Estimated pike Esox lucius recruitment varied by a factor of 16 for females from 1944 to 1991 and by a factor of 27 for males from 1943 to 1990 in Windermere, a temperate, mesotrophic U.K. lake. No significant stock–recruitment relationships were found, but analysis with general additive models (GAMs) revealed that early autumnal water temperature, strength and direction of the North Atlantic Oscillation displacement (corresponding to different climatic conditions in winter) and zooplankton abundance but above all, late summer water temperature were important explanatory variables over the entire time series. Female recruitment was also influenced by young-of-the-year winter temperature. There was no evidence that perch Perca fluviatilis year-class strength, lake level or the summer position of the Gulf Stream influenced recruitment. The fitted models explained up to c. 65% of the overall observed variation between years.