Esox Niger

Preferred Habitat: Chain pickerel are found in relatively sluggish rivers and streams as well as reservoirs, inhabiting areas associated with heavy vegetation.

Range: statewide except for mountain habitats

Common Size: 14-15 inches, 12-14 ounces. Maximum size to length 31 inches and weight 9 pounds.

Food Habits: Chain pickerel feed primarily on fish and indiscriminately on any other aquatic organisms it encounters.

Spawning: Spawning occurs during March and April between water temperature of 40 and 60 °F. Once fertilized, the relatively adhesive eggs stick to aquatic vegetation and other submerged substrate where they incubate and hatch unattended.

Miscellaneous: This popular sport fish of coastal plain backwaters and streams is well adapted for its ambush-type-feeding behavior. Its body and mouth shape is perfectly designed for capturing and consuming other fish. Chain pickerel have been known to capture and attempt to consume fish equal to their own size. Chain pickerel will usually maintain a motionless posture, resembling a drifting stick. This unanimated behavior reduces its detection by prey fish thereby allowing the pickerel the advantage of surprise during capture. Although they have many small bones, they are a good eating fish.