One Kingston, Ont., sports fisherman pulled in something very different — rarely seen in Ontario waters. “We immediately noticed there was something different about it,” says Cody Wheeler. Wheeler has been fishing since he was four-years-old, he said, adding his love for the sport was handed down by his grandfather. A week ago, his first catch of the day, off Wolfe Island, was a new species in Ontario waters — a Chain Pickerel. Cody Wheeler holds a Chain Pickerel he caught a week ago Wheeler holds a Chain Pickerel he caught a week ago.
“Apparently they are pretty new in the area,” says Wheeler, “only appearing around 2008 … as I have been told by some Ministry of Natural Resources employees.”
“It’s been in New York State for a number of years, for a long time,” says Colin Lake, a biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), “but we hadn’t seen it on the north side of Lake Ontario.”
Since the first sighting in 2008, there have been a dozen catches in Ontario waters reported to the MNR. “Most people would recognize them as looking very similar to a Northern Pike,” says Lake, “but they have got (this) really distinctive chain-like pattern on its side that gives it its name.”
The Ministry of Natural Resources has been collecting local data on the invasive species for years, asking that anglers report when they catch one.
In Canada Chain Pickerel occurs only in Nova Scotia (Digby County only, and was introduced there from the United States), western New Brunswick, and the Eastern Townships of Quebec south of the St. Lawrence River, including Lake Champlain.