Monday, September 17, 2007

Day Three (Pike on the Fly Day)

If you target them, they will come. That’s the saying. It’s true. In my notes last year I reminded myself to fish for pike between the sevens – when smallie on the fly is down somewhat. I did that for pretty much this entire day. Started out picking a couple up in the AM on a giant streamer I modeled after one tied by a DNR fellow. In the afternoon, the fellas wanted to take a break – I paddled out solo and picked up three more nice little Esox – all on the same pattern. Then in the evening – two more to round out a seven-pike-on-fly-day. None of these fish were big – they were consistently 3-4 lb fish. They just “jump on” is what I always think in my head as I’m fishing… strip back fast, do nothing special, don’t worry about setting hook… and they’ll just jump on the line. Seems to work. One missing piece was a monster pike on the fly (or any monster pike for that matter) – several of us vowed to catch the leviathan sighted last year, but nothing came of it. They are wicked looking animals – scary as hell in some sense. Put your mind between the eyes of a baitfish and think of this water wolf layin’ in the cut just waiting for you… the ambush pounce (northern pike have one of the fastest burst speeds of any freshwater fish – faster than salmon even – fish that need that burst speed to get up rapids) then your either dead or squealing through your gills as you flee your little tail left and right… then darkness and teeth and then nothing… whoa.

Six of the seven pike I caught this day were on that giant, sparsely tied streamer that looks like a doofy and cripped baitfish. One other little one hit a popper as I probed woody debris for smallies.

This is the one fish that wore out while I landed it – not exactly sure why. I spent some time in the shallows reviving it… Seemed to be okay – upright and mobile – gills flaring… However, as soon as I left Baldy jumped off her deadhead and swooped down – missed the first time, but on the second she rose from the water with this fish in her claws – a tough end for what must have been a confusing bout for that pike. I can rationalize my way through it by saying that that pike will just take the place of another fish that otherwise would have become eagle food… does that work?

All day the guys continued to feed camp with walleye fillets – just machines when it comes to that. Here is a picture of Dad performing the standard processing at shore. The walleye are usually consumed within 0-1 hours of swimming their last.

Here is Dad getting’ piggy with a fatty smallmouth. We caught a ridiculous number of fish in this size range – they were particularly vulnerable to bait, but I managed a few on flies too. This fish is quite stunning in its own right.


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