Blue Pike

From Ohio History Central
Blue Pike.jpg
The blue walleye (Sander vitreus glaucus), erroneously called the blue pike, was a subspecies of the walleye that went extinct in the 1980s.

The extinct blue pike (Stizostedion vitreum glaucum) were often confused with walleyes, of which it was a subspecies. Differences include the larger eye of the blue pike and their bluish-gray back, fading into bluish-silver on their sides. Another name for the blue pike is the blue walleye.

Blue pike had similar spawning activity of the walleye. They did not build nests, but were free spawners during April and May. Adults reached an average body length of nine to sixteen inches and weighed five ounces to one and a half pounds. They were carnivorous, eating mainly fish but also aquatic insects.

Blue pike habitat consisted of the clearer areas of Lake Erie, mainly in the eastern two-thirds of the lake. Bass Islands in the fall and winter Blue Pike were extremely important to the Lake Erie commercial fishing industry. The commercial catch in 1885 was 3,152,400 pounds. The annual catch for all U.S. and Canadian ports between 1950 and 1957 ranged from 2,000,000 to 26,000,000 pounds. In 1959, catch numbers dropped to only 79,000 pounds. In 1964, fish dealers sold less than 200 pounds of blue pike. Years of commercial fishing had taken their toll. Similar statistics occurred in the United States wherever there were blue pike.

No blue pike were found around Cleveland between 1971 and 1975. They were thought to be extirpated from the Ohio. In 1977, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed them as endangered in the United States. The blue pike has been considered extinct since approximately 1983. The main causes are attributed to uncontrolled commercial fishing and hybridization with walleye.

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