Chain pickerel are attractive freshwater fish of North America. They are members of the pike family, which includes musky, northern pike, chain pickerel and other species.
Of the three members of the pike family that are sought after by anglers, chain pickerel are the smallest. They reach a length of 3 feet and weigh up to 7 lbs.
Chain pickerel are recognized by a vertical black bar which extends downward from each eye. Their sides are marked with a unique pattern of camouflage which is said to resemble chain links.
These markings consist of light tan to yellowish lines on a dark green background, which helps to conceal these fish in their favorite habitat.
Chain pickerel are ambush predators, hiding among aquatic vegetation or around obstructions where forage fish are found. They attack their prey in a lightning fast strike, holding tightly with razor sharp teeth.
Unlike many fish, pickerel bite well during the cooler months. Winter chain pickerel fishing techniques require a slower presentation, but the results can be worth the chilly time on the water.
Chain Pickerel Identification
The chain pickerel can be distinguished from northern pike and Muskies by its prominent chain-like markings on a green background. Chain pickerel can also be identified by their fully scaled cheek and gill cover, which differs from pike and musky.
What is your favorite fishing lure for catching chain pickerel and other fish?
Other Names for Chain Pickerel
Depending on location, chain pickerel may also be called:
- southern pike
- jack fish
- federation pike
- federation pickerel.