Redfin Pickerel - Esox americanus

Redfin Pickerel - Photo credit: Karsten Hartel

Habitat requirements and life history: The redfin pickerel, a native species, is the chain pickerel's smaller relative that is identified by it reddish fins and a tear drop bar that angles backward. Redfin pickerel inhabit slow streams, beaver ponds, and swamps with abundant submerged vegetation. They may leave streams to enter flooded swamps to forage in water only an inch or two deep. Like the chain pickerel, refin pickerel spawn early in the year, usually 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. They are small but voracious feeders that detect prey visually, and then catch it with a sudden, short rush. (Sources: Massachusetts Wildlife, No. 2, 2000, Special Fishing Issue, Freshwater Fishes of the Carolinas, Virginia, Maryland, & Delaware and AMC Guide to Freshwater Fishing in New England)

Total length: < 12 inches
Pollution tolerance (US EPA): Intermediate tolerance
Classification: Macrohabitat generalist

Number of fish found during 1954 & 2001 Fish Surveys*

Location No. of Fish 1954 No. of Fish 2001
Assabet River 285 61
Assabet Brook   2
Cold Harbor Brook 15  
Elizabeth Brook   7
Forth Meadow Brook 4 3
Great Brook 25 3
Guggins Brook   43
Hop Brook 16  
Mill Brook   7
Nagog Brook   4
Nashoba Brook 102  
Spencer Brook 4 15
Stirrup Brook 3  
UNT Assabet River   3
Total 454 148

*Data 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.