Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter

Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter
Eric Engbretson Underwater Photography

Select Science­—Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer? Are daily activity periods similar between these two seasons? Research conducted in a German lake contrasted movements and habitat choice of pike, using the same tagged individual fish radio-tracked during four 24-hour periods in midsummer and midwinter.* The study was conducted on a 62-acre lake about 50 miles northeast of Berlin. The natural lake, Kleiner DÖllnsee, has an average depth of 13 feet and a maximum depth of about 25 feet. About 14 percent of its surface area was covered by emergent vegetation such as Phragmites, or common reed, and cattails, and 27 percent of the lake bottom contained submergent vegetation such as pondweed and coontail.

During summer trackings in July, average water temperature was about 70°F. Winter tracking occurred in February, with the lake completely ice covered by the beginning of January. Submerged vegetation began to disappear from the water column, laying over on the lake floor, in mid-October.

Pike were found to be more active in summer, with activity peaks in twilight periods, while no pronounced daily activity peaks were found in winter. In summer, pike selected areas of submerged vegetation and negatively selected open water (areas deeper than about 13 feet). Pike chose habitats significantly closer to shore in winter, negatively selecting shallow open water, and also avoiding deeper open water. Average distance to shore was higher in summer than winter. Larger pike generally had greater movement and used areas farther from shore.

The researchers found that during the dusk activity peak in summer, pike were also farther from shore, suggesting diel “horizontal” movement patterns, possibly due to pike following prey using various depths from shallow to deeper open water throughout the day.


While pike used certain areas with submergent vegetation in summer, those locations lost their attractiveness in winter as the vegetation withered and settled on the lake bottom, the researchers found. Decaying plants and those laying over on bottom, however, were more attractive to pike than shallow open water in winter. The researchers say these findings suggest pike favored areas with some form of plant cover, regardless of season, which in winter in the study lake mainly was emergent plants in the littoral (shallow near-shore) zone.


*Kobler, A., T. Klefoth, C. Wolter, F. Freidrich, and R. Arlinghaus. 2008. Contrasting pike (Esox lucius L.) movement and habitat choice between summer and winter in a small lake. Hydrobiologia 601:17-27. 

Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lew

Lew's Pro SP Skipping and Pitching SLP Reel

Bass Pro Tour angler Andy Montgomery shares his insight on the new Lew's Pro SP Skipping and Pitching SLP Reel.

X-Factor Smallmouths

X-Factor Smallmouths

The In-Fisherman staff keeps it on the cutting edge, as they use the X-Factor plus topwater lures for smallmouths.

What

What's New with Abu Garcia Veritas Rods?

There are big changes to Abu Garcia's popular Veritas series of rods. Andrew Wheeler highlights the new features with In-Fisherman's Doug Stange as part of our 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings

VMC Crossover Pliers and Rings

Quick and easy Neko and whacky rigging; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Lunar followers often check moon phases as well as timing of minors and majors. Bass

The Effects of Solunar Forces on Bass Fishing

Steve Quinn - June 22, 2020

Lunar followers often check moon phases as well as timing of minors and majors.

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as girth measurements. Biology

Walleye Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 03, 2017

Several methods are available to estimate the weight of a fish. Some use length as well as...

Their fighting ability is far superior to the largemouth bass—more par with muskies. Other Fish

The Case for Super Bass (AKA Snakeheads)

Steve Ryan - July 06, 2020

Their fighting ability is far superior to the largemouth bass—more par with muskies.

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate explanation from the In-Fisherman biologists. Bass

Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart

Dr. Rob Neumann - January 22, 2017

Check out this Largemouth Bass Length To Weight Conversion Chart, a simple and accurate...

See More Trending Articles

More Pike & Muskie

Let's look at what we really know about optimizing our time on the ice for pike. Pike & Muskie

Fascinating Factors for Pike

Gord Pyzer - March 04, 2020

Let's look at what we really know about optimizing our time on the ice for pike.

There's something special about ice fishing for giant pike. Pike & Muskie

Finding Pike Consistently All Season Long

Gord Pyzer - January 23, 2019

There's something special about ice fishing for giant pike.

He was as passionate about his writing as he was his fishing. Pike & Muskie

A Pike Man Passing: A Lifetime of Giant Pike

Doug Stange - April 27, 2020

He was as passionate about his writing as he was his fishing.

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer? Pike & Muskie

Pike Movement and Habitat: Summer vs. Winter

Dr. Rob Nuemann - January 30, 2020

Do pike under ice cover choose the same types of habitats they use in summer?

See More Pike & Muskie

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All In-Fisherman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now