The chain pickerel is one of the few species of Mid-Atlantic gamefish that generally bites better through the winter months than through the summer. Still, even during the colder months of the year, if you want to hook into a whopper pickerel it will take some specific tactics and a targeted effort. Ready to get out there and make it happen? These winter pickerel fishing tips will help.

angler caught a toothy pickerel
Those teeth are sharp! Fortunately, however, pickerel aren’t leader shy. Go with 20-or even 25-pound fluorocarbon and you’ll land three times as many fish as you would using 15-pound test, which pickerel are able to snip through in short order.
lure fishing for pickerel
When you’re winter pickerel fishing, no matter what tactic you focus on always bring a plug or spoon you can toss out and troll as you go from spot to spot. Sometimes you’ll end up catching more pickerel trolling from A to B than you will trying anything else, even if your plan is to fish live baits.
bait fishing for pickerel
Pairing a bucktail or dart with a minnow? You never know what color will prove best until you try it, but white and the classic red/white are always good starting points. The majority of the time, one or both of these will turn out to be the most effective offering.
netting a pickerel
Pickerel are so full of bones that most anglers release them; if that includes you, be sure to use a net with rubberized mesh to minimize injury to the fish. Never catch-and-release with a knotted nylon mesh net, which scrapes the fish’s slime off.
releasing a pickerel
During the depths of winter the bite will often be best towards the end of a sunny day, when the water has warmed up a bit. But when water temperatures are 50-degrees or above, expect sunrise to be red hot.

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