Esox niger
Esox niger
(Chain Pickerel)
Native Transplant
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Esox niger Lesueur, 1818

Common name: Chain Pickerel

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Pflieger (1975); Page and Burr (1991); Etnier and Starnes (1993); Jenkins and Burkhead (1994).

Size: 99 cm

Native Range: Primarily the Atlantic Slope from southwest Maine to southern Florida, but some populations exist above the Fall Line (Lee et al. 1980); Gulf Coast west to Sabine and Red drainages, Texas; Mississippi River basin north to Kentucky and Missouri (mostly Former Mississippi Embayment, but also upland streams in southeastern Missouri) (Page and Burr 1991). Hubbs et al. (1991) list as native to eastern Texas. For a detailed description of the distribution and range map, see Lee et al. (1980). Crossman (1978) also has a distribution map.

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Puerto Rico &
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Guam Saipan
Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences: Chain Pickerel has been introduced into unspecified areas of Colorado (Crossman 1978; Page and Burr 1991); the Connecticut River, Connecticut (Webster 1941; Whitworth et al. 1968); areas of Florida south of Lake Okeechobee (Kushlan and Lodge 1974; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); eastern Indiana (Crossman 1978); eastern Iowa (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky (unsubstantiated) (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.; Burr and Page 1986), northern Kentucky (Crossman 1978); Acadia National Park in Maine (Tilmant 1999;) numerous upland waters throughout the state (Halliwell 2003); Chesapeake Bay drainage, the ridge and valley area, and the Ohio basin of Maryland (Lee et al. 1976); nonnative areas of Massachusetts (Hartel 1992); Lake Huron, Potagannissing Bay near Rogg Island in Michigan (M. Ebner, pers. comm.); eastern Minnesota (Crossman 1978; Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); Three Mile Lake and Sutherland Reservoir, Nebraska (Morris et al. 1974; Crossman 1978); New Jersey (Morse 1905); the Lake Erie drainage and the Adirondacks, Lake Ontario, Schroon Lake, and Piseco Lake in New York (Crossman 1978; Emery 1985; Lee et al. 1980; Smith 1985; Whittier et al. 2000; Cudmore-Vokey and Crossman 2000); many areas of Ohio (Trautman 1981; Burr and Page 1986; Hocutt et al. 1986), including Long Lake (Crossman 1978); possibly the Oklahoma-Texas border in the Red River (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); the Youghiogheny River and the Lake Erie drainage, Pennsylvania (Hendricks et al. 1979; Emery 1985); Vermont (Lee et al. 1980 et seq.); the New drainage and Fairystone Reservoir, Smith River, Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994); the New drainage and the main channel of the Ohio River in West Virginia (Hocutt et al. 1986; Stauffer et al. 1995; Jenkins and Burkhead 1994). Introduced into Nova Scotia, Canada (Lee et al. 1980).

Means of Introduction: Intentional stocking in most areas; may have gained access to south Florida through artificial canals.

Status: Established in many areas. Reported from Kentucky.

Impact of Introduction: This species has been documented to naturally hybridize with E. lucius (Herke et al. 1990).

Remarks: A report of a single collection from the Ohio River, Kentucky, is unsubstantiated (B. Burr, personal communication).

References: (click for full references)

Anonymous. 1994.  Fish Stocking Report. Texas Parks & Wildlife News (February 25, 1994). 18 pp.

Boogaard, M.A., T.D. Bills, and D.A. Johnson. 2003. Acute toxicity of TFM and a TFM/niclosamide mixture to selected species of fish, including lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) and Mudpuppies (Necturus maculosus), in Laboratory and Field Exposures. Journal of Great Lakes Research 29(Supplement 1):529-541.

Brokaw, R.K. (updated by J. Lucas). 2008. Chain pickerel assessment. Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Divisions of Fisheries and Planning. Available:

Burr, B. - Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.

Burr, B.M., and L.M. Page. 1986. Zoogeography of fishes of the lower Ohio-upper Mississippi basin. Pages 287-324 in C.H. Hocutt, and E.O. Wiley, editors. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Clearwater, S.J., C.W. Hickey, and M.L. Martin. 2008. Overview of potential piscicides and molluscicides for controlling aquatic pest species in New Zealand. Science & Technical Publishing, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Wellington, New Zealand.

Crossman, E.J. 1978. Taxonomy and distribution of North American esocids. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 11:13-26.

Cudmore-Vokey, B., and E.J. Crossman. 2000. Checklists of the fish fauna of the Laurentian Great Lakes and their connecting channels. Canadian Manuscript Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 2500: v + 39 pp.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). 2006. Recovery strategy for the Atlantic whitefish (Coregonus huntsmani) in Canada. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa, xiii + 42 pp.

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO). 2011. Recovery potential assessment for Lake Utopia rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) designatable units. DFO Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Advisory Report 2011/004. 18 pp.

