Prairie Pike

Shaun and I set out Monday morning to go check out a pike lake on the prairie after a tip from a shop regular. It was a balmy 25 degrees when we loaded the boat up and headed out of town, and we were hoping it would warm up a tad before we arrived. Shaun's rig was loaded up with a number of 8 and 9 weights, several densities of sinking line for each, and a small briefcase packed to the gills with pike flies. As usual, we weren't sure we had enough stuff. After driving down 20 miles of gravel road with grass growing down the center of it and filling the boat up with prairie dust, we arrived at the lake. The boat launch left a little to be desired, as it was only about 6 inches wider than the trailer wheels. We got the boat thrown in, and frantically rigged up three or four rods with a variety of different flies and different densities of sinking lines. We rowed out a whopping fifty yards from the launch, and Shaun grabbed the intermediate tip Outbound on an 8 weight. He made a couple casts, and on the third he let the chartreuse 6 inch Piketola Minnow sink a bit further, and strip set into a fish on the third jerk. While it wasn't a monster pike by any stretch, a fish in the first few minutes is always a good indication of things to come! A few casts and a couple minutes later, a solid pike in the 8-10 pound range followed the fly to the boat, and quizzically studied it for a moment. The fish seriously had it's nose on the tail of the fly, and it was within just a few feet of the boat. I was trying not to move the boat or the oars or myself to risk spooking the fish. Shaun twitched the fly, the pike followed. Another twitch, and the fish blew up on the fly two feet off my oar and a six inches under the surface - it's exhilarating fishing to say the least! When a thirty-some-inch fish with a serious attitude problem attacks your fly a couple feet from you, it gets you going. After a good pulling match between the 9 weight and the fish, we slipped the Boga Grip into it's mouth. High fives were had, pictures were taken, and the fish went back into the water, complete with a sassy kick from it's tail splashing water over us. In my opinion, the draw to pike fly fishing is the eat. There's nothing in fly fishing like seeing a mean ass fish with a mouthful of teeth chasing your fly down and crushing it, oftentimes in very close range. Pike fight well, and it's often a chaotic minute or minute and a half while the fish gives you everything it's got by jumping, rolling, running, and just going crazy in general. It's quite a change to go from fishing a 4 weight and dry flies for trout to manhandling a 9 weight and flies that are sometimes pushing 10 inches long, but it's a hell of a lot of fun!
Shaun with a nice pike that ate  a couple feet from the boat! Shaun with a nice pike that ate a couple feet from the boat!
Over the next several hours, we saw, hooked, and landed a lot of pike. If we saw a fish it was almost a guarantee that we could get it to eat. There were several times that I would cast out and let the fly sink, and after a couple strips the fly would get batted to the side. A couple more strips, and it would get swatted the other way. Eventually after a few tries on the fishes part, the fly would get T-Boned! It's an exciting way to fish. After catching fish consistently over the next several hours, it started to slow down and we worked our way back to the truck. We'd been messing around with different colors and patterns, but I put on the old standby - a 2/0 Chartreuse Piketola Minnow. A few casts later I caught an average one - around 3 pounds or a touch better. Not huge fish by any standards, but a hell of a lot of fun to catch! Several casts after that, I was slowly retrieving the fly back and there was a strange 'bonk' feeling in the line between strips, and I instinctively set the hook. It was a strange feeling, and it took me a few strips before I actually came tight to the fish and got a feel for the size of it. After we connected, the fish zipped from the shoreline side of the boat, under the boat and out in to the center of the lake. After a pulling match and an alligator roll at the side of the boat where I was sure we were going to lose the fish, Shaun Boga Gripped the fish. While it wasn't a huge pike, it was a sassy 10 pounder and it was a ton of fun!
Corked Corked
If I had to estimate, we probably landed between thirty and three dozen pike - a pretty solid day overall! Pike fishing is just getting going around the area, and should be great through the end of May. We still have room in our pike class next Tuesday, April 19th here at the shop as well - give us a call at 605-341-2450 if you want to reserve a spot! Ryan