Responding to rumors of Hurricane Isaac spillover arriving in the Champlain Valley this morning, I headed down to the waterfront to cover the ski boat. Although a light mist and breeze were stirring things up, I was surprised to see an Adirondack chair from our boathouse deck upside down in the shallow water. It must have been windier earlier in the morning!
I storm-proofed the boat and waded to recover the chair. After ample seaweed remediation — probably ten pounds of seaweed were wrapped around the the arms and legs of the chair, another suggestion that wind and waves must have been more aggressive before 6:00am — I dragged the chair up onto the beach where I discovered this handsome but lifeless fish.
Essex Musky? Pickerel? Northern Pike?
I promptly posted an iPhone pic to the interwebs with the following question:
Can you identify this 24″ fish that washed up on our beach last night?
Just as promptly the answers began flowing in across the social networks. Northern Pike. Muskellunge. Pickerel.
Northern Pike (Esox lucius)
Soon the answers coalesced around the likelihood that I’d spotted a Northern Pike (Esox lucius), so I double checked with always ready Google. Photos and videos aplenty support the conclusion that this toothy creature is a Lake Champlain Northern Pike.
Northern pike are most often olive green, shading from yellow to white along the belly. The flank is marked with short, light bar-like spots and there are a few to many dark spots on the fins. Sometimes the fins are reddish. Younger pike have yellow stripes along a green body, later the stripes divide into light spots and the body turns from green to olive green. The lower half of the gill cover lacks scales and they have large sensory pores on their head and on the underside of the lower jaw… (Wikipedia)
If you think I’m wildly wrong, or even if there’s some doubt, please chime in and set the record straight. I’m an avid but amateur fly fisherman, drawn primarily to rivers and streams which means that I’m far more familiar with trout and salmon. Although I caught plenty of bass and perch in Lake Champlain as a youngster, my knowledge of the predatory fish (empirical hypothesis drawn from the dazzling chompers this fish had on display) is limited.
Lake Champlain Northern Pike
Is this a Northern Pike? Add your guess in the comments below. Winner is welcome to the spoils! As long as you can beat Rosslyn’s mink to lunch…