A member of the Pike family, the chain pickerel by some are also called southern pike, grass pike, eastern pickerel, federation pike, federation pickerel and some others. Some folks will call the Walleye a pickerel, but the name rightfully belongs to the Chain Pickerel.
DISTINCT IDENTIFICATION MARKS
Adult pickerel range in colour from brown, to different shades of green on the back. The sides are yellow green and dark areas, broken up to resemble a chain, which is how this pickerel gained it’s name.
The long snout on the fish takes up 44-48% of the length of its head.
The average length of a chain pickerel is 38.1 – 50.8 cm (15-20 inches), but can reach up to 76cm (30 inches)
The chain pickerel is a fresh water fish, and can be found from Nova Scotia to Florida. It’s also been caught in lake Michigan and the lower parts of the great lakes. It prefers warm slow, waters with vegetation.
PLACE OF ORIGIN
The pickerel is found all along the eastern seaboard, and as far west as east Texas. In 2008, in the lower bay of Quinte, Lake Ontario a fisherman caught one, and a year later another was caught in the regions of the St. Lawrence River.
In 1945 chain pickerel were put in three lakes in Nova Scotia. You can now find them from Yarmouth to Colchester County.
The largest pickerel on record to have been caught was in Georgia, USA. It weighed 2.4kg (5.38 lb)
BEST FISHING TIME
Anglers fish for Chain Pickerel all spring and summer. They do tend to prefer lake waters that are around 24 degrees Celsius.
BEST LURES/BAIT TO USE
A chain pickerel will eat almost anything. If you’re fishing a lake that has small mouth bass and chain pickerel in it, you can easily use the same lures and baits. Grubs or soft worms (many prefer white) hooked onto a jig head hook is often preferred by many anglers for causing activity in the water attracting the pickerel causing them to attack. Many also like using soft bait frogs, spinners, beer bottle covers, etc.
Some enjoy the taste of chain pickerel. It is recommended though to carefully remove the skin before cooking this fish as it’s believed some of the weedy taste you will find in the fish as the summer goes on may be caused by cooking with the skin still on. The fish is also rather boney so care should be taken when cleaning this fish.
Be sure you clean the fish as soon as possible to avoid body fluids from contaminating the meat, and always keep the meat cool if transporting it.
SEASON FOR FISHING