Pike vs Pickerel: Difference and Comparison

Fishes are undoubtedly a very crucial part of the human ecosystem as well because not only do they provide food to the human population, but they also serve as an economical means to the human generation.

However, there might be a confusing situation in differentiating certain varieties of fishes, and the most common example of this confusion is the difference between Pike and pickerel. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Pikes are larger, aggressive predatory fish, while pickerels are smaller and have more slender bodies.
  2. Pikes have a wider distribution across North America and Eurasia, while pickerels are mostly found in North America.
  3. Pikes have distinctly elongated snouts and sharp teeth, while pickerels have more rounded snouts and less prominent teeth.

Pike vs Pickerel 

Pike, also known as northern pike, is a species of fish belonging to the genus Esox. They are found in the Northern Hemisphere in both freshwater and brackish water habitats. Pickerel are a group of freshwater fish belonging to the genus Esox, specifically the species Esox americanus and Esox Niger.

Pike vs Pickerel

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The term Pike refers to a particular species of fish that are found in freshwater and can easily be distinguished from other species due to certain inherent qualities.

This fish contains very few spots on its body, and the spots happen to be differently built from one another and do not touch each other. 

While on the other hand, pickerel happens to be another species found in the freshwater but consists of different physical characteristics as compared to the previous one.

It contains a lot of spots on the body, and the spots happen to be in a particular shape that contradicts one another. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of Comparison Pike  Pickerel  
Definition  The term refers to a particular variety of fishes also known as northern pike. The term refers to a particular variety of fish is also known as chain pickerel. 
Number of spots There is a smaller number of spots on the body of this fish. There is a very large number of spots on the body of this fish. 
Nature of spots The spots do not touch each other and happen to be independent The sports usually cross each other and create a harmonious shape 
Size  This fish grows into a very bigger size. This fish remains to a comparatively smaller size. 
Gill area  The gill of this particular fish is free of any scales. The entire gill of the fish is filled with scales. 
Eyes  No teardrop is found in the eye of this fish. Usually, teardrops are found in the eye of this fish. 

What is Pike? 

A distinguished variety of fish is found in freshwater and consists of three species is known as Pike. The three infamous varieties of this particular fish are southern Pike, Northern Pike, and Amur Pike.

It is a very crucial variety of fish as it serves many economic and other purposes.  

The most prominent and distinguishing feature by which this fish can easily be differentiated from other varieties is that it has very light spots on the body, and the spots do not contradict one another.

This pattern helps any person to recognize this particular variety and take it as a Pike only. Certain other physical traits of this particular fish are that it grows into a very big size, and the jawline of this particular fish happens to be free of fins.  

Also, there are no or a negligible number of scales on the gill of this fish, and the eye of this fish also happens to be free of any kind of teardrops.

And because of having a lot of flesh on the body, this fish is used as bait to lure other fishes or organisms. 


What is Pickerel? 

Mostly found in the North American region, pickerel is another distinguished variety of fish having two other names such as American pickerel or chain pickerel.

However, due to the similarity of this particular fish with another variety called Pike, some people tend to confuse pickerel for Pike. But unlike other species, there are a lot of distinguished qualities in this fish that need to be elaborated in order to be understood clearly.

In the geographical aspect of life, this particular fish prefers to live in an area that has a water body moving very slowly and has aquatic vegetation in it.

The size of this particular fish happens to be relatively small as compared to other species, and it does not grow into a giant one either.  

However, one most prominent quality of this particular fish is that it has heavy and dark spots on the body, which can be easily seen from a distance as well, and these spots cross each other in design and form one design only.

However, one needs to be very careful while looking for this particular variety going to its sharp piece that can be extremely dangerous for any human being. 


Main Differences Between Pike and Pickerel 

  1. Pike is a particular variety of fish, also known as northern Pike, while on the other hand, pickerel is a variety of fish is also known as chain pickerel.  
  2. Pike happens to grow in very larger size while on the other hand pickerel happens to grow to a smaller size comparatively.  
  3. Usually, there are no teardrops found in the eye of the Pike, but such teardrops are found in the eye of the pickerel.  
  4. Pike has fewer spots on the body as compared to pickerel, which has many spots on the body.  
  5. The gill of Pike happens to be free of any kind of scales, while on the other hand, the goal of pickerel happens to be filled with scales. 
Difference Between Pike and Pickerel


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8659(1939)69%5B268%3APONPAP%5D2.0.CO%3B2 
  2. https://afspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8659(1982)111%3C768:SMONPA%3E2.0.CO;2  

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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