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How to fish for Pickerel

Chain Pickerel are distributed along the Atlantic coast of North America from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia south to Florida. The species is found in the Mississippi River drainage from the Gulf Coast as far north as Illinois and Indiana, and may be found in Gulf drainages as far west as the Sabine and Red rivers in Texas. 
Normally found in vegetated lakes, swamps and backwaters, and small to large rivers. They prefer water temperatures from 75 to 80 degrees. They 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 know to eat crayfish, mice, frogs, and snakes. Most angler caught Chain Pickerel are under 2 pounds but anglers can occasionally catch larger fish in some areas. Catches of Chain Pickerel over 4 pounds are uncommon. 
A 5 to 6 foot light action rod with a matching spinning reel spooled with 6 to 8 pound braided mainline will be sufficient for these fish. At the end of your mainline tie on a medium snap swivel with a 9 inch wire leader attached to the other end of the swivel. This will keep the Pickerel from cutting your mainline with its teeth. If you are worried about the steel leader being seen or effecting your lure action you can substitute it with 12 inches of 40 Lb mono leader.
Casting spinner baits, weed less spoons, surface plugs, crank baits and jigs at weed beds produce the most strikes from Chain Pickerel. Many of the same lures used for bass can be used for pickerel. Chain Pickerel can sometimes follow your lure right to the boat before biting, so when your lure reaches the boat make a couple of circles in the water with your lure before you pull it out to cast again.


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