Chain Pickerel

Common Name: CHAIN PICKEREL

Other Names: PICKEREL, CHAINSIDES, EASTERN PICKEREL

Scientific Name: Esox niger

Origin: Native

Adult Size: Most of the pickerel caught in Maine are age 3-5, at which time they range in length from 14-19 inches. Productive waters grow good numbers of 2-3 pound fish, along with occasional 4 pound fish. The state record, caught in 1992, weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.

Identification: Pickerel are a member of the pike family. The fish is green with the sides prominently marked by yellow-green areas broken by dark, interconnecting lines resembling the links of a chain. The jaws are elongated containing large, sharp teeth; the large dorsal fin is located way back towards the caudal fin, which is forked.

  • Chain pickerel are generally distributed tthroughoutthe eastern United States and southern and eastern Canada in quite, weedy waters.
  • Chain pickerel represent one of the four most abundant warmwater game fish in Maine.
  • Chain pickerel are one of the first fishes to spawn after ice-out in the spring.
  • No nest is prepared, and the adhesive eggs drop to the bottom to cling to whatever they happen to fall upon.
  • Young pickerel hatch after an incubation period of one or two weeks, depending on the temperature.
  • The pickerel has earned a well-deserved reputation as predaceous and habitually feeds on other fish.
  • Adults lie in wait of their prey and capture it in one quick lunge.
  • Favorite foods of the pickerel are yellow perch, white perch, and minnows.   Pickerel are also known to feed on frogs, snakes, ducklings, mice and muskrats.

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