fishing for pickerel

Fly Fishing For Pickerel: What You Need To Know

Do you love fishing for pickerel? If so, you need to know about the best techniques and strategies for fly fishing for this species. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know in order to be successful when fishing for pickerel.

We’ll cover topics such as where to find pickerel, what lures and flies work best, and how to land these fish. So whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, read on for some helpful tips on fly fishing for pickerel!


Chain Pickerel

Chain Pickerel is a freshwater fish that is native to North America. It is closely related to the pike family and muskellunge, and like these other fish, the Chain Pickerel has a long, slender body and a pointed head. The Chain Pickerel gets its name from the chain-like pattern of spots that runs along its sides.

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These fish are typically greenish-brown in color, with darker spots on their backs and lighter spots on their bellies. Chain Pickerel are found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. Most pickerel prefer a more shallower water than deeper water where there is plenty of aquatic vegetation for them to hide in.

Chain Pickerels are predators, and they will eat just about anything they can fit into their mouths, including other fish, amphibians, reptiles, and even birds. When fishing for Chain Pickerel, anglers should use trolling crankbaits or artificial lures that imitate small prey.

Pickerel is not considered to be the best anglers target just like the bass fish, as they can be quite bony. However, some people do enjoy eating pickerel if the bones are carefully removed.

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Where To Look For Chain Pickerel?

Northern pike is one of the best big-game fish for fly fishermen to try to catch, but they are hard to find and catch and mostly live in northern waters. Now that you know a little bit about the Chain Pickerel, let’s talk about where to find them.

As we mentioned earlier, these fish are typically found in ponds, lakes, and slow-moving rivers. They prefer areas with thick vegetation, as this provides them with places to hide.

One of the best ways to find chain pickerel is to look for strike zone areas where live bait is abundant. Pickerel will often congregate near areas where there is a lot of live bait available.

Another good way to locate pickerel is to look for structures such as logs or rocks that they can use for cover. They will hide, then jump out of hiding to catch their prey or your fly. They can be found in water that is only a few inches deep near the shore or in weed beds that are 20 to 30 feet deep.

Most anglers catch pickerel in shallow water a few feet over a weed bed that was just coming up. In the middle of sunny days, you may find pickerel near the weed edges in deep edges water.

Pickerel Behavior

fishing for pickerel chain

Pickerel Live Alone, Hunt By Sight, And Don’t Usually Go Far To Find Food.

Most of the time, you’ll find them hiding in water plants and not moving until they catch their prey. They are good hunters because they can go from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, and their needle-like teeth help them catch their prey.

Even though smaller pike will eat invertebrate baits and can even be seen leaping after flying insects, they soon switch to eating smaller lures such as fish, minnows, weeds, frogs, crayfish, and even mice.

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Chain Pickerel Are Ambush Predators.

They wait for their prey for a few seconds to swim by while hiding close to a structure or in deep weedlines and facing a deeper water weedless spoon. Top water flies that move a lot of water can be a very effective bait to lure a pickerel.

Nevertheless, it is exciting to see a caught pickerel eat a fly bait like minnows on the surface. Pickerel often miss the fly or hit it without getting hooked, so experienced anglers don’t set the hook when the fish strikes.

When this happens, the fish often turns around and attacks again. Subsurface patterns should look like baitfish, and flies that move randomly and make noise will get more bites.

Chain Pickerel Fishing During Winter

During the winter ice fishing for winter, pickerel is still possible. Chain pickerel stay in shallow water, so there’s no need to use sinking in line spinners to dredge the deep holes towards deep water. Look for water that is between five feet and 10 feet deep, though some ice fishermen will tell you to look even deeper.

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1. What To Bring To Catch Pickerel

Fly Rod:

A thien long rod with a weight of #5 to #8 will work for almost any kind of chain pickerel fishing, except for looking for swordfish in deep water. Many great American companies make fly rods, but rods can break easily, especially when you’re just starting, so it’s best to spend a little more.

Reel And Fly Line:

Fly rods come with suggestions for what size reel to use. The lighter the line weight, the smaller the reel should be. A backing is tied to the colorful fly line, which is usually made to float.

This is how the reel is connected to the line. The line is tied to the fly by a clear leader. Leaders for smaller fish, like trout, come in lower weight sizes like 4x or 5x. For larger fish, like steelhead or stripers, 1x or 2x may be better.

