Sunday, May 17, 2015

Stripping for Lake Pike

The pike and walleye season opened up in the Upper Peninsula on Friday. I have been waiting for this season to open up since moving here. I have been reading old fishing reports and talking to locals every chance I get in order to hone in on a perfect spot to enter the season. Last weekend I prepped for this quasi-holiday by tying up some fist-sized fur fish. 

While in Traverse City I picked up some materials from The Northern Angler. The Northern Angler has an honest staff and a great selection; one of my favorite fly shops anywhere. They had 99% of what I needed, the rest I got from Orvis Streamside down the street.

When I woke up this morning fog was rolling in from Superior and the forecast called for an overcast morning with possible light showers. I strapped on the kayaks and we headed to the lake. 

The first hour brought much stripping and not a single fish. I was pretty discouraged; maybe I had the wrong bug, maybe the fish weren't hungry, maybe maybe maybe... The wind was also a dampening factor.

In an attempt to get out of the wind for a bit we holed up on the leeward side of rocky island. Seeing the remnants of last year's weeds and reeds I drew out some line. I found a beaver dam and cast toward some of the surrounding riprap and litter. The fourth or fifth strip following a rather ungraceful presentation resulted in a solid tug on the line. I set the hook and the little hammer-handle was ready to play.

I thought for sure this juvenile esox was a loner and that his bigger brothers would be in the deeper basins. Luckily, I was very very wrong. 

Chelsea loves pointing out my ridiculous hook up face. Priceless.

Kraken boils...

Up to this point I have not truly understood the need for a Boga Grip, however, after several close calls I definitely need.

Here's a nice thrash shot from one of the bigger pikes. He came up to the boat a few times and then dove back down. I need to rethink my GoPro POV for the kayak. I am thinking about engineering some sort of third-person style above boat view. Any ideas or plans would be greatly appreciated. I am not against making alterations to my deck to achieve a proper POV.

Yesterday I read the short piece in The Flyfish Journal about pike on the fly. That piece really resonated with me. The name of the author is escaping me at the moment, but he wrote very passionately about sight-fishing pike. I read the intro to Chelsea aloud. He described the intense rush of seeing the golden underside of their throat flash as they swipe at your fly. I have been the disappointed witness to that scene dozens of times. 

Running across that piece tomorrow was the perfect way to introduce Chelsea to the world of apex northwoods predators on the fly. After several fish, I switched bugs and put on one made from Icelandic sheep and craft fur; a pretty neutrally buoyant fly. I kept my strips short and fast. He was swimming about 10 inches below the water when we both saw the lightening-fast swipe and roll. I paused between quick strips and the fish again came out of nowhere and took the fly hard. (Check out this video for an awesome slo-mo pike strike on "Mike the Pike" lure: 11100306_862351750503543_599885733_n.mp4 )

I brought several 30" fish into the boat. Definitely the biggest pike that I have ever caught, but nowhere near trophy fish. Guess I will have to keep trying. 

The fog continued to sit on the lake as we paddled back to the launch.

We are very fortunate to live here, this is God's Country: what a wonderful place to spend a Sunday morning.

Next weekend: more teeth, bigger teeth, longer fights, more smiles and paddling.


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