Grass Pickerel
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Side view adult.
  • Top view adult.
  • Bottom view adult.
  • Head-on view adult.
  • Close-up flank.
  • Close-up head.
  • Close-up mouth and snout.
  • Close-up tail.
  • Close-up dorsal fin.
  • Close-up anal fin.
  • Close-up pectoral fin.
  • Close-up pelvic fin.
  • Close-up underside of head: There are usually 4 mandibular pores and 12 branchiostegal rays on each side.
  • Top view of head: The snout has a duck-bill shape.
  • Close-up underside head: There are usually 4 mandibular pores and 12 branchiostegal rays on each side of the chin.
  • The flank shows mottling and dark irregular bars.
  • Close-up of head: The cheek and the opercle are fully scaled and there is a bar/blotch under the eye.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: The flank shows a light lateral stripe with darker stripes above and below.
  • Side view of a young-of-year: The flank shows a light lateral stripe with darker stripes above and below.
  • Side view of four young-of-year of different size: The lateral stripes are replaced with mottling as size increases.
  • Grass pickerel (top), northern pike (bottom), both young-of-year: Notice the light lateral stripe in the pickerel, and the mottled side in the pike.
  • Close-up underside of head: Notice the branchiostegal rays.
  • Alternative view of the caudal region.
  • Alternative side view.
DescriptionSimilar Species
Family
Pikes (Esocidae)
Body
Mouth and snout: Duck-billed snout wiht terminal mouth; numerous conspicuous teeth in jaws. No barbels. Body patterning, color, and scales: Mottling and irregular blotches or numerous irregular oblique dark vertical bands or bars (but see Juveniles). Background color olive or yellowish brown, mottling/bars dark olive or green, belly cream or white. Fins yellowish-brown to olive. 97-118 (usually < 110) cycloid lateral scales. Body shape and size: Body elongate and cylindrical; in cross section approximately round. Typically 175-275 mm (7-11 in) TL; maximum in Wisconsin about 375 mm (15 in).
Fins
Tail, dorsal and other fins: Forked tail. Single dorsal with no spines and 12-13 principal rays. Pelvic fins abdominal. Adipose fin absent. Anal fin with 11-12 principal rays.
Distinguishing Characteristics
See similar species information.
Breeding Adults
Similar to non-breeders.
Juveniles
Small juveniles without mottling or bars and instead a light lateral stripe underlain and overlain by dark lateral stripes (top stripe faint except on head). Larger juveniles similar to adults.
Hybrids
Grass pickerel X Northern pike.
Compare Similar Species
Opercle and Cheek Scalation
MuskellungeOnly top portion of cheek and opercle scaled
Pickerel, GrassBoth fully scaled
Pike, NorthernCheek fully scaled, only top portion of opercle scaled
Mandibular Pores (Single Side of Jaw)
Muskellunge6-9
Pickerel, Grass4, rarely 3 or 5
Pike, Northern5, rarely 4 or 6
Branchiostegal Rays (One Side)
Muskellunge16-19
Pickerel, Grass10-14, usually 12
Pike, Northern14-16
Adult Color Pattern
MuskellungeEither solid light olive color or dark vertical bars (may be faint) or spots on light background; no bar below eye
Pickerel, GrassDark mottled or irregular dark vertical bars; dark vertical bar below eye
Pike, NorthernRegular rows of oval light spots on dark green background; no or faint bar below eye
Similarity Index
MuskellungeVery similar
Pickerel, GrassN/A
Pike, NorthernVery similar
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