Return to Easily Identify Pike   

Chain Pickerel

Esox niger

Pike Family

Freshwater Fish Identification

Chain Pickerel

Common Name(s):
Grass pike, eastern pickerel, chainsides
These fish have dark, olive-green backs that fade to a yellowish belly. They get their name from the dark chain-like markings overlaying the lighter-colored sides. There are no markings on the fins or tail. There is a dark, vertical bar below the eye. Its cheeks and gill covers are both completely covered with scales.
Similar Fish:
Grass pickerel, redfin pickerel
Feeding Habits:
Chain pickerel are predators whose chief diet consists of other fish, from minnows to fish that are nearly as long as themselves. They also consume insects, crab larvae, frogs and mice. They don’t hesitate to cannibalize, starting a month after hatching.
Found throughout the eastern United States and Canada, from Nova Scotia south through most of Florida, and west into eastern Texas.
They are usually found in clean and clear vegetated waters, especially lakes, swamps, ponds, pools of streams, backwaters, and most sizes of rivers.
Typical Size:
Grows to approximately 20 inches in about 6 years. In Florida, the chain pickerel can reach sizes up to 30 inches in length.
World Record:
9 pounds, 6 ounces (Source - IGFA)