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Chain Pickerel

Esox niger


Chain pickerel are deep olive-green on the back, shading to a creamy yellow on the belly, with the back and anal fin about the same size and located far back on an elongated body. A distinct black chain-like or interwoven marking on the sides give them their name.


Found statewide, normally in vegetated lakes, swamps and backwaters of small to large rivers.


Spawning occurs in late winter to spring among heavy aquatic weed growth or flooded grasses, in water from a few inches deep to several feet deep. Large number of adhesive eggs are scattered over vegetation.

Additional Information

State Record:  6.96 lbs.

Big Catch minimum: 22 inches or 3 lbs.

Fishing Tips and Facts: Chain pickerel are often encountered by bass anglers, especially while plug casting. They are good fighters, especially on light tackle. Productive lures include spinnerbaits, weedless spoons, surface plugs, crankbaits and jigs. Minnows are a reliable year-round bait. The white, flaky meat is good tasting, but quite bony.

Image Credit: © Duane Raver, Jr.