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Fish Identification - Chain Pickerel

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Chain Pickerel
Species Facts

Science Name: Esox niger
Other Names: Pike, river pike, grass pike, jack, jackfish, eastern pickerel, chainsides, mud pickerel
Ideal Temp: 60 to 70
World Record: 9 lbs. 6 ounces GA
Environment: river and lakes
Techniques: light tackle, casting

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Mainah | Posted: November 12, 2012

I use shiny plugs and spinners of any kind, preferably in shallow, weedy water. remember to keep it bright!

wsboyette | Posted: August 3, 2012

I have caught quite a few of these on shad colored crankbaits such as Rapala's Shad Rap & Bill Lewis's Rat'ltrap. Some of the best fighting and tastiest fish I have ever caught !

Pammiepi | Posted: June 14, 2012

I love catching these guys! I have the most success night fishing in the winter (when I can see them "swirling" the pond surface from my house), and will occasionally catch them while fishing for Crappie with minnows for bait. When I purposely go for Pickerel, I use a larger hook, stronger leader and heavier duty swivel, with a bobber, allowing the bait to sink about 1-2 feet below the surface. They are a fan of minnows and will take chicken hotdogs as well. When hooked they give a good fight. I do occasionally catch them with spoon-type or spinner lures, but I'm more of a bait fisherwoman... Black Creek Pond, FL

PikeGuyReese | Posted: April 21, 2010

I caught my first Chain Pickerel on 4/13/10 at 25 inches, but didn't get to weigh him. So i went back for more, especially since i had hocked one that looked close to 3 feet long but it ran into the weeds and snapped my 8lb line. Determined to get him i went shopping for new 20lb braided line and a new reel. On 4/19 I got one at 23in 4.39lbs... 4/20 another at 22in 4lbs...4/21 yet another at 22.5in 4.04lbs( and several other big ones that didn't meet the citation requirements.) All of them had trout in their belly's ranging from 6 to 11 inches long. And I caught them all around 4pm. Yet I won't be happy until I get the big one that originally broke my line. I know he's out there and it's just a matter of time before he bites. And this time I'm prepared!!

Paul | Posted: March 14, 2010

Last Friday, I stopped on the side of the road in Va. Beach Va, (Shell Rd.), there were lakes on either side of the two lane road. I went for the northern creek section, and with-in 4 casts, landed a 23 inch Chain Pickerel. It hit like a ton of bricks, not 4 feet from shore, the water was quite deep. First on I ever caught. I used a weedless round white jig with a black plastic looking minow with a curly tail on the Jig. No tinsel, or rubber bands, just the Jig and the fake fish ...jet black, and a yellow like tail. The hook set way deep, so, it wound up on the BBQ grill. Not surprising but there was a whold 6 inch sunfish in its belly. Last meal I presume, before she came to dinner at my place. The teeth are a sight to behold. It was alomost like a ducks bill backed with pointy sharp teeth. And large round eyes, that actually followed my movements on shore, untill it got the "chop". Fast, and quick experience.

Shrapper | Posted: March 9, 2009

I have had quite a bit of success using a chartreuse spinner (white works as well). Also, the will hit soft-frogs of various colors and sizes. One thing I have noticed is that pickerel don't respond well to extended amounts of time out of the water. Unlike largemouth, these fish really need to be put back in right away (whereas a largemouth will give you enough time to snap a pick and give him a good once over for measurements).

t s s  | Posted: April 13, 2008

using light tackle such as fake worms are great especially with bright and shiny colors...i went fishing tonight had the worst night ever getting snagged everywhere possible ,,, but i still caught some pike off a light green worm with a gold tail my pike tonight was 4.3 lbs 14 inches but ive caught some 25 inches long back where im fishing

cam | Posted: April 9, 2008

try a greeen newt hooked by the head jerk it

Taylor Jerden | Posted: August 27, 2007

The Chain Pickeral, athough hard to find sometimes, is one of my most favorite fish to real in. Jigs work wonders catching these things, I never really had much luck catching them with plugs, but I have hooked a few on my second favorite lure (of which I find is a must have for any tackle box) the STORM WILDEYE SWIM SHAD. I did catch one on a buzzbait, but unfortunatly that lure ripped the poor things mouth to shreads, I had to put the thing out of its misery. I hear many fishermen catch these things on spoons but I have yet to do so.

ETHAN ADAMS | Posted: June 9, 2007


matt | Posted: May 21, 2007

use a spinner of any type and a big hook with fish innards of the type that it eats

Dillon | Posted: March 22, 2007

You can also use red rooster tails in shallow areas i can usualy catch the limit of red pike and jack /chain pickerel ....try to it has to be 1/8 red with no decor only the original silver spoon. This lure also works for anything basicalyn

Dillon | Posted: March 22, 2007

Instead of using any lure you should try shiners and i have caught 3 footers in deep creek...make sure the water is low and not flowing. Its not gauranteed to work everytime but when does anything work all the time.

