Northern Pike Teeth: What to Watch Out For When Handling Pike

northern pike teeth

One of the most exciting catches I have ever experienced is the Northern Pike. Known as the freshwater barracuda, the Northern Pike is a top predator in lakes and rivers across the Northern Hemisphere. With an impressive set of teeth, these fish are not only fascinating for fish enthusiasts but also quite intimidating.

In my experience, I have learned that northern pike can have anywhere from 300 to 700 razor-sharp teeth. These teeth include a combination of smaller needle-like and larger fang-like teeth, which they use to clamp down on their prey and rip them apart. Surprisingly, despite popular rumors, there is no evidence that pike shed their teeth naturally over their lifetime.

When fishing for pike, it is crucial to understand their feeding habits and take precautions to protect your hands from their impressive set of teeth. Personally, I always ensure to use the proper tools and techniques to safely handle these fascinating predators while admiring their unique dental arrangement.

Northern Pike Teeth Structure

Large Teeth

As a northern pike enthusiast, I’ve observed that their large teeth act like fangs and play a significant role in their feeding habits. These fangs can grow up to one inch (2.5 cm) long, and are placed in multiple rows on both the upper and lower jaws. Their sheer size enables northern pike to clamp down on their prey and rip them apart.

Small Teeth

In addition to the large fang-like teeth, northern pike have an abundance of small, needle-like teeth. They are spread throughout the tongue and roof of the mouth, making it difficult for the prey to escape once they are caught. These small teeth aid in gripping and holding onto their prey, ensuring a successful feed.

Fang-Like Teeth

Northern pike’s fang-like teeth are not only large, but also remarkably effective in puncturing and tearing through the flesh of their prey. These teeth are designed to withstand the wear and tear of aggressive feeding, contributing to the northern pike’s reputation as a formidable predator in the water.

Razor-Sharp Teeth

Both the large and small teeth in a northern pike’s mouth are razor-sharp, making them incredibly efficient at catching and consuming their prey. With anywhere from 300 to 700 teeth, northern pike can easily pierce through the scales and skin of fish species such as white suckers, yellow perch, and bluegill. Their razor-sharp teeth make the northern pike a fearsome predator as well as a fascinating species to study.

Pike Fishing Equipment

Fishing Line

When I go pike fishing, I make sure to use a strong and abrasive-resistant fishing line. The choices are typically between monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided lines. Each type has its advantages:

  • Monofilament: It is affordable, has good knot strength, and is quite invisible to fish.
  • Fluorocarbon: It is almost invisible underwater, more resistant to abrasion than mono, and has low stretch, making it sensitive to bites.
  • Braided line: It is incredibly strong and has no stretch, allowing for excellent sensitivity and quick hook sets.

Wire Leader

Northern pike are known for their sharp teeth, so I always use a wire leader to prevent my line from being cut. Wire leaders are more durable than mono or fluorocarbon leaders and can withstand the bite of a pike. Leaders should be at least 12 inches long and have a breaking strength of 20-30lbs.


A quality reel is vital for pike fishing. I prefer using a low-profile baitcasting reel for better control, casting distance, and accuracy. The reel should have a smooth drag system and a gear ratio suitable for the lures I’m using. A gear ratio around 6.4:1 tends to cover most pike lure presentations effectively.


Selecting the right lure is crucial for successful pike fishing. I’ve found that these types of lures work well:

  • Spoons: Their erratic swimming motion imitates injured fish, making them easy targets for pike.
  • Spinnerbaits: The spinning blade attracts pike’s attention, and their weedless design allows them to move easily through vegetation.
  • Crankbaits: With their lifelike swimming action and variety of diving depths, crankbaits can target pike in many different conditions.


Last but not least, I always bring a large and sturdy net with me when pike fishing. A good net should have a rubberized coating to protect the fish’s slime layer and to keep hooks from getting tangled. The net should also be big enough to handle the size of a large northern pike, typically around 32-36 inches in depth.

Prey and Pike Biting Behaviour

Bite Force

I’ve observed the powerful bite force of the northern pike. These fish are notorious hunters, often nicknamed “water wolves” for their predatory nature. Their strong bite is complemented by their numerous teeth; they can have up to 700 razor-sharp teeth in their mouth, with needle-like rows pointing inward to secure their prey.

Interaction with Prey Fish

Northern pike are skilled predators, and their hunting habits reflect that. They primarily prey on fish, and I’ve witnessed how they use their quick reflexes to ambush and catch their targets, often lurking by gill areas in lakes like Lake Ontario, a popular location for North American pike. Over time, their evolution has honed their teeth and biting strategies for effectively subduing prey fish in their environment.

Interaction with Humans and Animals

While pike are undoubtedly fierce hunters, they do not naturally seek to bite humans or other animals. I’ve found that instances of pike bites on humans are usually accidental and occur when the fish mistakes a body part for their typical prey. When anglers like myself properly handle and release these fish, the risk of injury is quite low. It’s crucial for both my safety and the pike’s well-being to use the right tools and techniques when handling them.

In summary, northern pike are powerful predators with up to 700 razor-sharp teeth in their mouth, perfect for securing and subduing their prey fish. As a seasoned angler, I understand the importance of respecting these magnificent creatures for their hunting prowess, and I take appropriate precautions to avoid unnecessary injury when interacting with them.

Fishing Techniques and Locations

Fishing Guide

I’ve found that northern pike love to hang out in and around weed growth, as it provides cover for them to ambush their prey. When fishing for northern pike, I suggest using lures that mimic their baitfish such as white suckers, shad, yellow perch, and bluegill. Some essential tools for handling northern pike include a fish-friendly jaw spreader, a landing net, and long needle-nose pliers. Don’t forget to use a 1 to 3-foot long multi-strand steel or titanium leader, which prevents the pike from cutting through the fishing line.

