The northern pike is typically 1 metre in length and weighs around 8 kilograms. It has a single dorsal fin and rows of light-coloured bean-shaped spots on its dark greenish-brown body. It has scales over its cheeks and the upper half of its gill cover. The underside is creamy white.
The pike can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures, water clarity and oxygen content, which explains its widespread presence in weedy freshwater bodies throughout Europe, Siberia, Canada and the United States.
The northern pike is a relatively aggressive, carnivorous, solitary fish. It is an ambush predator, remaining still in the water in wait for prey, then striking with a high-energy burst of swimming in an "S" formation. It has sharp teeth and a complex skull and jaw structure and is able to prey on smaller fish as well as frogs, crayfish, waterfowl and small mammals. It is also capable of cannibalism when food is short. Its preferred prey is approximately a third to a half of its own size.