Chain Pickerel - Esox niger

Chain Pickerel - Bill Byrne, MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Habitat requirements and life history: The chain pickerel, a native species, is the most common pike in Massachusetts. It inhabits clear, quiet water in lakes, ponds and rivers where aquatic vegetation is abundant. Chain pickerel spawn early in the year, ususally right after the ice melts. Females, attended by one or more males, broadcast their eggs in shallow water over submerged vegetation. Young pickerel feed on insects at first, but when they reach about 3 inches in length, they begin eating other fish, which is their principal food. A chain pickerel usually lies in wait in a weed bed and grabs the prey with its large mouth, which contains many, long sharp teeth. (Sources: Massachusetts Wildlife, No. 2, 2000, Special Fishing Issue and AMC Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New England)

Total length: 13-19 inches (older fish up to 24 inches)
Pollution tolerance (US EPA): Tolerant
Classification: Macrohabitat generalist

Number of fish found during 1954 & 2001 Fish Surveys*.

Location No. of Fish 1954 No. of Fish 2001
Assabet River 62 39
Assabet Brook   7
Danforth Brook 13  
Elizabeth Brook   5
Fort Meadow Brook   1
Hop Brook   3
Howard Brook 1  
Nashoba Brook 116 16
North Brook 15 2
Spencer Brook 28  
Total 235 73

*Sources:
DFW. 2001. Assabet Watershed Fish Survey. Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), Westborough, MA.

Schlotterbeck, L.C. and W.A. Tompkins. 1954. "A Fisheries Investigation of the Merrimack and Ipswich River Drainages." Bureau of Wildlife Research and Management, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA.