A giant pike met a slippery end when it choked to death on a duck at a Lincolnshire nature reserve.
Staff at the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust found the 120cm/4' long pike at a gravel pit yesterday and were surprised to find an adult Tufted duck stuck in its throat. The head alone measured nearly 40cm/16" in length.
Karen Gray of Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, who is herself a Practical Fishkeeping reader, told the magazine: "We were actually looking for a reported dead swan at the time and saw a large whitish shape at the far side of the pit.
"Thinking it was the swan that had been reported we made our way over to it. At that point we could see and smell that it was a very big fish.
"It was too slippery to grip with gloves and the teeth were too sharp to pull it in to look at properly, so I grabbed it by the gill covers. It was then that I could see the adult duck wedged right down the back of its throat.
"I suppose all the backward facing teeth in the roof of its mouth prevented it spitting the unlucky duck out."
Gray intends to clean the skull of the pike to show visiting school children. She told Practical Fishkeeping:
"Tomorrow I am going to weigh the pike and take some photos of the duck removed from the pike. I am going to keep the head and try to produce a skull from it. I already have a large pike skull I use as a teaching aid for school children but the head of this pike is easily half as large again."
Pike, Esox lucius, typically eat fish, but may also take ducklings and rarely adult ducks when fish supplies are not plentiful. The slim appearance of this pike suggests it was particularly hungry.
The fish is a member of the Esocidae family, which includes around five species, all of which are members of the genus Esox.