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Pickerel illustration

Chain Pickerel

World Record ~ 9 Lbs. 6 oz. Caught at Homerville, GA on Feb. 17, 1961 by angler Baxley McQuaig Jr.

Scientific name ~ Esox Niger

Other names ~ Pike, Jack, lake Pickerel, Eastern Pickerel, Green Chain Pickerel, Reticulated Pickerel, Black Chain Pike

Identification ~ The chain pickerel has an elongated, narrow body. It has a dark green back, green to bronze sides and a white belly. The sides have a dark chain-like pattern and there is a dark vertical line extending down from the eye. The slightly rounded dorsal fin is set far back over the anal fin, and the tail fin is deeply forked. The large mouth is similar in shape to a duck's bill and has many sharp teeth. The gill covers on the Chain Pickerel are fully scaled. The lower jaw has a row of sensory pores, usually four, on each side.

Size ~ The average size is 15 to 18 inches, but can attain sizes greater than 30 inches. The average angler caught Chain Pickerel is under 24 inches and 2 pounds or less.

Habitat ~ The chain pickerel live in the shallow vegetated waters of lakes, rivers, swamps, and ponds. They prefer water temperatures of 75 F to 85 F. They move into deeper water in winter and continue to feed. The Chain Pickerel is an ambush predator and lies in wait in weeds, under lily pads, near stumps, rocks, fallen trees, docks, and any objects that offer them cover. The Chain Pickerel is found in abundance from the mid Atlantic states north and in Florida and Georgia.

Feeding Habits ~ Chain Pickerel are an ambush predator, and will eat almost anything that they can swallow. They eat mostly fish like the yellow perch and minnows, but have been known to eat crayfish, mice, frogs, and snakes.

Fishing Prints


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