Wednesday, July 9, 2014

First Pike on the fly

    I just got back from our annual family trip to Michigan's' Les Chenaux Islands.  2014 marks 100 years of my mom's family visiting this area.  The traditions, family, and friends, really make this place special.  As my mom said one day the "scenes stay the same, the players just change".
      Our house is located on the far western edge of the islands chain, in Mismer Bay.  We have a mainland house, but many of the folks in the area spend their summers on one of the many islands.  I love the opportunity to dig out my Nano Puff and soft shell since the weather is always a bit cooler. (On this trip I lived in my Patagonia Guidewater pants. They are so comfortable and they did a great job keeping the bugs off)
    As you can imagine, fishing and boating are a huge part of the local culture.  Perch, Pike, and Smallmouth bass are some of the most popular species to chase but folks also fish for Salmon, Lake trout, Musky, Rockbass, and a few other species.

        Pike fishing has always been a big deal to me.  I guess it must have started when I was a kid.  My parents would walk out on the public pier with us and let us look in all the fisherman's buckets of live fish.  Some guys had buckets full of perch, but many had 1 or 2 large pike sitting in their buckets.

       Most of them used large spinning rods with huge bobbers and 6-8 inch live Chub minnows.  To a young kid it was all pretty impressive.  When I got old enough to begin fishing more on my own, my parents often tried to get me to fish for Pike, but I resisted for a long time because, as they tell me, I was afraid " of getting pulled into the water".  I guess I didn't really understand how a rod and reel worked.  Anyway, I made a point of never fishing with anything that might remotely interest a pike. This phase only lasted a few summers.  From then on I tried everything to catch pike and was often around when one was caught but never caught one myself.

        When I began working at D&H, I of course wanted to catch my first Pike on the fly.  Our bay is mostly sand bottom with huge piles of rocks scattered around at various depths (makes for fun boating).  Our house sits on a rocky point that attracts fish hunting for sculpins, crayfish, or other creatures.  It has become a pretty regular routine for me to go out on the rocks before or after dinner and cast off the rocks until I lose too many flies, the bugs get to me, or it just gets dark.  I often come in soaking wet after trying to retrieve big clousers and deceivers off the rocks.  My family has had a few laughs regarding all this, especially since I have only caught a few fish this way.  Generally, I expect to get smallmouths in this area.
   Tuesday night I went out to cast before that evenings cocktail party.  I literally had nothing on me except my rod.  After just a bit of casting, I noticed a fish following the fly almost to the base of the rock I was standing on.  Just as I finished my retrieve it took the fly and I realized it was a pike.  I caught it on a fire tiger clouser I had tied for pike.  I was using a Sage 4200 reel and Rio's Pike/Muskie intermediate/floating line.  I really like this line.

     I was super excited.  I yelled to my mom to grab my camera.  I think she was probably more excited than I was.  She began snapping a ton of pictures.  I took my time and admired it before releasing it.  When I took the camera to check out the pics I realized that in her excitement, my mom had missed several of the "grip and Grin" pics.  I still got some nice pictures.  It wasn't huge, but it was fat and I was proud.  I hooked another pike later in the trip, but had forgotten to put on bite wire and my fly got chewed off.

Delamere & Hopkins

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