- Black sea bass have dangerously sharp spines on their dorsal fin that can puncture human skin.
- The all-tackle world record for black sea bass is 9 pounds, 8 ounces.
- When hooked in deep water and brought quickly to the surface, a black sea bass will often regurgitate its stomach contents.
Chain pickerel (Esox)
The chain pickerel is a long, slender fish with a duckbill-shaped snout and sharp, needle-like teeth. The coloring of the fish range from light green to brownish-green along the back, fading to a pale yellow underside. Chain pickerel can be distinguished from other pike by the black or dark green chain-like markings on their back and sides. The juvenile chain pickerel is steel blue in color and will not show the chain markings on their sides until they reach six to eight inches long.
Other ways to identify the chain pickerel are the single black vertical bar directly beneath the eye and the scales that cover both the cheeks and the gill covers.
Chain pickerel are located in the eastern portion of the United States and in parts of southern Canada. They have been found in isolated areas of Quebec, New Brunswick and have been introduced into parts of Nova Scotia. The chain pickerel is especially abundant in Florida and in the Mississippi River Valley waterways. The fish can be found naturally in the Cypress River drainage in Texas and have been introduced into some east Texas water sources.
Chain pickerel inhabit clear, slow-moving rivers or streams and heavily vegetated swamps, ponds and lakes. Chain pickerel prefer water temperatures varying from 60 to 80 F. However, they can survive in much colder water, depending upon the area.
The spawning of the chain pickerel occurs from December to May, usually immediately after ice-melt. Spawning in Florida is usually shorter: from December to February. Chain pickerel have been known to spawn a second time in the summer and fall if the water conditions are right. During the 7- to 10-day spawning process, water temperatures in the northern United States and Canada can range as low as 2 to 22 F. In the southern states, water temperature may be as high as 40 to 60 F.
Like other pike, the chain pickerel are random spawners. They spread eggs with a flick of their tails into heavily vegetated water that can range from a few inches to four feet deep. The eggs are about two millimeters in diameter and have a sticky coating that allows them to firmly attach to the vegetation around them.
Within two weeks, the eggs have hatched on their own, without the protection or assistance of the parents. The young then attach themselves to the vegetation and survive by consuming the remainder of the egg yolk. This process lasts for roughly a week. At this time the young are susceptible to many predators. These include larger fish, amphibians and waterfowl.
Young chain pickerel are omnivorous. As they get older and larger, they focus on larger prey. They have been known to eat insects, birds, frogs, mice and snakes as well as other fish, such as minnows, sunfish, catfish and even the weaker pike.
One nickname for the chain pickerel is chained lightning. The chain pickerel was given this name for its style of acquiring food. The fish lie in wait for its prey, hiding near or under vegetation. The pickerel will ambush anything it can swallow. This fish can be found hunting in shallow water in the morning and early evening. If necessary, the pickerel will move to deeper water if the weather becomes too warm.
Chain pickerel are considered a popular catch in the United States, but only in certain areas due to the pickerels tendency of attacking and destroying trout populations.
Chain pickerel are aggressive fighters once hooked, thus making them an exciting catch. They respond well to light tackle and to lures that float near or on the surface of the water. These include spinner baits, weedless spoons, plugs, crankbaits and jigs. Minnows are an excellent choice of live bait, because they are a mainstay of the chain pickerels diet.
The cooked chain pickerel has a good flavor and flaky, white meat. It is also very bony. In some regions, it is recommended that the skin be completely removed before cooking to prevent a weedy taste that sometimes occurs in the summer.
- Chain pickerel are extremely territorial. They have been known to attack and devour game fish of comparable size, especially trout. This type of pickerel is frequently used in fish management programs with the specific intent of controlling the sunfish population in Texas and other water sources.
- The largest chain pickerel on record was caught in Homerville, Georgia in 1961. It was 29.5 inches long, with a weight of 9 pounds 6 ounces.