exceed 60 years of age.
Pike spawn in the spring in shallow water habitats. The largest females are also the most fecund, and can lay more than one million eggs.
The northern pike or jackfish (E. lucius) is the most widespread species in this family, occurring both in northern Eurasia and North America. Other species in North America include the chain pickerel (E. niger) and pickerel (E. americanus) of the east, the grass pickerel (E. verniculatus) of the central and southern parts of the continent, and the muskellunge (E. masquinongy) of the Great Lakes and nearby lakes, which can achieve a weight of 110 lb (50 kg). The Amur pike (E. reicherti) occurs in parts of central Siberia.
Pike of all species are considered to be valuable gamefish, and are avidly sought after by sport fishers. This is especially true of the larger species, particularly the northern pike and muskellunge.