Trophy Chain Pickerel hunt

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HIGHFLOW1402
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Trophy Chain Pickerel hunt

Ladies and gentlemen I am hoping that some of you may have some information on the whereabouts of some trophy (22"-26") chain pickerel water. I live in Philadelphia and have slowly been weeding through the dinks in New Jersey in some canals and pine barrens lakes how ever I've maxed out at about 17". I'm primarily fly fishing for them with large wooly buggers, clouser minnows, smaller game changers and the occasional popper and gurglers thrown in the mix. I'm open to suggestions on techniques, fly selection, gear and most appreciated of all bodies of water near or far that you can wouldn't mind sharing I'm fishing strictly catch and release for these guys and really am itching to get a good one! So with that said I'm hoping by winter I have a good little list of semi local spots with stacked chainsides that I can fish through the winter lull with a good deal of success. But I'm also very interested in some of the southern states (Florida,Georgia, etc.) for the trophy hunt. I have a little experience with New England chain pickerel but not much so really guys and state on the east coast if you know of a good body of water containing larger chain pickerel please share. Thanks all :) 

Birddog
Birddog's picture
Toronto Reservoir

Check out Toronto Reservoir in the Catskills of NY, not too far north of you.    I used to live near there and regularly caught BIG chain pickerel.     I haven't fished it in a long time, but have heard there have been water level issues in recent years, so do your homework before making a trip.   It is really a beautiful area.

Good luck!

Edited to add:   At one time -- not sure if it still holds -- the NY State record chain pickerel came from there.

Joel Spring
Author of "The Ghosts of Autumn" 2016 and "The Ultimate Guide to Kayak Fishing" 2017, both from Skyhorse Publications

HIGHFLOW1402
HIGHFLOW1402's picture
Very much obliged birddog you

Very much obliged birddog you name is the bees knees btw hahaha 

Susquehannock
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Sort of near Philadelphia....

The only trophy chain pickerel lake I really have any personal experience with is Memorial, up near Fort Indiantown Gap in (kind of) South-Central PA. I haven't fly fished it much, but I've caught plenty of sixteen to eighteen inchers and one around twenty-two on lures and bait there and have heard of some significantly larger catches. You'd probably be able to get into some fish if you rented a canoe (or took your own) and threw streamers and poppers at the edges of the big weedbeds. It also might be worth a shot to go down to the spillway. It gets pounded, but there 're still a lot of fish in there and I've caught some slowly fishing small streamers.

The lakes and ponds around Ricket's Glen also have a lot of dime a dozen small pickerel, but I haven't fished there enough to know whether there are any bigger ones. That could be worth a shot, though.

Susquehannock

philaroman
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my PB actually came from

my PB actually came from Nockamixon (sorry, no photo)...  not that long, but VERY robust throughout  -- I'd guess well over 4 & pushing 5 lbs. (that's WITHOUT any kind of fullness/protrusion of the belly, at all...  she was HONGREY)  the Nock doesn't have a big chain population, but what few survive the competition w/ Bass & stocked Musky/Striper to reach respectable adult size, can be some seriously prime examples of the species...  artificials can be tough going, due to heavy fishing pressure & pleasure boating/jetski traffic, but being a roughfish guy you should be able to catch some of the stocked alewife for bait -- that really rings the dinner bell for good-sized predators (esp. at dawn/dusk)

an even better option, if you can get in, is Penn Warner -- private/$$$...  need a member to bring you as a guest:

http://pennwarner.wm.com/index.jsp

P.E.T.A. sucks!!!  Plants are living things, too -- they're just easier to catch!

HIGHFLOW1402
HIGHFLOW1402's picture
Thanks guys !!

Thank you for the info guys means a lot ! I'm hoping for these guys to be my winter quarry when basically every other species locally is all but shut down for the winter. I'm told that if you are gonna target the big picks live bait is the way to go but as with most of my fishing lately I find the fly much more enjoyable and gain a much larger sense of accomplishment. But I'm open to any technique that'll land me a trophy chain side! Again I'm open to any body of water near or far be it a lake, canal, pond, stream, river, etc. 

Gecko7
Good luck with your quest.

Good luck with your quest. You may want to try some West Tennessee areas if you head south. Some of the oxbows off of the Forked Deer and Hatchie Rivers can be good. I've caught several in the 22" range in the past. I've never fished Oneal Lake in the Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge near Brownsville, TN, however, it is apparently full of chain pickerel. I did talk with an old guy who said he catches them regularly from 10" up to about 24" in Oneal.

Have fun!

 

HIGHFLOW1402
HIGHFLOW1402's picture
Thanks gecko !

Very good to know ! I've been wanting to fish the south you just might have given me an excuse!

Eli
Eli's picture
Probably further than you're

Probably further than you're willing to travel, but Nova Scotia has giant chains. Youtube nova scotia chain pickerel....

Eli

 

 

HIGHFLOW1402
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ONE DAY!!!

I've actually seen alot of those videos I think!! haha Id love to make it out there soon but for now the northern reach is maine for me. Im all over the idea tho all locations weklcomed and ecouraged !!! thanks Eli !!

HIGHFLOW1402
HIGHFLOW1402's picture
Update

Took the first trip to south jersey on the trophy hunt this weekend and while there were no trophy pickerel to be caught at the lake we choose to fish there were loads of run of run of the  mill pickerel and lots of slob yellow perch. I actually caught my pb yellow perch on the fly this weekend so not all was lost! We fried up some perch and had a blast but more importantly we put the time in and found another body of water that has all the boxes checked for trophy chainside water! The place is basically one giant weed bed with Lilly pad fields and sporadically placed grass bed. My buddy had the best luck on like minnows under a bobber and I had best luck stripping medium sized streamers just about the weeds and stumps. Maybe next weekend will be the one ! 

Eli
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Keep in mind too that the

Keep in mind too that the bigger esox would be easier to get once the water cools

Eli

 

 

HIGHFLOW1402
HIGHFLOW1402's picture
Yessir !

For sure definitely going to hit this lake and a few canals this fall and winter. Thanks again for everyone that contributed info or tips ! 

Corey
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Dude

Jeremy Dunfee would know more but when I was in Pennsylvania I wanted to check out Black Moshannon.