If you’ve fished in the Georgian Bay area, you may have seen or heard of the northern pike. Northern pike are large fish that live in almost every lake and river in Ontario. They have a long oval body with a large flattened head and large teeth. Northern pike are dark green with yellow or white spots and yellow to white shading on their bellies. Pike can grow larger than 40 inches (1 meter) in Georgian Bay. That’s about the same length as a guitar!
Northern pike prefer to live in the weedy bays near the shorelines and islands of Georgian Bay. Shallow bays are home to smaller pike, but larger bays are home to big pike. Pike live in these areas because the weeds give them lots of places to hide when they are hunting for food. Pike eat many different things including smaller fish, bugs, crayfish, frogs, small water birds, and even muskrats. In the summer, when the water gets warmer, pike will move to cooler, deeper water.
Northern pike are in season for fishing on Georgian Bay (FMZ 14) from January 1st – March 1st, and May 1st – December 31st (inland lakes have slightly different dates, learn more here). The gap from March 2nd to April 31st allows the pike to spawn (lay eggs). Once May rolls around, anglers flock to the Bay to fish for pike, walleye, and more. Over the summer thousands of people grab their fishing gear and boats and come to the Bay. There are lots of great spots along Georgian Bay to fish for northern pike. Get outside and enjoy all that the Bay has to offer this summer!
Real or Fishy?
Can you guess which of these northern pike facts are true?
- The pike is named after a weapon
- Pike live in large groups
- Wild northern pike can live up to 50 years
- Northern pike can be cannibals
- True! “Pike” gets its name from its resemblance to a pole-like weapon known as a pike.
- False! Pike are very territorial fish, they typically aren’t found in large groups.
- False! That would be cool, but pike still live a relatively long time. Typically the northern pike lives 10-15 years but can live up to 25 years!
- True! Where there isn’t enough food around, larger pike will eat smaller pike.