Difference Between Pike and Pickerel

By: | Updated: Jul-10, 2021
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Pike and pickerel are two types of fish that look very similar. Both of them have pointed snouts, and they both have a hard time swallowing their prey. They also have several similarities when it comes to their diet. However, there are some differences between the two types of fish that are worth mentioning. Some people have no idea what makes pike and pickerel so different. So what are the other differences between pike and pickerel?

The article will focus on the pike and pickerel, the difference between pike and pickerel, their habitat, and the life cycle of the two types of fish.

Summary Table:

Pike Pickerel
Belongs to the genus Esox lucius Belongs to the genus esox niger
The body is streamlined to enable it to move quickly through water and capture prey easily Has a more robust body


Difference Between Pike and Pickerel

What is a pike?

A pike is a type of fish that has a long, pointed snout. It is a predatory fish and it eats other fish. Pike are found in the northern hemisphere and they are very aggressive. They will attack anything that moves near them. This includes people, as they will jump out of the water to attack people on boats. Pike live in cold water (generally in lakes or ponds) and they are usually found in groups with other pikes. Pike do not eat every day, but when they do eat, they can eat up to two-thirds of their body weight. Pike like to be in deep water, so they have trouble seeing prey when it is above them. Instead of chasing prey around, they wait for it to come down into their area and then strike it with lightning speed.

What is a pickerel?

A pickerel is another type of fish that lives in the northern hemisphere (mostly North America). It eats insects and smaller fish and is known for its jumping ability. A pickerel can jump out of the water over 2 meters high. They are usually silver colored with vertical black stripes running down their sides. They are about the same size as a pike.

What is the habitat of pike and pickerel?

As mentioned above, pike and pickerel live in freshwater lakes, ponds, or rivers in the northern hemisphere. They prefer cold water (50-75 degrees Fahrenheit) but they can live in warmer water as well. Pike like to be in deep water where they can hunt for food while still being able to see their prey above them. Pike are usually found in groups of 5-20 fish, but they have been known to gather together in large schools (more than 100 fish). They will also travel long distances to find food. Pickerel live near the shore where they can hunt for insects and smaller fish with their jumping ability. Pickerel usually stay around 6 feet deep but can go deeper if necessary.

Can we eat pike and pickerel?

We can eat pike and pickerel. Pike is very popular in Europe where it is known as “Esox lucius”. In the United States, we do not eat pike very often because it is very bony. Pike is good for eating because it contains a lot of omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon). Pickerel is also good for eating. It is known as “Esox americanus” in Europe and “Esox niger” in North America. Pickerel tastes like pike but has a slightly milder flavor.

Pike Vs. Pickerel:

There are many differences between a pike and a pickerel. Some of them are:

1. Their body structure:

The body structure of a pike is streamlined to enable it to move quickly through water and capture prey easily. The pickerel, on the other hand, has a more robust body.

2. Their life cycle:

Pike has a complex life cycle. The female pike lays her eggs in the spring, after which they are fertilized by the male pike. The eggs are left to hatch in their natural environment. When they hatch, the young pike fry eat plants and small animals such as insects and worms. As they grow, they continue to feed on larger prey such as frogs and small fish.

Pickerel, on the other hand, has a simpler but similar life cycle. They spawn in the spring and summer. The eggs are laid on the bottom of a pond or lake and hatch in four to six weeks. The young pickerel also eat small insects and crustaceans and later move on to larger prey such as frogs and small fish.

3. Their diet:

Pike eats fish, frogs, insects and other small animals. A pickerel can eat both plants and animals. The pickerel also eats crayfish, clams, worms and small fish.

4. Their size:

The pike is larger than the pickerel. The average size of a pike is about 60 to 90 cm, while the average size of a pickerel is about 30 to 50 cm.

5. Their behavior:

Pike is more aggressive than the pickerel. The pike will attack prey with a sudden lunge and can easily snap the spine of a fish with its powerful jaws. The pickerel, on the other hand, is not as aggressive as the pike.

6. Their defense:

The pike has a hard covering called an “armored” body. This covering protects it from attacks by predators such as otters and eagles. The pickerel, on the other hand, has a thinner covering that does not protect it from predators as much as the pike.

7. Their taste:

The pike is tastier than the pickerel. It is commonly eaten by humans and is a good source of protein. It tastes like a combination of chicken and trout, and is not as oily as the pickerel.

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