Chain pickerel (Esox niger).
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I spent my childhood years in Ontario, back in the 1960s and was led to believe that walleye were called pickerel. It wasn’t until I was 30 and had moved to New Brunswick that I caught my first pickerel and learned they are not even the same species. What was that all about?

Pickerel also go by “federation pickerel” and in southeastern U.S. they are nicknamed “southern pike”.

Caught My First Chain Pickerel on The Fly

I feel lucky having hooked my first chain pickerel on the flyrod. Because it was a happy accident. A friend and I were actually fishing for brook trout on the fly.

Fishing A Flooded Forest on The Fly Rod

It seems like a very long time ago I had been visiting a flyfishing friend. Wayne was going to show me a little spot he wants to keep quiet about. He told me we would land some large brook trout on the fly.

When we arrived I could hardly believe that he expected me to actually use a fly fishing rod in there. The place was a stand of trees that had been flooded a couple of years before after busy beavers had blocked the flow of water and flooded a large patch of woods.

Wayne told me there were 16″ brookies living there. I didn’t call him a liar nevertheless I’d been considering it. However I became a believer soon after he landed the first 16″ brookie.

Fishing in trees was a brand new experience. I’d fished rivers and lakes for brookies using my fly rod, had even learned to deal with trees behind me but not a forest all about me.

I spent most of my time avoiding trees but did get some brookies. As usual when it comes time to leave I always have to get a few more casts. The second I lifted the fly off the surface for my final cast a pencil like 10 inch fish came flying out of the water and grabbed that dry fly.

I couldn’t imagine how intense that tiny fish was. That is the day I discovered the difference between a walleye and a pickerel.

Today I fish pickerel any chance I can. My personal best continues to grow from that first 10″ chain pickerel to 25 inches.

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