Re­think myth of killer pike

Macclesfield Express - - WILDLIFE -

WHEN I was a kid, my school­mates of­ten told sto­ries about a pike in the Bridge­wa­ter Canal.

This huge beast had dragged an Al­sa­tian into the wa­ter and taken lit­tle Gary White’s fin­ger off.

I fi­nally saw Gary and he had all his fin­gers and, as I grew older, I be­gan to re­alise that it would be pretty im­pos­si­ble for even the big­gest pike to drag a dog three times its size into the murky depths of the canal.

If you ask the ex­perts they will also tell you that pikes’ teeth are just not big enough to take a fin­ger off. Of course a lot of the fables have been spread by the An­gry An­gler’s Club, curs­ing these su­perb preda­tors for steal­ing their fish.

Pikes can be mon­sters of the deep, but mainly for other fish, and can grow to more than a me­tre in length and weigh more than 40lbs.

Gen­er­ally they are a bit smaller, hit­ting two feet long and 20lbs on a good day. They are found in lakes, slow-flow­ing rivers and canals, which have plenty of weeds for them to hide in. Fa­mously preda­tory, pike hide among the veg­e­ta­tion be­fore burst­ing out with re­mark­able speed to catch their prey – fish, frogs, small mam­mals or duck­lings.

Young pike are called ‘jack’ and will eat small fish and small in­sects and an­i­mals. Re­turn­ing to the same stretch of wa­ter ev­ery year, pike spawn be­tween March and May.

A large fe­male can pro­duce up to 500,000 eggs.

The pike is a long, slen­der fish with a nar­row, ta­pered head, large eyes and a large mouth with hun­dreds of teeth.

It is green­ish in colour with darker blotches and stripes.

I like the fish­er­men who run www.pikean­gler.co.uk – they state: “The Pike An­glers Club of Great Bri­tain has spent 35 years try­ing to turn the tide of public opin­ion to­wards pike.

“Ev­i­dence shows that pike culls are detri­men­tal to the over­all pop­u­la­tion of other fish species in a fish­ery. When pike are culled, fewer pike big enough to feed on their smaller sib­lings re­main.”

So let’s celebrate the pike and the good work it does. Let’s start a ‘Pike Ap­pre­ci­a­tion So­ci­ety’ and tell the world what a great ser­vice this su­perb hunter is pro­vid­ing.

To sup­port the work of the Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side, text WILD09 – with the amount you want to do­nate – to 70070. For more in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust. org.uk.

Lan­cashire Wildlife Trust

●● A pike glides through the murky depths

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