' Born again predator ' an apt description for a creature that has neither changed in appearance nor habit over thousands of years.
When and where does it all begin ?
Spawning takes place any time between February and April dependant upon temperature,Southern pike may spawn long before their Northern counterparts which often suffer low temperatures well into spring,on occasion spawning as late as July.
Both male and female pike migrate to the spawning beds covering great distances and many miles seeking shallow water rich in vegetation and which warms quickly under the pale winter sun.
Marginal water,flooded islands,reed beds,weedy areas and ditches are all favourable areas in which the hen pike will spawn.
Vegetation is essential to the spawning process ..
Late-spring and most aquatic weed is dormant or at the very least in the throes of first growth.The pike's eggs are sticky and cling to weed.However in the excitement of their reproductive process the females are none too particular on which surface their eggs are laid.
Herbaceous land vegetation lying underwater or flooded areas are prime nursery areas for fry.
Bare areas of water can be made more attractive to and encourage pike to spawn by introducing fir or broom branches into the shallows.
The female followed by several cock fish will disperse her eggs over a wide area of carefully chosen ground.A place where there is minimal chance of the water levels dropping in clear water,a film of silt over the eggs created by spawning disturbances will simply suffocate the eggs.
Hatching occurs over a period of only a few days up to several weeks,warmer water denotes quick hatching and in colder climates the process is considerably longer.
The fry remain attached to the grasses or woody stems on which their eggs were deposited for twelve days.
At this point the egg yolk/sac has been absorbed by the fry and they are now free swimming feeding on zooplankton.Developing fast their attention soon turns to insect larvae and other micro-invertebrates.
At two to three months of age the young pike are now fully fledged fish eaters at a period prior to resident prey fish spawning..Cannibalism thins out the weaker pike.
Twelve month of age now reaching 15 inches in length and yet to reproduce,the youngster will gain weight and grow to heavyweight proportions very quickly.
From this point on gaining 2lbs per body weight within twelve months,the following year 4 lbs are gained within the year and so on.
By the age of six of seven years old the elusive 20 lber !