PIKE OR IS IT JUST A DIFFERENT COLOR WALLEYE?
A different view
Veteran Outdoor Writer
This article first appeared in the Niagara Sunday Gazette
there a true blue pike, or, as the scientific community
claims, a colored variation of the walleye?
to geneticists at the U.S. Geological Survey’s aquatic
biology laboratory in West Virginia, a DNA study showed no
differences between samples from a blue pike and a walleye.
The samples were taken from mounted blue pike in museums.
researchers also have conducted DNA studies and they claim
there is not enough difference between DNA samples taken from
so-called blue pike that were in museums and fresh caught
walleye to make any difference.
Stepien, an aquatic-biologist who heads the Great Lakes
Environmental Genetics Laboratory at Cleveland State
University, said, “There are all kinds of different colors
of walleye, but they’re not different fish.”
also said her studies showed no appreciable differences
between what has been called blue pike and walleye. Most of us
know walleye come in many different shades of green to almost
black. In Lake Kesagami in northern Ontario, Mike Fox and I
found at least three distinct color variations of walleye. The
colors ran from a light green back with a pale belly to a
brighter green and amber-colored belly. In shallow water near
peat moss outcroppings, the walleye we caught were almost
black on top with a bright gold belly.
hard to argue with scientific fact and DNA studies have proven
to be more than accurate, but still a doubt remains for many
Many years ago, when we caught blue
pike on the sand bar out in front of Fort Niagara, the fish
were mostly all the same size. We kept the ones that weighed
in around a pound and a half to two pounds. These were the
“eaters.” I don’t remember catching any blues much
bigger than that. I never heard of a blue pike weighing 10
pounds or more, such as some of the walleye, or yellow pike,
we used to routinely catch in the Stella Drift.
Back then, the rule was always fish
the bar if you wanted lots of fish and the Stella drift if you
wanted large yellow pike, as we called walleye. If memory
serves me correctly, there wasn’t much difference in taste
between a blue and a yellow.
strange that we can catch walleye, or yellow pike if you
prefer, in the lower Niagara that range in weight from a pound
or so to well over 10 pounds on the same fishing trip unlike
the consistent weights of blue pike catches. With less
pollutants entering the river, the walleye population is coming
back strong. Much of the credit goes to the Niagara River
Anglers Association as well as fish that have migrated across
Lake Ontario from Bay of Quinte, but there are not the schools
of same size walleye similar to what used to be with blue
pike. Stepien said in the late 1990s she found blue-colored
walleye caught in a Canadian lake had the same DNA as fish
caught in Lake Erie, proving the Canadian fish were walleye
and not blue pike. She said the color could come from the
particular area in the lake or river where the fish lives. She
said color variation is similar to puppies from the same
litter. “Some can be brown or white, others yellow, but they
are all the same puppies except for the color.”
“Today’s findings are in
conflict with scientists, who in 1926 formally
declaring the blue pike a different species. Back
then, DNA was unheard of and blue pike commercial
catches were tallied in the millions of pounds.”
Today’s findings are in conflict
with scientists, who in 1926 formally declaring the blue pike
a different species. Back then, DNA was unheard of and blue
pike commercial catches were tallied in the millions of
show that between 1950 and 1957 the annual take was 26 million
pounds. In 1964, less than 200 pounds went to market. Shortly
after, the United States and Canada declared the blue pike
extinct. If today’s scientists are correct, why haven’t
the huge schools of blue-colored walleye recovered similar to
the “yellow pike?” An important point that cannot be
overlooked is the appearance of the blue pike by comparison
with the walleye. The blue had a more pointed nose and much
sure this argument will go on for a long time and no firm
answer will be found. Gary Isbell, head of the Ohio fisheries
research program, pretty much summed it up when he said it’s
time for anglers and scientists to give up the quest for a
got serious issues on Lake Erie with other species,” he
said. “The blue pike are gone; it’s time to get over it.
IS THERE/WAS THERE A BLUE PIKE? YOU
[OR JUST ASK SOME OF
THE OLD TIMERS
A LIVING NETTING THEM!]
Mark Daul, Outdoors Niagara .com
picture shown below is from a USFWS field guide/brochure that
was being prepared at one time [about 1997] describing the
difference between a blue pike and a yellow pike.
Unfortunately, from my sources, the field guide/brochure never
materialized. The guide was intended for fishermen to take on
their fishing trips up into Canada where there had been
reports of “blue walleye”.
is an example of something you will find on our website and nowhere
eye of the blue pike, bottom, is much larger than
the yellow pike or "walleye", top.
measures already taken: In 1969, a pair of Lake Erie Stizostedion,
believed to be blue pike, were spawned at the Pennsylvania
Fish Commission's Linesville Fish Culture Station. About 9,000
of the fry were transferred to Gavins Point National Fish
Hatchery at Yankton, South Dakota. Some of the fingerlings
were stocked in an isolated lake in northern Minnesota.”
Data submitted by Dr. Stanford H. Smith, National Marine
Fisheries Service, Ann Arbor, Michigan and Region 3, U. S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Twin Cities, Minnesota.
following is an example of an email received and as seen on
“Hello, I read your article and I loved it.
But I honestly think that the fish never went extinct and that
they have been alive all the time. I say that no matter what
anyone else says, a species is never totally extinct. There is
no way anyone can say that a fish is extinct because the
underwater environment is so secretive that you could be
staring at a so-called 'extinct' fish and not even know it.
Even the 'Experts' aren't always right. Take a look at the (Latimeria
chalumnae) or known as the Coelacanth, Scientists thought that
it had been extinct 50 million years ago and just at the
middle of the 20th century we discovered that they had been
hiding in the volcanic structures around the south African
shores. So never say a species is extinct.”
that you won’t read anywhere else is on this website. Make
sure you read the minutes of the “BLUE PIKE WORKSHOP”
held July 17th 1997 by the USFS. It was held
in Amherst NY. There is a list of attendees so you know who
was present. Besides USFWS head, at the time, Dieter Busch,
there was Carol Stepien, then of the Dept. of Biology,
Case Western Res. University, who now heads the Great Lakes
Environmental Genetics Laboratory at the Cleveland State
Ms. Stepien is quoted in Joe Ognibene’s
A NEW SCIENTIFIC
The world’s fish experts have
suddenly agreed just recently to scrap the scientific name
“Stizostedion vitreum” as the textbook definition for
walleye. The new scientific name is now “Sander vitreus”
for walleye. Sander is pronounced “Zander”.
many, many years, “Sander” has been the scientific name on
the other side of the Atlantic in Europe. [Since around1818].
North American scientists agreed to the name change because
Sander vitreum pre-dates Stizostedion vitreum. Now we are the
same all around the world.
do you think they will taste the same?
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