The pike does not have strict demands as to water quality. One can find them in lakes with clear water, brown water or clay colored water. The oxygen content, however, must not be under 3 ml/l, even though pike can manage for some time in water with an oxygen content of only 1-2 ml/l.
Water’s acidity is also significant. In water with a pH below 4.2 pike cannot spawn. The pike can also live in brackish water. A fully grown pike can live in water with a salt content up to 1%, but for reproduction to succeed, the saltiness must be under 0.7 %.
Pike can also live in rivers with rather strong currents.
Water temperature is not a significant factor for the pike’s prevalence as it thrives well in harsh inland climates in heights of 700 meters above sea level were the winter can be quite long.
The best waters to find pike are typically shallow and nutritionally rich with fertile vegetation. The vegetation in the water is important for the pike, both when spawning and for hiding places for its ambush attacks on prey.
Many of the nutrition rich lowland lakes which have a good pike population have inflow often from farms when they over-fertilize. The pike are able to withstand this but only to a certain limit. If the overflow from fertilizing becomes too strong, it adversely affects the pike’s reproduction.
The pike is a stationary fish. Large pike can travel a bit when searching for food, and in large lakes it likely move to deeper water in the winter, even if the pike can find food in both deep and shallow water throughout the year.
Though it can occur over certain distances to and from the spawning ground, we as a rule talk about short distances. Still it is clear that the pike’s greatest activity is before and after spawning.
Typically, pike move just a few hundred yards from their regular resting places. Experiences tracking a tagged pike demonstrates this very clearly. When the fish was tagged on June 7, 1958 it was 12.6 inches long and weighed 0.53 lbs. It was later found and controlled on July 22, 1959 within an area of 150 yards around the original tagging place.
It was found and documented again on July 22, 1959 where it was measured at 14.6 inches in length and weighed 0.88 lbs. It was tracked again on August 28, 1959, on August 31, 1959 (weighing 0.93 lbs and measuring 16.5 inches) and again on September 22, 1960.
A very extensive Finnish study showed very interesting information about pike migrations. During a three year period in the late 1950s, over 1500 pike were tagged. From those pike which were tagged in 1957, 30% were found again over the next two and a half years. One pike was found as far as 11 miles away from the original tagging place. Only 15% had migrated more than 25 miles from the place they were tagged. In contrast, 35% were found only 0.3 -2.5 miles from the original spot, while the rest were still practically on the tagging location itself.
It was also documented that during the spawning season many pike moved to good spawning grounds 0.6-1.2 miles away. Some pike after being tagged were released into the other end of a deep fjord, however, none of these migrated back to the original place. Other studies have shown that the pike, like the salmon, make the use of smell when trying to orientate themselves.
In Sweden, one has demonstrated with tagging experiments that in some cases, pike can migrate to spawning grounds which are over 12 miles from the areas where they usually stay.