Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hybrid story

Here is a letter I received from state biologist Shawn Good. Have caught 2 so far this year. Not sure if this could count a 5th Vermont esox decide.

These northern pike – chain pickerel crosses are known to accidentally hybridize in Lake Champlain and other waters where they both occur, like Lake Memphramagog. It’s also been reported in the Great Lakes area. It is easy to confuse this natural hybrid with muskie, particularly for anglers who aren’t used to seeing and identifying muskie often.

We collected tissue samples from some of these hybrids on Lake Champlain a couple years ago, and had some genetic analysis done on them. The results show that they are male pickerel fertilizing female pike eggs. I don't think it's something they're doing on purpose (ie "pairing up"). I think it's a result of their spawning timing and locations overlapping, so that the two species are spawning in the same spots at the same time, and some male pickerel milt "drifts" in the water and ends up fertilizing some pike eggs. Odd weather patterns in the spring may be the result of the timing of the two species spawning closer together. A recent study suggested that pike and pickerel spawning might overlap more, and consequently we’ll see more hybrids, in the future as climate change changes spring warming patterns.


  1. I love fishing for toothy fish but never been in a region with pickerel. I would probably be one of those guys picking off the pickerel thinking they were muskies...after about 3 fish I would have said, "Wait a minute...this is far too easy for muskie." Good postin' man.

  2. I catch them all the time up sandbar way. Some guy and his gf brought in a 9 lber last winter they got through the ice. I tend to catch them more through the ice. Biggest I personally caught was 4 lbs or so but by the numbers of dinks being caught it seems as though their population is going to go high.. I think its pretty cool myself..