How Smart Are Pike Fish?

Written by Patrick in Fishing
Image Credits: Pixabay.com

When I was researching Northern Pikeminnow recently, I started to wonder how these fish are able to catch so many prey and avoid so many fishermen that are trying to catch them for sport.

So, I did some more reading to find out how smart Northern Pikeminnow fish really are.

How Smart Are Pike Fish? Northern Pikeminnow are very smart and exercise their intelligence in almost everything they do. Aside from being avid and precise hunters, they are able to position themselves to their own advantage in doing so.

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The Northern Pikeminnow is a rather interesting fish that has a few tricks up its sleeve when it comes to hunting and self defense. If you’re just as curious as me to find out more details about the smarts of the Northern Pikeminnow, you’re in luck. 

This quick guide will fill you in on everything that’s going on in the Northern Pikeminnow’s mind.

How Smart is a Northern Pikeminnow?

As it turns out, the Northern Pikeminnow is actually a very tricky fish. Most people would never expect them to have any intelligence due to their negative track record in their environments, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Northern Pikeminnow Intelligence:

  • Stay in the most convenient areas of water
  • Position themselves strategically for hunting
  • Disguise themselves among similar looking fish
  • Put up a fight when caught with fishing lines

The Northern Pikeminnow exercises its intelligence in many ways, from catching its prey more easily and effectively to staying out of the way of fishing lines and fighting to stay in the water.

There is a reason why Northern Pikeminnow stay in slow-moving streams, rivers, and lakes over areas with a stronger current. You will most likely find these fish lurking in the still areas of the water, with the current moving toward them.

This way, they will be able to stay in the same position and be ready to catch any kind of food that comes down the stream right into its mouth. Instead of moving with the fast speeds of the stream or river, they remain very stable and are ready to attack when the opportunity presents itself.

How Northern Pikeminnow Outsmart Their Prey:

  1. Hide out in the areas where the water direction changes
  2. Take position in places with still water
  3. Wait for their prey to swim downstream into their path
  4. Strike and eat

Their strategic positioning in their natural habitat is used to their advantage, and makes the act of hunting and eating extremely convenient. 

Northern Pikeminnow are known to hunt for and eat almost anything that is available, so the fact that they don’t do much work to obtain their meals is to their benefit.

How Northern Pikeminnow Avoid Fishing Lines:

  • Blend in with similar fish
  • Struggle with fisherman when caught

While it is true that fishing for Northern Pikeminnow is a very desirable activity due to the cash rewards that come with removing them from water bodies, catching one of these fish is anything but easy.

The ability to catch enough Northern Pikeminnow to turn a substantial profit from bounty fishing requires a lot of calculation and skill. 

Even when you are able to lure them to your line, they will certainly put up a fight before being captured for good.

Pikeminnow have a silvery appearance on the outside of their scales, which can make them easily blend in with similar fish such as salmon, trout, and bass.

This can cause the fisherman on the other end of the rod to confuse them with a more harmless fish or just reel in something that they didn’t expect to catch.

With the potential to grow up to two feet long in size and almost 10 pounds in weight, easy would not be the word to describe reeling in a giant Northern Pikeminnow. 

Using all of their weight and strength, they do not make it easy for their captors once they realize they are being hunted.

Northern Pikeminnow

The Northern Pikeminnow, formerly known as the Squawfish, is an aggressive predatory fish that lives in shallow streams and lakes with slow-moving water. 

Geographically, Northern Pikeminnow can be found in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

They are carnivorous fish, and commonly prey on smaller fish, salmon eggs, insects, and even some of their own kind if necessary.

Pikeminnow will eat almost anything they can sink their teeth into, including floating trash and pieces of plastic.

Their favorite food that is included in their diet is salmon and trout smolt. Smolt are juvenile fish that have not yet grown to their full size. They are relatively small and have shiny silver scales.

To the Pikeminnow, smolt are a tasty treat, and account for almost 80 percent of their diet as a whole.

