Esox niger
Lesueur 1818
Family Esocidae

Lateral view of chain pickerel
The chain pickerel shown above were collected in Dixie County, top, Walton County, middle, and Escambia County, bottom. These fish are now part of the Florida Museum ichthyology collection. Top: UF 238041 Middle: UF 187727 Bottom: UF 237780 Florida Museum photo by Zachary Randall

The chain pickerel is a member of the pike and mudminnow family. It has a large, duckbill-like snout. There is green, chainlike patterning on adults and wavy, yellow bars on the juvenile. This species’ fins are yellow or dusky green, and it has between 14 and 17 branchiostegal rays. It has a long and cylindrical body, and can be found in lakes, ponds, swamps and pools and backwaters of creeks and small to large rivers. Chain pickerel are usually found near vegetation.

Status & distribution

  • Status — Native freshwater
  • Florida Distribution — Western and North Central and Peninsula drainages
  • River Drainages — Perdido River, Escambia River, Blackwater River, Yellow River, Choctawhatchee River, Econfina Creek, Apalachicola River, Ochlockonee River, minor Gulf tributaries, Suwannee River, Tampa Bay, Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee River, the Everglades and the St. John’s River
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