Flies Work Best To Catch Chain Pickerel:

Like their larger cousins, pickerel bites are quite enormous. Pickerel have mouths filled with razor-sharp teeth. These teeth, as well as sharp gill plates, give them the ability to rob fishermen of their expensive fishing flies and lures. In chain pickerel fishing, all lures are called “flies,” and although they don’t always look like flies.

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Two Main Kinds Of Lure Flies
Dry Flies

Glide on the water’s surface and can look like anything from aquatic bugs. Examples of these include mayflies to land bugs like grasshoppers and even mice and frog baits in some places.

Wet flies

Bait includes everything from streamers and “Wooly Buggers” that look like reef fish to fake yellow perch, worms, trout eggs and the larval stages of aquatic insects. A very good example of this is the Johnson silver minnow spoon.

Your choice of fly will depend on where you’re going and what you want to catch, but you should know that fly sizes run backwards: the lower the number, the bigger the fly.

Bait Based On Water Level

When anglers fish below the surface they use a frog pattern. On the other hand when catching pickerel on the surface use live shiners or Johnson silver minnow spoon. Most of a chain pickerel’s diet is made up of other live lures.

But like their bigger cousins, the pike and muskellunge, they rarely turn down other foods when they come along. In lakes, pickerel often attack frog patterns or other floating bass bugs that are fished near lily pads or other shoreline structures.

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Net, Waders, And More: 

Net, waders, and more: The best fishing spots require that you don’t keep your latest catch, but instead let them go. Basic gear like nippers or forceps to pinch barbs or take hooks off, tippet to attach new flies to the leader, and good wading or water shoes are good to have. If you plan to go somewhere with colder water, waders can help.

A Fine Cooler:

The size you should bring will depend on how long your mission in the open water is and whether you’re wading in the river or on a boat. For shorter boat trips or if you have to walk a long way to get to the river, a small, soft-sided model that you can sling over your shoulder works great. No matter what, put a lot of ice and at least a few Bell’s Two-Hearted IPAs in it. As people drink their beers, there will be more space for your catch.

2. Keep Hold Of Those Flies!

During chain pickerel fishing, anglers will need to use a short bite tippet in their rod tip to keep the pickerel bite off in their main line. A bite or shock tippet is a piece of heavier line or wire that is added to the end of your existing tippet to protect it from sharp teeth or wear during chain pickerel fishing.

3. Be Mindful Of The Bite Tippets Length

Depending on the panfish you’re trying to lure, the length of the shock/bite tippet can be different. A bite tippet that is six inches to a foot long is enough for chain pickerel backwater sloughs

Tips On Pickerel Fishing

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Fish Linear To The Edges Of The Weeds.

Chain pickerel like to hang out in deep edges near weeds, plants, and submerged wood, where they can ambush their prey as it swims by. If you fish near the edges of weeds, your baits will stay in the strike zone for the longest time. And pickerel will see your bait coming and have a chance to lure it when it passes by.

Looked For Baitfish Through The Back

I said that baits should be hooked through the rear instead of the mouth. More so than most animals, pickerel eat with their heads first. If you hook your minnow through the lips, the hook will go further into the pickerel’s throat. When you take the hook out, it might die.

Water With A Lot Of Dirt In It

Whenever the ice falls in the spring, it fills up bodies of water, ponds, and rivers with dirty water that forces fish to swim in very shallow water. This time period is not all year round; it only lasts a few days, but it can be the best time to fish for pickerel all year.

Cast Weedless Baits

Cast weedless baits like spinnerbaits, minnows, frogs, and weeds as close to the water’s edge as you can. Pickerel, bass, and other aggressive species will come to the noise of the lures. Anglers will lure a lot of bass and pickerel that are hungry and trying to get bigger before they spawn.

Pickerel Are Caught On Bass Baits

Don’t make pickerel fishing too hard. Pickerel can be caught with the same baits that lure largemouth bass. Pickerel eat a lot of the same things that bass do, like baitfish, minnows sunfish, mice, frogs, and small snakes.

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A Point In The Main Lake That Have Vegetation On Them Bring Fish

A point sticks out into the lake. This makes baitfish that are swimming along the shoreline gather at the point, where bass and pickerel can eat them. If you find a point on the main lake that has a lot of plants, that is a great place to do fishing

Not All Vegetation Is Good For Fishing

Most anglers only look for weeds like cattails and lily pads that stick up above the water. But often, underwater weeds hold better pickerel habitat than emergent weeds.

Baitfish and pickerel can get a lot of food from cabbage and other underwater plants. You might need a fish finder to find these weeds, but when you do, they can be great places.