BuddyBass | Posted: March 17, 2007

forget the little picks you want a 5 pounder use a zoom super fluke 5" albino color with a 2/o offset owner wormin' hook in the lily pads

[email protected] | Posted: March 15, 2007

Use the storm wildeye sunfish for these guys. It will drive them nuts. It caught me a 3 pounder last year.

bassman | Posted: December 17, 2006

I've found that the Yozuri pin minnows work great on Pickerels..particularly this time of year. I use 6 lb test line with a split shot about 2.5 feet up from the minnow. Gold with black flecks seems to work this year..Enjoy...hoping this works for you too! Merry Christmas!

indigo man | Posted: September 6, 2006

Use a large spoon like a red devil or a super duper with a bottom bouncer in a diagonal motion in deep rocky water.

indigo man | Posted: September 6, 2006

Try using a spinner bait with bright green colors or shinner colors when trying to cover large water my wife and I caught some big ones by doing this .HAVE FUN ON THE WATER>

indigo man | Posted: September 6, 2006

Top water lures that are weedless like a Mister Twister or a weedless pop frog worked with a quick pause and go in heavy cover work really well.HAVE FUN ON THE WATER.

chaingang | Posted: September 4, 2006

Great luck in N. Carolina with Yamamoto plastic worms, cinnamon brown especially. Use a medium fast retrieve with a jig here and there and they will go stupid. Lily pads are a sure fire spot for some action, also around cypress clumps. Set quick and watch 'em jump, they like to fight. Good eatin as well - fried, died, and layed to the side.

brett | Posted: June 3, 2006

i have great luck using soft plastic and hard jerk baits around shallow weadlines and fallen trees

[email protected] | Posted: May 15, 2006

How can I list a Chain Pickerel? I commonly catch them about 18-24" in West Milford, NJ

sullyzippo | Posted: April 5, 2006

i catch them like mudfish, by accident on just about anything with movement to it. good fighting fish.

Mi-No | Posted: February 2, 2006

Fishing for pickerel, I usually use the new storm holographic 3 inch minnow shiners. I use a medium to fast retrieve near 1-6 inches near the surface of the water to draw out pickerel from weeds to ambush your bait...

pickerels my prey | Posted: August 31, 2005

i usually use a spinner bait colored green but usually i us medium sized shiners works like a charm but i dont agree with the steel leader because it spooks the fish and affects the lure action so just use about 40 ilb test line or flax line

DOONER | Posted: July 11, 2005

I just got home from fishing in Enfield Nova Scotia and I caught four nice pickeral all on a weedless grass frog.. surface lures that are weedless are perfect for chain pickeral around here and they sit right on shore.

[email protected] | Posted: April 23, 2005

I was out fishing for some bass and cats this past sunday and I was throwing a chartruese 3/16 oz. Terminator spinner bait. I hooked up with a nice 3lb pickerel on the first cast. Threw two more times to the same spot and landed two more about a pound and a half. Extremely fun. Keep your roosters flyin, and worms wigglin.

P-NUT | Posted: April 21, 2005

I have good luck using a pink superfluke. They come out of the vegetation and kill this lure. In Alabama it is rare to catch a pickerel. But I have had tramendous luck in a Illusive slough.

[email protected] | Posted: August 5, 2004

I caught mine on a #4 Panther Martin, silver, with orange tail feathers, silver blade/body. And I caught it in a miniature, dingy backwater creek. Good fighting fish.

Zane Evans | Posted: July 28, 2004

Use a pink roostertail around bank vegetation. this is a exellent way to catch them year round, but summer fishing with this bait is great.

[email protected] | Posted: June 5, 2004

I have to agree with Muskie Maniac. When I fish for Pickerel, I only use spinners. I have never missed with a yellow Rooster Tail. The only thing I change is the size. I really enjoy fishing for these agressive fighters with ultra light tackle. Regardless of tackle, take MM's advice and use a steel leader or you'll lose a lot of fish and bait.

[email protected] | Posted: November 18, 2003

for pickeral i use a blue fox vibrax preferably red it gets one all the time.

Muskie Maniac | Posted: June 17, 2003

Chain Pickerel are hard-fighting toothy little predators. They will bite vertually anything, if its small enough to fit in their mouth. But ive had the best luck with small spinnerbaits, they go insane for these things! I caught 9 pickerel in one area on a single spinnerbait. Make sure you have wire leaders when fishing for these toothy terrors, their teeth will saw through your line like a chainsaw. Also make sure you have a pair of pliers, a pickerel will not give up the fight once youve got it up to the boat, and believe me, you dont want to come home with 4 fingers. Another reason for the pliers is the bony jaw, it can sometimes be very difficult getting a deeply imbedded hook out of their maw. Remember, just because your fishing for bass or other species doesnt mean you wont catch a pickerel, they can sometimes be a nuisance. Good Fishing

[email protected] | Posted: February 19, 2002

Try a floating rapala lure with a slow retrieve. I caught a 2 lb pickeral this very afternoon. Good fighter and beautiful coloring. Tight lines.