Why remember to be in awe of pike—and chase them on the fly
the first component you notice is only how imply they seem. Even their grin is dastardly. And after they open their mouths, overlook it. Northern pike can be essentially the most sinister fish within the freshwater universe.
Their graceful, streamlined our bodies are made for the chase, and their mottled, armored scales make sure them a definite advantage from the very start — this excellent camouflage makes it possible for them to lie in look ahead to unsuspecting prey and remain nearly invisible while doing it. And with one push from that large tail, they go from zero to full sprint instantly. Or so it looks to any fly fisher who’s lucky ample to chase these fish now and again.
in case you ever simply wish to think about pure terror, think about current as a walleye in a lake populated through pike. Yeah, you’re variety of a foul-ass yourself, with your personal set of wonderful incisors, and the minnows and whitefish reside in concern of you. but you’re the junior varsity, truthfully. The decent news? likelihood is, in the event you do turn into dinner for a 40-inch water rocket, you won’t comprehend it except that huge white maw opens up, sucks you in, clamps down and starts to saw you in half. It’s over earlier than it begins.
For us anglers who’re lucky enough to forged flies at rangy pike in the boreal lakes of the north, it doesn’t take long to appreciate the predator and the way it doesn’t just … feed. The pike doesn’t sip its prey or without difficulty devour. It assaults its food, in all probability with a violence now not displayed through every other universally pursued online game fish in freshwater. Flies, when the pike are on the feed, don’t final lengthy. Wire leader kinks and fatigues. bite tippet? Don’t trouble. just resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to be altering your rig. lots. believe taking a vise and some basic tying materials — you really can’t go pike fishing with too many flies.
It’s all concerning the teeth. Rows of them. Rows of jagged, broken glass that grip and hang. And tear and shred. There are teeth in front, teeth to each side, even teeth in the roofs of their mouths. There are enamel in the back of the gill plates — just ask any angler who has incorrectly tried to cling a pike up for the hero shot and recoiled with a finger or two that appear to be hamburger. When their mouths open, pike turn into messengers of certain loss of life. When their jaws are closed, they put on that evil smirk — a figuring out leer that serves because the herald of doom.
Northern pike might possibly be the ideal predator. in the lakes and tannic rivers of the black spruce and birch forests that method the Arctic, where winters don’t definitely go away, they just take a number of weeks off, pike always seem to be ingesting, likely as a result of they should. It takes toothy mouthfuls of hapless whitefish, suckers, walleye and grayling to fuel a killing machine.
For fly fishers, there’s nothing improved than a predator with an attitude to fit its mouth. For saltwater anglers, barracudas and sharks check that container. In freshwater in less warm climes, pike are the fish that elicit those “holy hell!” moments. One 2nd, you’re observing your popper or gurgler slip over a weed mattress, and the subsequent, a hole looks within the lake and a violent tail slap adopted with the aid of a dive and some cussed head shakes is your reward. once in a while, they’ll scream from the depths and erupt from the water like an ICBM. different instances, they will simply give chase, and toy with the fly simplest to assault as the streamer or popper is about to leave the water for the next forged. Nothing frustrates a pike like a meal that gets away. very few ever do.
they’re inherently curious, one other effective nugget for the fly angler. The greater gawdy the fly, the extra interest it looks to attract. The more water it moves, the greater strikes it’ll elicit. The brighter the color, the extra aggressive the strikes.
And when the fly fisher is lucky sufficient to join with a huge northern (or a small northern, for that count number), that aggression and angle translate into a special variety of panic. When a large pike realizes the crimson, yellow and pink critter that appeared so appetizing (or anxious) a moment earlier than has bitten returned, the need to live to tell the tale trumps the need to eat.
You’ll hear from a couple of angler that pike are bad combatants. tell that to your aching forearm after a day spent tempting pike with topwater gurglers.
No, they’re not going to peel off yards and yards of fly line or go on reel-screaming runs. they can and should take you into your backing, but more than possible, big pike are going to dive deep, tangle themselves up within the weeds or wrap your leader around a shoal rock and easily refuse to come back at hand. They pull. difficult. do not agree with the gear angler armed with a saltwater rod and a spool of 50-pound mono — these fish fight for their lives.
Pike might be the ideal fly-rod fish. The publications of the north nation are used to gloving up and untangling pike from plugs and lures armed with treble hooks. When a native Dene, Cree or Chippewa e book receives the cling of quite simply eliminating one hook from the jaws of a pike, you’ll fish extra, and you’ll fish more desirable. There is no fight with pliers (youngsters a group of jaw-spreaders is a good idea) — it’s a short liberate, and you’re casting once again. Your pal with the equipment? They must take a seat and stay up for the e book to navigate the various hooks that have develop into embedded in that white maw (or, if you’re in your personal with out a book, you’re going to be fishing while your companion is busy with all these teeth).
Pike chase flies identical to they chase a Rapala or a Mepps or a tender-plastic swim bait. You don’t must forged terribly far, both. definitely, to be able to cowl water and put the fly in entrance of extra fish, a long cast is valuable, but, actually, a major percent of strikes and eats comes within simply a few feet of the boat or the dock. When fishing around structure, your common trout solid will serve you smartly. in case you can fish a hopper up in opposition t a cut financial institution, that you could put a gurgler tight against a weed mattress. in case you can fly fish for bass or redfish, you’ve bought all the tools for casting to pike.
however might be the better part about fly fishing for pike is the place you’re should you do it. even if you’re at some northern Minnesota pike retreat or a fly-in lodge within the wilds of the Canadian interior, you’re going to be fishing in one of the most unblemished nation left on the continent. You’ll be where wolves howl at night under the dancing aurora, bears wander the shores of the lakes and moose dip their noses into the water and pull out succulent vegetables. in case you’re lucky, you’ll return every night to a basic north woods fishing lodge, where a cocktail and video game of darts or pool awaits while the aromas of dinner waft in from the kitchen. and you’ll lay your head down on a delicate pillow amid the confines of a small cabin and fall asleep, where the goals come handy.
And if you’re lucky, you’ll dream of pike.