Chain Pickerel Esox niger Lesueur, 1818    Synonyms: American Pickerel, Jack.
Kingdom Animalia   >   Phylum Chordata   >   Class Actinopterygii   >   Order Esociformes   >   Family Esocidae   >   Genus Esox   

Status:

Chain Pickerel are widespread in Maryland in freshwater impoundments and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. They have been widely introduced throughout their range. The species should be expected in all Maryland counties, but MBP still needs county records for about half the counties (and of course most quads). Please share photos to establish additional records!

Chain Pickerel are ambush hunters that are fond of weedy areas with lots of submerged structures. They are more active in winter and early spring than many species. They spawn in early spring when water temperatures reach 50F and eggs are attached to submerged vegetation or other structures.

Description:

Maryland has three other members of the pike family (Esocidae) - Redfin Pickerel, Northern Pike, and Muskellunge. Chain Pickerel can be distinguished by its chain-like patterning and the dark bar below its eyes.

Redfin Pickerel is smaller and has brightly colored fins. Our MBP records all come from the coastal plain and MBP contributors have usually found them in shallow areas of smaller streams.

Northern Pike is much more range-restricted in Maryland and can be found in some large reservoirs like Deep Creek Lake and Loch Raven.

Muskellunge, or Muskies - the especially impressive beasts of the family - are not native to Maryland but occur in non-tidal areas of the Potomac (original source unknown) and in stocked areas, some of them surprising such as Centennial.

There are 86 records in the project database.

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A Chain Pickerel in Worcester Co., Maryland (8/19/2018). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel in Worcester Co., Maryland (8/19/2018). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (6/30/2021). (c) sercfisheries, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel caught from Loch Raven Reservoir, Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/26/2013). Photo by Jon Corcoran. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel caught in Worcester Co., Maryland (2/21/2017). Courtesy of Fish in OC. Photo by Dave Messick. (MBP list)

AChain Pickerel caught in Worcester Co., Maryland (3/31/2018). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Baltimore Co., Maryland (4/6/2021). (c) michaelthefish, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by michaelthefish via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel caught in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (7/17/12). Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (8/17/2020). (c) maculatus, all rights reserved. Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel caught in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (8/18/2014). Measured 90 mm SL. Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Garrett Co., Maryland (8/16/2021). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel caught in St. Mary's Co., Maryland (8/30/2016). Photo by Bill Hubick. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Caroline Co., Maryland (3/3/2016). Photo by Jim Brighton. (MBP list)

A young Chain Pickerel in Garrett Co., Maryland (8/16/2021). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

A young Chain Pickerel in Garrett Co., Maryland (8/16/2021). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Garrett Co., Maryland (8/18/2021). (c) Emilio Concari, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Emilio Concari. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (6/28/2022). (c) sercfisheries, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Robert Aguilar, SERC. (MBP list)

Chain Pickerel in Anne Arundel Co., Maryland (6/13/2019). (c) Max Ramey, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC). Photo by Max Ramey via iNaturalist. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel falls prey to a Common Loon in Baltimore Co., Maryland (2/17/2019). Photo by Jay Schroeder. (MBP list)

A Chain Pickerel falls prey to a Red-throated Loon in Baltimore Co., Maryland (2/17/2019). Photo by Michael McCloskey. (MBP list)


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