Springtime Fishing for Chain Pickerel

(Illustration: Charles Weiss)

I like to travel the province of Nova Scotia to explore and fish for chain pickerel.

Lunenburg County has a lot of water. Where do you start?

The little chain pickerel is a fierce and worthy catch. It’s a free biter and a tyrant among smaller fishes in the water.

I stopped in at the Bridgewater Home Hardware store and asked an attentive clerk about fishing for chain pickerel in the area. 

As we examined the colourful rows of fishing lures on display he mentioned Wentzells Lake, a wider section of the LaHave River with roadside access.

The lake is about 10 km north of town. He also mentioned Lake William north of Barss Corner, with a small picnic park at the top of it.

I thanked the clerk and bought a small surface lure, the “Choppo” with a rear spinning propeller.

At Wentzells, I started by casting out small inline spinners, spinner baits, shallow diving minnow style lures and a top water bait – making repeated casts through the water to various depths. 

A sudden swirl and splash on the water surface would reveal a biting fish. 

Lure sizes 3 to 5 inches caught most of the chain pickerel. Colours of a contrasting hue of white on the bottom and black or brown were consistent in attracting bites. Gold and orange lures were good for fishing murky dark water. Sometimes casting out and letting a lure float, then slowly retrieving it, proved irresistible to the long mean fish.

Pliers were helpful to remove hooks quickly from the fish’s mouth after being caught. 

I killed and cleaned two fish I caught for dinner by filleting them with a sharp knife. 

They are a tasty, lean fish when fried.

Charles Weiss is an artist and writer living for the past few years in Pleasantville. He is originally from Southern Ontario where he illustated and wrote editorial stories for newspapers and magazines including the Toronto Star and Real Fishing magazine. He regularly exhibits his paintings and sculptures in Lunenburg Art Gallery.

Ed. note: Chain Pickerel is an invasive species in Nova Scotia and should not be transported between waters.


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