Ebner, M. - Soo Tribe Inter-tribal Fisheries and Assessment Program, Sault Ste. Marie, MI.

Emery, L. 1985. Review of fish introduced into the Great Lakes, 1819-1974. Great Lakes Fishery Commission Technical Report, volume 45. 31 pp.

Etnier, D.A., and W.C. Starnes. 1993. The Fishes of Tennessee. University of Tennessee Press, Knoxville, TN.

GLMRIS. 2012. Appendix C: Inventory of Available Controls for Aquatic Nuisance Species of Concern, Chicago Area Waterway System. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Halliwell, D.B. 2003. Introduced Fish in Maine. MABP series: Focus on Freshwater Biodiversity.

Hartel, K.E. 1992. Non-native fishes known from Massachusetts freshwaters. Occasional Reports of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Fish Department, Cambridge, MA. 2. September. pp. 1-9.

Hendricks, M.L., J.R. Stauffer, Jr., C.H. Hocutt, and C.R. Gilbert. 1979. A preliminary checklist of the fishes of the Youghiogheny River. Chicago Academy of Sciences, Natural History Miscellanea 203:1-15.

Herke, S.W., I. Kornfield, P. Moran, and J.R. Moring. 1990. Molecular confirmation of hybridization between northern pike (Esox lucius) and chain pickerel (Esox niger). Copeia 1990(3): 846-850.

Hocutt, C. H., R. E. Jenkins, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1986. Zoogeography of the fishes of the central Appalachians and central Atlantic Coastal Plain. Pages 161-212 in C.H. Hocutt, and E.O. Wiley, editors. The Zoogeography of North American Freshwater Fishes. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.

Hubbs, C., R.J. Edwards, and G.P. Garrett. 1991. An annotated checklist of freshwater fishes of Texas, with key to identification of species. Texas Journal of Science, Supplement 43(4):1-56.

Jenkins, R.E., and N.M. Burkhead. 1994. Freshwater Fishes of Virginia. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD.

Kushlan, J.A. and T.E. Lodge. 1974. Ecological and distributional notes on the freshwater fish of southern Florida. Biological Sciences 37(2):110-128.

Lee, D.S., A. Norden, C.R. Gilbert, and R. Franz. 1976. A list of the freshwater fishes of Maryland and Delaware. Chesapeake Science 17(3):205-211.

Lee, D.S., C.R. Gilbert, C.H. Hocutt, R.E. Jenkins, D.E. McAllister, and J.R. Stauffer, Jr. 1980 et seq. Atlas of North American freshwater fishes. North Carolina State Museum of Natural History, Raleigh, NC.

Marking, L.L. and T.D. Bills. 1985. Effects of contaminants on toxicity of the lampricides TFM and Bayer 73 to three species of fish. Journal of Great Lakes Research 11(2):171-178.

Morris, J., L. Morris, and L. Witt. 1974. The Fishes of Nebraska. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, NE. 98 pp.

Morse, S.R. 1905. Fresh and salt water fish found in the waters of New Jersey, part I. Annual Report of the New Jersey State Museum. MacCrellish and Quigley, State Province, Trenton, NJ.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Pflieger, W.L. 1975. The Fishes of Missouri. Missouri Department of Conservation. 343 pp.

Robison, H.W., and T.M. Buchanan. 1988. Fishes of Arkansas. University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, AR.

Scott, W.B., and E.J. Crossman. 1973. Freshwater Fishes of Canada. Fisheries Research Board of Canada Bulletin 184. 966 pp.

Smith, C.L. 1985. The Inland Fishes of New York State. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. 522 pp.

Stauffer, J.R., Jr., J.M. Boltz, and L.R. White. 1995. The Fishes of West Virginia. . Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.

Tilmant, J.T. 1999. Management of nonindigenous aquatic fish in the U.S. National Park System. National Park Service. 50 pp.

Trautman, M.B. 1981. The Fishes of Ohio. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, OH.

Webster, D.A. 1941. The life histories of some Connecticut fishes. Pages 122-227 in State Board of Fisheries and Game. A fishery survey of important Connecticut lakes. Connecticut Geological and Natural History Survey 63.

Whittier, T.R., D.B. Halliwell, and R.A. Daniels. 2000. Distributions of lake fishes in the Northeast - II. The Minnows (Cyprinidae). Northeastern Naturalist 7(2):131-156.

Whitworth, W.R., P.L. Berrien, and W.T. Keller. 1968. Freshwater Fishes of Connecticut. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut, Bulletin 101.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Fuller, P., J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro

Revision Date: 1/30/2015

Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016

Citation Information:
Fuller, P., J. Larson, T.H. Makled, and A. Fusaro, 2018, Esox niger Lesueur, 1818: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 1/30/2015, Peer Review Date: 4/1/2016, Access Date: 3/22/2018

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [3/22/2018].

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