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Chain Pickerel

Chain Pikcerel

Fun Facts

  • Species Name: Esox niger
  • Common Names: pickerel, grass pike, jack, jack fish
  • State Record: 6 lbs. 4 oz. Caught in Harriman Reservoir in 1974 by Robert Purdy.


A member of the same family that includes northern pike. However, unlike pike, chain pickerel have fully scaled gill covers, and their tail, dorsal and anal fins have no conspicuous spots or blotches. Their flanks are a light, golden green, with dark, chain-like markings.

Where to Fish

Even more so than northern pike, chain pickerel can be found throughout Vermont in various lakes, ponds and rivers. Though Lake Champlain and many of its tributaries may be the most well-known chain pickerel producers, other fisheries such as Lake Memphremagog, Salem Lake, Connecticut River, Lake Fairlee and Berlin and Salem ponds kick out quality pickerel year in and year out. Many other small ponds around the state also produce surprisingly large chain pickerel.

How to Fish

As with northern pike, chain pickerel can be consistently found around shallow aquatic vegetation such as milfoil, coontail, pondweed, or lily pads, and can be caught on a wide-range of lures. Everything from spinnerbaits, crankbaits and top water plugs to Texas-rigged plastic worms or jigs have proven to be effective pickerel catchers.

If you’re a live bait angler, perhaps no presentation is more successful for catching numbers of pickerel than suspending live 2 to 4 inch minnows off the bottom with a float or bobber.

In the winter, chain pickerel respond well to a variety of ice fishing jigs and to live minnows fished under tip-ups.