Fishing Northern Pike

July 20, 2010 by  

Our Outdoors: A Pike in the Hand
By Nick Simonson

Not once but twice, the devil’s fork tail turned short just feet in front of the dock at the family cabin. The fish, a muskie of nearly four feet in length had given chase, even bumping the lure halfway through my first retrieve, and exerted a considerable rush of effort before slamming on the brakes and making a u-turn in the blink of an eye – make that both eyes. On back-to-back casts the fish of ten thousand casts showcased it’s ability to thrill, frustrate, and vanish, all in just a few moments.
fishing northern pikeAfter shouting to my brother the details of what I had just witnessed, he jumped from the dock into the Grumman and began cranking the lift down into the water. Within a few moments, he fired up the motor and pulled to the end of the dock. I stepped from the end of the dock, onto the bow of the boat and began my fervent casting once again. Letting my brother know that the weekend’s company would be arriving soon, he agreed to stay in the area in front of the inflowing creek near the cabin.
A few dozen casts over the east edge of the delta produced nothing, and the buzz from my esox-induced adrenaline overdose began to fade. Pounding the water with the custom baits I had tied earlier this year, my brother and I tried frantically to call the fish back in with the thump of the dual magnum blades and pulsating skirts. I was crashing from a combination of the recent rushes of the near misses, a two-bratwurst lunch, the repeated hurling of half-pound baits with a telephone pole for a fishing rod and my four a.m. wakeup call, courtesy of calling loons early that morning.
As we continued our onslaught, making two passes over the sandy-bottomed inflow, my brother and I commiserated on the topic of the hour and wondered what was that caused muskies to bail at the last moment, when their kin, the more aggressive and less selective northern pike would smash a bait at first blush. As we guessed away at the reasons, I eyed two large patches of thick weeds bunched up just at the edge of the creek delta.
I completed my figure eight at boatside and seamlessly transitioned into my cast, loading the eight-foot rod with the clanking metal and shimmering flash of the heavyweight spinner. It hurtled through the air, splashing down like the winner of a belly flop contest. I engaged the reel and the blades began thumping their way toward the grass patches. As the lure buzzed the first clump of weeds, a green missile darted from the ether and smashed the bait. My rod doubled and I hollered out “fish on!”
It took a few seconds to gauge the size of the fish as the sunlight traced the edges of the green monster, and it was a blur as it swam some thirty feet from the boat. It was a mid 30-inch muskie by my first estimate; not a monster by any means but at least I was finally on the board with a beast. I battled it to the boat and saw it turn revealing a side filled with white spots and a menacing grin. It went from being a low-end muskie to a high-end northern in just a matter of minutes.
Thick from head to tail, the pike made a number of powerful runs next to the boat, bringing the tingle back to my fingers and sending the endorphins back through my bloodstream. Once in the net and quickly held aloft for the camera, the fish measuring just over the 32 inch mark swam off toward the weed patches, leaving me with a feeling of success and fulfillment. Even if it wasn’t the exact member of the esox family I had been looking for, it was still one of the biggest pike I had caught on our little lake in my life.
I smiled at my brother and we figured the fish was a worthy consolation prize for our efforts and headed in to meet our friends for some afternoon events. For whatever reason, I was sure glad that pike were more aggressive than their fussier finned family members…in our outdoors.


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