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Northern Pikeminnow Sport-Reward Program


Northern Pikeminnow Identification

Profile Image of Northern Pikeminnow.

 A Northern Pikeminnow on the ground, 2016. Photo by Isaac Lane Koval.

What Is A Northern Pikeminnow?

The common name of the Northern Squawfish has been changed to Northern Pikeminnow by the American Fisheries Society.

The Northern Pikeminnow is a large member of the minnow family native to the Pacific slope of Western North America. Formerly known as "Northern Squawfish", the name was changed to Northern Pikeminnow by the American Fisheries Society in 1998. It has a long snout with a large mouth extending back to the eye. The body is dark green or dusky green above and silvery or creamy white below, with clear fins. Northern Pikeminnow are similar in shape to the non-native walleye, but lacks the walleye's obvious teeth and spiny fin rays.

The Northern Pikeminnow of the Columbia river is not the same as the threatened Colorado Pikeminnow. They are two distinct species.

How To Tell A Northern Pikeminnow From A Peamouth

Profile image of Northern Pikeminnow fish head.
Profile image of Northern Pikeminnow fish head.


The Northern Pikeminnow has a head that is somewhat flattened between the eyes.

A long snout and a large mouth - you can usually insert 2 to 3 fingers fully into an 11-inch Northern Pikeminnow’s mouth.

One of the best ways to determine the difference between a Peamouth and a Northern Pikeminnow is to compare where the corner of the mouth ends. On a Northern Pikeminnow the corner of the mouth comes back to the eye, while on the Peamouth, the corner of the mouth is well before the eye.

The barbels at the corner of the Peamouth’s mouth are missing on the Northern Pikeminnow, as are the dark bars on the side.

Northern Pikeminnow from the Columbia River are generally a bright silvery color, while those from tributaries will usually be darker and more colored.

Profile image of Peamouth fish head.
Profile image of Peamouth fish head.


Peamouth are the species most commonly confused with the Northern Pikeminnow. Body shape is similar to the Northern Pikeminnow, but usually slimmer.

The Peamouth’s head is more rounded than a Northern Pikeminnow.

The species two mouths are quite different. The Peamouth’s round mouth is much smaller than the Northern Pikeminnow's. Generally you can only fit the tip of a finger in the Peamouth’s mouth.

There is red coloring around the lips, and a small barbel at each corner of the mouth.

Also look for two dark lateral bars on the side, which turn reddish during spawning time.

Peamouth are a native fish, they do not prey on or compete heavily with salmonid smolts. Peamouth should not be wantonly killed and discarded as trash fish.

Contact Us

Pikeminnow Hotline

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
800-858-9015 Toll Free

Reward Voucher Information Line

800-769-9362 Toll Free

Bonneville Power Administration 
Fish & Wildlife Department

800-622-4520 Visitor Center

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