The game fish species in the waters of North America include members of the genus Esocidae, or the pike family, of which the chain pickerel is one. The Percidae family, the perches, has the yellow perch among its species, another sought-after game fish. The brook trout is actually part of another family of fish separate from the trout but still a game fish that offers anglers an exciting challenge.
In the water, the chainlike markings that give the chain pickerel (Esox niger) its name help to camouflage this stealthy and aggressive predator. The chain pickerel, which can grow as long as 30 inches in a huge specimen, has an interconnected series of lines that look like chains along its sides. These combine with its olive green color and white belly to make it hard to detect as it hides in weed beds waiting for prey to pass by. Chain pickerel are a common game fish in the eastern part of the United States, living in small ponds, lakes, reservoirs, rivers and streams. The fact a pickerel will attack and try to eat anything it is larger than works to the angler's advantage when pursuing these fish. Presenting shiners on tip-ups through the ice or under fishing floats is an effective strategy for pickerel. Another popular method to catch pickerel is to use flashy spoons, either trolling behind a boat or casting them and retrieving them at a moderate speed. The flesh of a pickerel is sweet, but the many bones in it make it difficult to eat.
The yellow perch (Perca flavescens) lives native to waters east of the Rocky Mountains in the northern states as far south as South Carolina. However, the species exists across much of the country now after its successful introduction into many states. The yellow perch is a particularly handsome species, with a series of vertical stripes on its green to yellow body. The yellow perch, which can grow to as long as 14 inches, is a game fish that lives in schools, with as many as 200 in one grouping according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission website. When you catch one yellow perch, the odds are that others are around. The fish is susceptible to many offerings, especially live minnows and night crawlers. Yellow perch stay active through the winter, making them a favorite target of ice anglers, who will typically try to catch them on small rods called jigging poles using downsized lures. Yellow perch is among the tastiest of all game fish, prompting anglers to bring them home by the bucketful on a good day.
The brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) is technically not a part of the trout family and is a close relative of the Arctic char, a game fish of far northern waters. The brook trout is native to cold clear streams in northern states like Maine, Montana and New York, but the effects of water pollution and loss of habitat has reduced their numbers drastically. Fortunately, brook trout raised in hatcheries and stocked into appropriate surroundings still provide anglers with action. Often called a speckled trout, the brook trout has a series of red-blue spots on their greenish flanks. Brook trout are an extremely wary species and often hide along the edges of stream banks shaded by bushes and trees. Catching one requires patience and stealth. Brook trout will fall victim to small spoon lures, flies and natural baits such as grasshoppers or earthworms.