North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Chain Pickerel

Scientific Name: Esox niger

Classification:  Game Fish
Abundance: Commonly found in slow-flowing streams, lakes and swamps of the Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

Sport Fish Profile (pdf)


Additional Information

Chain pickerel are native to the Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina, as well as other Atlantic and Gulf Coast drainages from New England to western Louisiana. They prefer relatively calm areas in lakes and rivers with lots of aquatic vegetation. Similar to muskellunge, chain pickerel are solitary fish that often hide in aquatic vegetation where they wait to ambush unsuspecting prey.


North Carolina offers some great fishing opportunities. If you are a resident or visitor to the state, please review the links below to ensure that you understand the rules, regulations and other guidelines.

The following fishing regulations are effective August 1, 2016 to July 31, 2017.

Inland Fishing

Inland Fishing Regulations (PDF)
Regulatory authority between the Wildlife Resources Commission and Division of Marine Fisheries. Inland game fish regulations include Manner of Taking, Seasons and Using Trotlines and Set-hooks.



Saltwater Fishing


There are no closed seasons on inland game fishes with the following exceptions (PDF).