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|Redfin and grass pickerels|
|Redfin pickerel, E. americanus americanus|
|Grass pickerel, Esox americanus vermiculatus|
J. F. Gmelin, 1789
Esox americanus americanus J. F. Gmelin, 1789
The American pickerels are two subspecies of Esox americanus, a species of freshwater fish in the pike family (family Esocidae) of order Esociformes: the redfin pickerel, E. americanus americanus Gmelin, 1789, and the grass pickerel, E. americanus vermiculatus Lesueur, 1846.
Both subspecies are native to North America. They are not to be confused with their aggressive counterpart the Nothern Pike. The redfin pickerel's range extends from the Saint Lawrence drainage in Quebec down to the Gulf Coast, from Mississippi to Florida, while the grass pickerel's range is further west, extending from the Great Lakes Basin, from Ontario to Michigan, down to the western Gulf Coast, from eastern Texas to Mississippi.
The two subspecies are very similar, but the grass pickerel lacks the redfin's distinctive orange to red fin coloration, its fins having dark leading edges and amber to dusky coloration. In addition, the light areas between the dark bands are generally wider on the grass pickerel and narrower on the redfin pickerel. These pickerels grow to a maximum overall length of 40 cm (16 in) and a maximum weight of 2.25 pounds
The redfin and grass pickerels occur primarily in sluggish, vegetated waters of pools, lakes, and swamps, and are carnivorous, feeding on smaller fish. Larger fishes, such as the striped bass (Morone saxatilis), bowfin (Amia calva), and gray weakfish (Cynoscion regalis), in turn, prey on the pickerels when they venture into larger rivers or estuaries.
These fishes reproduce by scattering spherical, sticky eggs in shallow, heavily vegetated waters. The eggs hatch in 11–15 days; the adults guard neither the eggs nor the young.
The E. americanus subspecies are not as highly prized as a game fish as their larger cousins, the northern pike and muskellunge, but they are caught by anglers. McClane's Standard Fishing Encyclopedia describes ultralight tackle as a sporty if overlooked method to catch these small but voracious pikes.
Lesueur originally classified the grass pickerel as E. vermiculatus, but it is now considered a subspecies of E. americanus.
E. americanus americanus is sometimes called the brook pickerel. There is no widely accepted English common collective name for the two E. americanus subspecies; "American pickerel" is a translation of the systematic name and the French brochet d'Amérique.
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- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2004). Esox americanus americanus in FishBase. October 2004 version.
- Froese, Rainer, and Daniel Pauly, eds. (2004). Esox americanus vermiculatus in FishBase. October 2004 version.
- "Esox americanus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 5 December 2004.
- Weinmand, M.L.; Lauer, T.E., "Diet of grass pickerel Esox americanus vermiculatus in Indiana streams." Journal of Freshwater Ecology 22-3 (2007): 451-460
- Midkiff, E.S.; Tarter, D.C., "Diet and growth of larval and juvenile grass pickerel Esox americanus vermiculatus, and centralmudminnow, Umbra limi, in the Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area, Cabell County West Virginia." Proceedings of West Virginia Academy of Science 68- 2-4 (1999): 37-46
- Weed, A.C., "Pike, pickerel and muskalonge." Field Mus Nat Hist Zool Leaflet 9 (1927): 1-52
- Cain, M.L.; Lauer, T.E.; Lau, J.K., "Habitat use of grass pickerel Esox americanus vermiculatus in Indiana streams." American Midland Naturalists 160-1 (2008):96-109
- Lachance, S., "Report on the situation of the Redfin Pickerel, Esox americanus americanus, in Canada." Canadian Field-Naturalist 115-4 (2001): 597-607