chain pickerel

Chain Pickerel (Esox niger)

The chain pickerel is widely distributed across most of the state, but is not common in many northern New York lakes. It is common in eastern New York State, including Long Island, westward through the Susquehanna drainage system and some of the Finger Lakes. It is not found in the Allegheny and Genesee river systems, and only isolated records exist from west of the Genesee River. Although chain pickerel may exceed 30 inches in length and weigh several pounds, the average fish is under 24 inches and weighs 1 to 2 pounds.

Chain pickerel spawn in swampy or marshy backwater areas of lakes and rivers soon after ice-out. No nest is built, and no parental care of eggs or young occurs. Eggs are dropped on the bottom, sticking to whatever they come in contact with. Small pickerel hatch within a couple of weeks. These young fish stay among the weeds close to shore throughout the summer. Young and adult pickerel feed primarily on other fish, although frogs and mice are consumed on occasion.


Distribution of chain pickerel in NY state.

An image of the chain pickerel is also available for download.

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