Last summer, while walking out to the end of the road at camp, I noticed a sign tacked up on a utility pole. Naturally, I assumed someone lost a dog, or was having a yard sale, or whatnot. But it turned out to be a sign from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, warning about the dangers of the Northern Pike to our lakes. Now, my little pond seems an unlikely place for such things, but it's becoming a real problem.

Northern Pike, or esox lucius, are an aggressive carnivorous fish that is something like a giant pickerel. Unchecked, in large bodies of water they can grow to downright horror movie proportions. Huge, with scary teeth, and a look in their eye that exudes pure terror.

Check out this video from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Facebook page.

Since they're not native to Maine, their presence in our lakes and streams is causing quite a bit of havoc. They have a tendency to hunt all fish, large and small, and they are upsetting the delicate ecosystem in our region. Over time, other species start to die out, and eventually rob the habitat of all its indigenous species, potentially leaving a body of water almost completely barren of native fish.

Maine Fish and Wildlife urge you to destroy a Northern Pike should you catch one. Under no circumstances should you throw it back into the water. You should probably also alert the Fish and Wildlife Department if you do catch one. Where there's one, there's more.

Here's a photo with each, to help tell the difference:

Photo: Thinkstock

The upside of catching one is that they are extremely tough fighters, and are tasty if you catch one big enough to bother cleaning to eat. You know how tempting it is to keep that 2 pound pickerel you just caught, but you'll be spitting bones for days. Pike can get big enough to make it worth dealing with.

Definitely familiarize yourself with these big, nasty fishes if you are an avid angler. I know I can't wait to get out on the lake and put a few worms out of their misery. Hopefully, I won't have to put any Northern Pike out of theirs while I'm at it.

Happy Fishing!!