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Pike, Fish

PIKE, FISH, fresh-water fishes generally distributed over the river? and lakes of Europe, northern Asia, and North America, and forming a small family (Esocidae) of soft-rayed fishes. They are readily recognized by their el ngate compressed body covered European Pike (Esox lucius).

with small scales, a long head, long and spatulate snout, and very large mouth armed with strong and long teeth in the jaws and broad bands of smaller teeth on the palate and tongue. The teeth point backwards or can be depressed so as to offer no obstruction to any object entering the gape, but prevent its withdrawal in the opposite direction. The dorsal and anal fins are placed far back on the tail, thus greatly increasing the propelling power of the fish, and, although pike are bad swimmers and lead rather a sedentary than a roving life, they are excelled by no other fresh-water fish in rapidity of motion when, by a single stroke of the tail, they dash upon their prey or dart . out of reach of danger. In the Old World one species only is known (Esox lucius), which prefers lakes and sluggish reaches of rivers to strong currents or agitated waters. Its eastward range in northern Asia is not known; it extends into Lapland in the north and into central Italy and the vicinity of Constantinople in the south, but is absent in the Iberian Peninsula. The European species occurs also in North America, and is common in the eastern United States southwards to northern Ohio. But North America is tenanted by other species of pike besides, of which the largest is the muskelunge or maskinonge of the Great Lakes (Esoxnobilior); it commonly attains to the large size which is exceptionally recotded of Esox lucius. The other American pike are ot smaller size, and generally named " pickerel "; but opinions as to the distinction oi the species differ widely among American ichthyologists. The European pike, like its brethren, is the most voracious of fresh-water fishes; it probably exceeds the shark, to which it has been compared by many writers, in the relative quantity of food it consumes. Large specimens will seize rats or water-voles, and are said to attack even foxes and small dogs. Individuals of from 40 Ib to 50 Ib are not scarce, but captures of much larger ones are on record. Pike are wholesome food, and much esteemed in inland countries the smaller (of 20 to 24 in. in length) being preferred to the larger individuals. They are prolific, and not easily exterminated in a water in which they have been once allowed to spawn. According to season and climate they spawn in April or May, and sometimes as early as February.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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