Chain pickerel aren’t typically considered sought-after game fish; however, this species often overlooked by anglers can actually be exciting and challenging to catch! They tend to give a hard fight and the meat is incredibly tasty, giving anglers a satisfactory reward for snagging such monsters. Read on to learn more about how to catch chain pickerel!
Take note: to catch this elusive species, you need to learn how to properly identify the fish, find where you’re most likely to catch some and use the right gear and techniques.
We’ll also tackle some of the frequently asked questions, such as are chain pickerel good to eat and can you eat chain pickerel. With our guide, fishing for pickerel will be easier, quicker, and more enjoyable!
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How to Identify the Species
When learning how to catch chain pickerel, it’s necessary that you know how to identify the fish.
Belonging to the pike family, chain pickerel have green-colored bodies and sides which somewhat resemble that of the northern pike. The chain pickerel have scaled gill covers and cheeks, unlike the northern pike.
The average pickerel that you will be able to catch weighs under 2 lbs.; however, there were anglers that caught some that are much larger. Larger pickerel can grow up to 30 inches with the world record chain pickerel weighing an astounding 9 lbs. and 6 oz.
Where to Catch Chain Pickerel
Put to the test what you’ve learned catching chain pickerel where they’re most abundant. The species can be found in the eastern part of North America.
They prefer a warm body of water, typically a water temperature higher than 70°F. Fishing for pickerel can be in various bodies of water, such as slow-moving streams, reservoirs, weedy lakes, and clear ponds.
Fish in areas where the water isn’t more than 10 ft deep as the fish prefer shallow waters. They’ll be moving deep in the water, however, when temperatures become too hot for them. As the water temperature cools back, they’re often found close to weed beds.
How to Catch Chain Pickerel
Here are the tips of seasoned anglers on chain pickerel fishing:
Find Areas of Vegetation
Chain pickerel ambush their prey. They use weeds to hide out before attaching their prey from cover. This is why you should be more successful in catching them in areas where there’s vegetation.
Make sure that your presentation is food over the weeds as this is the most ideal depth for getting some fish action.
Set the Hook with Speed
The fish will strike fast so you also need to be quick. chain pickerel teeth are incredibly sharp. This means it’s necessary for you to set the hook prior to the fish getting the opportunity to chomp through the fishing line.
The line has to be tight and flick your wrist as soon as you sense a strike. If possible, practice as much as you can to be more effective at setting the hook on chain pickerel. This isn’t an issue for seasoned anglers.
Fish During the Day
Pickerels aren’t nocturnal marine animals. They don’t feed actively in the nighttime. This means it’s best to stick with fishing during the day or when the sun’s out and water temperatures are ideal for chain pickerel.
Early morning is your most productive time for chain pickerel fishing. If you aren’t able to fish early, don’t worry as you’ll still get a bite so long as the sun’s out.
What Gear to Use for Catching Chain Pickerel
Our recommendations on pickerel fishing equipment are as follows:
Rod and Reel
As pickerel are most likely caught in shallow waters, an ultralight spinning rod and reel setup can work for most situations. There’s no need for you to cast far, so a 5 and a half light or ultralight rod is an excellent choice.
Make sure that your choice of rod has some sensitivity for easy pick-up of strikes. Fly fishing isn’t very popular when trying to catch fish. Still, it can be effective which surprises some. Use an 8-9 ft rod.
Lures and Baits
Topwater fishing is also very exciting, which we recommend you try if you haven’t yet. If the water you’re fishing is clear, the topwater action will spook the fish away.
This means you shouldn’t use it in perfect weather with clear water. Minnow lures that are 3 to 5 inches long can also work with chain pickerel. Just make sure that they have a life-like action in the water to get bites.
If you want to use spinnerbaits, you’ll be happy to know they work as well. The vibration and flash of the blades are irresistible to the fish. Of course, live minnows work best. They’re your best options when trying to catch pickerel and other species.
Stick with #2 or #1. An Aberdeen hook is an excellent choice.
For pickerel fishing, you can use a 10-lb mono fishing line. Pickerels are aggressive to fishing lines.
When learning how to catch pickerel, you should also know that the best time to test your fishing skills is early spring. During this time, the fish feed aggressively as they are preparing to spawn.
If you’re fishing during the summer season, fish for pickerel deeper than usual. You’ll find them in deeper water that has structure. During winter, you can still fish for them.
As a matter of fact, ice fishing for pickerel can be productive! Just remember to fish in the right area. It would also pay to learn how to filet a pickerel.