This causes the fish to become a threat to fishermen who have their eyes on the salmon and trout, because they get rid of them before they can grow to a size that is desirable for catching and distributing.

Due to the high mortality rates that Northern Pikeminnow inflict on the more desirable gamefish, fishing agencies have made efforts to try to get rid of them completely in these bodies of water.

As a result, they offer monetary compensation to fishermen who catch and remove these pests from the lakes and rivers, helping to increase the dying population of the gamefish.

Northern Pikeminnow are classified as non-gamefish, meaning that they are not as desirable to catch than other species of fish. While they are edible, most people in the fishing community have sworn against eating them due to the unpleasant taste and presence of too many sharp bones that aren’t immediately visible.

In other words, these fish basically have no use or offer any real value to humans like the alternative species of fish that survive around them. Northern Pikeminnow are viewed as a problem in fishing communities, and cause more problems than they solve in the bodies of water in which they live.

In conclusion, the Northern Pikeminnow is a much smarter fish than most people will give them credit for. With very calculated tactics for both hunting and self defense against fishing lines, they are able to navigate their way through their habitats and thrive in their natural environment.

After all, there is a reason why fishermen and fishing agencies fear these tricky creatures so much and strive to limit the population.

How Many Smolt do Pikeminnow Usually Consume in a Day?

Pikeminnow Daily Smolt Consumption:

  • Average Adult: Up to 6
  • Largest Adult: Up to 15

While it is true that the adult pikeminnow fish that have reached the highest capacity in length and weight have the ability to eat up to 15 salmon smolt in one day, this is not the case for the average sized adult pikeminnow.

In comparison to the extremely high statistic of 15 smolt a day, a pikeminnow of regular size will eat up to 6 smolt throughout an average day, among other things. 

This number will fluctuate depending on a variety of factors, including the age and size of the pikeminnow.

This average is significantly lower for young pikeminnow that are still in their first stages of development, as they will usually consume smaller insects and larvae that float around in the water during their first phases of life.

Almost 80 percent of a Pikeminnow’s diet consists of salmon and trout smolt, which is a very high number. Whether they eat less than a dozen smolts per day or almost 20 of them, these small fish still account for more than half of what a Pikeminnow will eat throughout their lives.

In conclusion, the Pikeminnow fish is a predator of smaller salmon and trout fish, along with anything else they can find.

Depending on the size and stage of development of each pikeminnow, they have the potential to consume over a dozen smolt in just one day alone. 

However, the average smolt consumption for most Pikeminnow will come in under 6.

If the Pikeminnow’s smolt consumption is a topic that has sparked your curiosity just like it has mine, hopefully you gained all of the information you needed to know after reading this article.

Related Questions

Can you eat Northern Pikeminnow?

While it is true that Northern Pike is able to be safely consumed, most people prefer to leave this fish alone. Due to the distinct and unpleasant taste that comes with this aquatic creature, those who are experienced in fishing will stay away from eating Pike. However, it is edible and can be eaten at the fisherman’s discretion.

What do Northern Pikeminnow taste like?

With so much controversy surrounding the topic of eating pikeminnow, there are several different opinions about the taste and texture. Some have compared it to tasting like catfish, while others described it as something similar to chicken liver. The most common complaint about this fish is the amount of sharp bones throughout it.

How much money can be made by bounty fishing for Northern Pikeminnow?

In the same year, one fisherman made almost $120,000 from just catching Northern Pikeminnow alone in the year 2016. Just one year later, another fisherman caught over $80,000 worth of Pikeminnow in a period of 5 months. With no limit of how many qualifying Pikeminnow can be caught in one day, the earning possibilities are endless.

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Author Bio
Patrick Author BonfireBob

My name is Patrick, and I am the main Author and owner of BonfireBob.com

I live in a smaller town, very close to a bigger city and I love the Outdoors!

BonfireBob is my outlet, and my escape from the every day lives. I write about fishing, hiking, climbing, gear, camping and much more, enjoy!

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