Fishing in North America

My experience fishing for northern pike in North America has taught me a few things about their spawning and favorite locations. This freshwater fish typically spawns in shallow water, in areas with newly emerging weed growth. Here are a few key tips:

  • Target tributaries and backs of bays with emerging weeds during their spawn in the spring.
  • Focus on weed beds close to drop-offs and breaks because pike often use these areas to ambush baitfish.
  • As the weeds become thicker after spawning, use weedless lures to avoid fouling up on vegetation.

Fishing in Lake Ontario

Fishing for northern pike in Lake Ontario has been fruitful when employing the following tactics:

  • Look for shoals and structures that break up the monotony of the underwater landscape, as pike love to congregate around them.
  • Drifting and casting along the edges of weed beds or trolling around shoals can be effective methods for targeting pike in Lake Ontario.
  • Remember that the use of proper gear, such as a heavy fluorocarbon leader or a coated wire leader, is essential to prevent losing fish due to their sharp teeth.

In conclusion, knowing your target fish’s habitat, preferred prey, and the right tackle can make all the difference in landing that trophy northern pike. Good luck!

Handling and Safety Tips

Needle-Nose Pliers

When handling northern pike, I always ensure that I have a pair of needle-nose pliers nearby. These pliers are essential for removing hooks from the fish’s mouth safely and efficiently, without risking injury to myself or causing unnecessary harm to the fish. I’ve found that this tool is especially useful when fishing in areas like Minnesota and Wisconsin, where northern pike are common.

Jaw Spreaders

Another helpful tool I use when dealing with northern pike is a jaw spreader. This device is designed to hold the fish’s mouth open, giving me better access to the hooks and pike’s teeth while minimizing the risk of getting bitten. Jaw spreaders are particularly handy when dealing with pike that have multiple or deeply embedded hooks, as it ensures a quicker, safer unhooking process.

Injury Prevention

In order to prevent injuries when handling northern pike, there are several safety measures I follow:

  • Wearing armored gloves: This provides an extra layer of protection from the fish’s sharp teeth and gill rakers, preventing potential cuts or punctures.
  • Using an unhooking mat: This soft surface protects the fish’s body from contact with hard or abrasive surfaces, helping to reduce stress and avoid harm.
  • Employing a landing net: A net assists in securing the fish, minimizing thrashing and reducing the chances of sustaining an injury.


It’s worth noting that there are some common myths surrounding northern pike teeth and injuries that I’d like to address. Some people believe that pike teeth are venomous, causing significant pain or infections if bitten. However, this is not true. While an injury from a pike’s teeth can be painful, it is not generally more dangerous than a standard puncture wound.

In conclusion, by using the appropriate tools and safety measures, such as needle-nose pliers, jaw spreaders, and protective gear, I can successfully handle northern pike without risking injury to myself or the fish. By educating others on these techniques and debunking myths, we can ensure a safer and more enjoyable fishing experience for everyone involved.

Trophy-Sized Pike Identification

In my experience, identifying a trophy-sized northern pike relies on understanding their key characteristics, growth patterns, and habitat preferences. Northern pike are known for their impressive number of teeth, which can range anywhere from 300 to 700 in total. These razor-sharp teeth include both larger fang-like teeth and smaller needle-like ones. However, their teeth are not the only factor that sets them apart as a sought-after game fish.

Size is an essential aspect when it comes to determining trophy-sized pike. Most commonly, pike can grow up to 24-48 inches in length and weigh between 3-30 pounds. However, trophy-sized northern pike often exceed 40 inches in length and weigh over 20 pounds. In rare cases, they can even surpass 50 inches and weigh over 30 pounds.

Aside from their size and teeth, another primary characteristic of trophy-sized pike is their vibrant coloration. They usually have a greenish or golden hue to their body, with gold or silvery-white spots distributed throughout their sides. The pattern of these spots is unique to each individual pike, making it even easier to distinguish one from another.

To improve my chances of locating trophy-sized pike, I also consider their preferred habitat. They are predominantly found in freshwater environments, such as rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. In these bodies of water, pike tends to seek out areas with abundant vegetation, providing adequate cover for ambushing prey. Knowing this, I always pay extra attention to weed beds, fallen trees, and other submerged structures when searching for trophy pike.

In summary, identifying a trophy-sized northern pike involves considering a combination of factors, including their size, teeth count, coloration, and habitat preferences. By understanding these aspects and employing a strategic approach in the field, I greatly improve my chances of locating and catching that prized trophy pike.

Final Thoughts

As I wrap up my thoughts on northern pike teeth, it’s important to remember that these amazing predators are equipped with up to 700 razor-sharp teeth. This impressive set of choppers allows them to be very effective hunters, with their teeth varying in size and shape depending on their age and overall size. Most northern pike have between 300-500 teeth, including large fangs and needle-like teeth for slicing and dicing their prey.

I’ve learned that despite popular belief and fish stories, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that northern pike naturally shed their teeth over their lifetime. However, it is common for them to lose teeth due to damage, especially when they bite down on hard objects or lures. In these cases, their teeth can grow back, maintaining their powerful and effective bite.

When it comes to encountering a northern pike in the wild, it’s important to be cautious and prepared. Always carry gloves and needle-nose pliers when fishing for them to avoid nasty cuts from their teeth. Their predatory nature and impressive dental array make them truly fascinating creatures to study, and understanding their teeth can further enhance our appreciation for these remarkable fish.

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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