The biology of pike, Esox lucius L., in a southern eutrophic lake



The biology of pike, Esox lucius L., in a southern productive lowland lake is described. Scales and opercular bones were difficult to read and interpret, and growth estimated had perforce to be based on scale readings. Growth of Slapton pike is average and intermediate between recorded extremes. Both male and female pike reached maximum condition in February, just prior to spawning. The population of pike of over 450 mm fork length in the lake was estimated at 870·6 ± 389·3 in 1975, and 950·4 ± 143.3 in 1976/77. This leads to the conclusion that the pike population has one of the highest biomasses per surface area of water ever recorded. Number of pike per unit area of surface was also high, despite the fact that a significant proportion of the population (fish under 450 mm) could not be adequately sampled. Mean instantaneous mortality rate was 0·53, and mean instantaneous survival rate was 0·59. The roach provided the main item of diet of the pike, with perch taken less readily. Immature pike ate a significant proportion of invertebrates, but roach was again a common feature of the diet of even small fish. Two spawning migrations were identified; at other times of the year, pike were non territorial. The majority of pike spawned in March. Fecundity of a sample of females was assessed. Overall sex ratio was 1:1.