Pike, or Esox Lucius, L. an exceedingly bold and voracious fish, inhabiting most of the lakes of Europe, and likewise the ditches in the vicinity of the Thames, as well as the shallow water of the tens in Lincolnshire. This fish sometimes grows to a prodigious size ; measuring two yards in length ; weighing from 25 to 40lb. and living to the age of 100 years.
Pikes indiscriminately feed on fish, devouring their own species, as well as frogs, aquatic rats, the carcasses of other animals,and even swallowing young ducks alive, from the element on which they swim ; nay, occasionally contending with the otter tor its prey.—They cast their spawn in March or April, according to the mildness of the weather; and,while in high season, are variegated with beautiful green, yellow, and red colours ; but, when these tints change, the fish are of inferior quality.—There is a peculiar method of taking the pike, practised, both in Lincolnshire and the island of Ceylon, by means of a crown-net, which is formed of a semi-circular basket, open at both ends. The sportsman, being provided with a small fen-boat, frequently immerses the machine to the bottom of the water; then with a pole ascertains, by the striking of the fish, whether he has been successful : by this simple expedient, great numbers of them are taken. It is farther stated, that pikes are often haltered in a noose, and thus secured while asleep, in the ditches near the Thames.
The method of angling for pike, is similar to that pursued for PercH (which see) ; but, in this case, the line should be very strong, with a large Kirby pike-hook, fastened with gimp, which is far preferable to wire. The hook may be baited with a middle-sized roach, or a dace, gudgeon, small carp, or tench.
From its voracious disposition, the pike is a destructive inhabitant of fish-ponds; though, while young, it may be usefully employed among large carps, in order to exterminate frogs, snakes, and small fish of inferior value.—Bechstetn observes, that the carp and tench are the only fish which are not persecuted by this water-wolf.
The River-pike affords an excellent dish, and is far preferable to those caught either in the lakes, or at sea. Its flesh is firm, though short; and, if properly dressed, resembles boiled veal, more than any other fish : it is in season during the winter, and may be eaten with safety, both by the invalid and robust ; as, contrary to the nature of animals preying upon others, it is equally mild and nutritious.