The spawning season of the pike is a spectacular period. The pike becomes very active and eats almost everything that becomes on his way. That´s because it is necessary to restore the weight and energy lost in winter. Keep in mind that fishing for pike is prohibited during its spawning period. So before you go out for fishing in spring, check your fisheries law, if there are any restrictions. In the following post I will write about when do pike spawn, where does pike usually go for spawning and what happens in that period in general.
Where do pike spawn?
After the ice has melted, at water temperatures around 3-6 °C, pikes come to spawn in shallow water. They feel comfortable in flooded marshes, streams and ditches. First come the smallest, then the middle ones and finally the big ones arrive. The female swims in front and usually 2-4 (sometimes even more) males follow. The male ones try to push themselves against the sides of the female, swimming a half body length behind. The interesting thing is that the dorsal fins and the backs of the fish extend out of the water while doing their procedures, it´s quite a spectacular sight to see.
After female pikes have found a suitable place, they start the spawning process. They start rubbing themselves against dead meadow vegetation, shrubs, stumps and lay their eggs there. After that the male fish has to fertilize the eggs. It´s a spectacular sight to see again – many pikes are jumping out of the water during this process. The spawning usually lasts 3-4 weeks. If it´s colder spring, it may last longer, even until the beginning of June. High water level helps spawning. In shallow-water spring, a large proportion (up to half) of pike may not spawn due to lack of good spawning places.
What happens after the spawning?
The pike eggs are light yellow in colour. They are quite big – diameter 2,2 – 2,8 mm. That is why there usually isn´t much of it (20 – 40 eggs). The eggs incubate for 12 – 25 days, depending on the water temperature. The hatched little pikes are 6-10 mm long. In the first days the newborns are stationary and close to the vegetation. After a couple of days they start moving around and looking for food. As early as 1.5 – 2 cm in length, they can start catching other smaller fish. In 3 – 4 weeks they are 2,5 – 4 cm in length.
Newborn pikes become predators really soon, although in the first months of life, it mainly eats zooplankton, larvae and other aquatic invertebrates. Then the most abundant and easily caught fish as the main food. The most intensive feeding is in the spring after spawning and in the second half of summer. Eats only a little in winter.