The chain pickerel ranks as the most aggressive of all game fish. Though primarily fish eaters, pickerel they will take just about any kind of food, including frogs, crayfish and mice. Their explosive strikes and desire to attack just about any kind of lured offered to them, make them a favorite of young and old anglers alike.
While native to Maine, the home range of the pickerel stretches far beyond our state boundaries, to far into the Midwest and southern United States.
According to Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists, most pickerel caught in Maine range from 14-19 inches and average 2-3 pounds. The state record, caught in 1992 in Androscroggin Lake weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces. The largest pickerel ever caught was a 9-pound 6-ounce fish caught in Georgia in 1961.
Members of the Esocidae family of fishes, pickerel are closely related to Muskellunge and Northern Pike. Pickerel have scaled gill covers and green bodies marked by yellow-green areas broken by dark, interconnecting lines resembling the links of a chain. This unusual color pattern provides this ambush predator with excellent camouflage for staking out edges of weed beds where it prefers to lay silently in wait for prey.
Pickerel posses a mouth full of razor sharp teeth that serve to both protect the fish from predators and provide unsuspecting anglers with an unpleasant surprise.
When water temperatures begin to rise in the spring, pickerel move into the shallows to spawn. Females lay gelatinous strings of eggs up to 3 feet long over vegetation, sticks and logs which are then fertilized by the males. After fertilization, the parents abandon the eggs, forcing the fry to fend for themselves. In the wild, pickerel live approximately 7-9 years.
Wildlife Quiz Questions:
1. What do pickerel prefer to eat?
2. Are pickerel native to Maine?
3. What is the home range of the pickerel?
4. What is the average length and weight of an adult pickerel?
5. What was the biggest pickerel caught in Maine?
6. How can a pickerel be identified?
7. What feature of the pickerel must anglers be very careful to avoid?
8. How long do pickerel live in the wild?
Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. Pickerel prefer to eat fish but will also eat frogs, crayfish and mice.
2. Pickerel are native to Maine.
3. Pickerel range far into the Midwest and southern United States.
4. An average adult pickerel is 14-19 inches long and average 2-3 pounds.
5. The largest pickerel caught in Maine weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces.
6. Pickerel can be identified by their scaled gill covers and green bodies marked by yellow-green areas broken by dark, interconnecting lines resembling the links of a chain.
7. Pickerel posses a mouth full of razor sharp teeth that can inflict bad wounds on unsuspecting anglers.
8. In the wild, pickerel live approximately 7-9 years.
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