> “They preferred deeper, darker water than walleye, so interactions of these 2 species were normally infrequent except in the Western Basin reefs and Islands area over the winter – and through the spring spawning season. The Put-in-Bay State Fish hatchery raised millions of fry some years.
> “In the early 1900s, blue pike populations began to fluctuate widely, with high abundances every 4-6 yrs. This phenomenon was suspected to be the result of cannibalism by the older blue pike which cropped off their young-of-year offspring during their high cycles. As the adult population began to diminish, higher offspring survival would result in another huge year class. This pattern continued without much concern to fish biologists until the collapse of the population began in 1958, after 1954s last substantial hatch.
> “Several related factors have been suggested as the cause of this rather sudden, catastrophic extinction. Most scientists agree that the expanding, low dissolved oxygen dead zone led to suffocation of blue pike. It also reduced their primary food supplies, including burrowing mayflies and cool-water orientated bait fish such as trout-perch and silver chubs.
> “Invasive smelt and alewives increased in abundance during the mid-twentieth century, and preyed heavily on young-of-year blue pike, and may have been responsible for additional declines as populations were already fading.
> “When the schools of oxygen-starved fish concentrated near shore to avoid the low-oxygen conditions, an increase in landings by commercial netters further reduced the blue pike population. Commercial catches ranged from 2-26 mil lbs per yr in the 1950s. The final year that blue pike were sold, 1964, less than 200 hundred lbs reached the fish markets. The last few confirmed blue pike were caught in 1965 from Lake Erie.
> “For the next several years, bluish-colored walleyes were occasionally captured by both sport and commercial fishermen. Subsequent DNA-testing indicated that all of them were in-fact hybrids, apparently spawning with an increasing population of yellow walleyes as blue pike became scarcer.
> “When both species were abundant, they occasionally produced hybrids, known by commercial fishermen as grays, jumbos or mules, which grew larger than blue pike typically did and with blue pike color pattern.
> “A last-ditch effort to capture some brood stock for breeding purposes was attempted by PA and PH in the late 1960s, with several blue-colored fish taken to the National Fish Hatchery in Hebron and elsewhere. Propagation attempts failed and the species was officially declared extinct in 1976 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Now you (we) know. But…
While there hasn’t been any actual “blue pike” documented, no doubt you’ve probably seen some blue-ish variations of ‘eyes floating around the interwebz, which are a different species than their extinct cousins:
> “In a few lakes in ON and QC, blue-colored walleyes are frequently caught, but DNA analysis has repeatedly shown that they are simply a blue color-phased walleye that is missing yellow pigment and not a true blue pike.“
Still extremely B-E-A-Utiful and fun to look at. Like this 💣 that Marie-Pier Michaud dropped into the Target Walleye Instagram DMs…a sick side-by-side comparison of a “regular” walleye next to a blue color phase walleye she LiveScope’d from northern QC. Thx much for sending it in!