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)

     

A close relative of the muskellunge and other members of the pike family, the chain pickerel is named for the chain-like pattern on its sides. It is some-times mistaken for a small muskellunge, but the muskellunge does not have the black bar beneath its eye that is present in the chain pickerel. The redfin or “grass” pickerel is also similar in appearance, but the pattern on its sides resembles dark vertical bars rather than a chain-like pattern, and the redfin pickerel rarely exceeds 10 inches. 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.

The young feed mainly on aquatic insects and crustaceans until they reach about 4 inches. At that point, they switch to a diet primarily of fish but will eat small mammals, snakes, frogs, etc.

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, 2019 to July 31, 2020.

Inland Fishing

Inland Fishing Regulations
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

Habitats and Habits: 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. The young feed mainly on aquatic insects and crustaceans until they reach about 4 inches. At that point, they switch to a diet primarily of fish but will eat small mammals, snakes, frogs, etc.

Fishing Techniques: Use spinners, spoons, jigs and a variety of crankbaits. Minnows are a favored live bait. Fishing is usually best around aquatic vegetation, such as lily pads and brush piles.

None at this time.