The association of young-of-the-year northern pike (Esox lucius) with different aquatic plant types (e.g., submerged, emergent, floating) was studied to evaluate the impacts of a potential loss of backwaters on available fish nursery habitats in the upper Mississippi River. Eight biweekly collections were made at each of six representative lentic habitats in Navigation Pool 7. In the spring, average catches of northern pike from areas with submerged vegetation were nearly three times greater than from areas with emergent vegetation, and more than 10 times greater than from an area with no vegetation. This pattern was consistent until late summer, when the young became more common in the more highly oxygenated, less heavily vegetated waters. Food and growth were examined as possible indicators for the selection of areas with submerged vegetation over other habitats. Food varied among fish in the different vegetation types; however, no significant patterns of improved growth or condition were apparent. Young northern pike apparently were successful, opportunistic feeders. Although preference for habitats with submerged vegetation was seemingly not related to food, the overall production of young was clearly best in these habitats.
Additional publication details
Relationship of young-of-the-year northern pike to aquatic vegetation types in backwaters of the upper Mississippi River