It’s 3:45 AM. We get in the car and hit up the local Foam Burger shop and send it to the river. Fishing stories are shared, but Pike does most of the story-telling. The funny thing about fishing for Esox is the more you want to catch one, the less likely it seems that one will take your fly. It is sporadic and chaotic. A slow twitching strip may entice a monster, just as a rapidly retrieved fly can produce a gentle follow, and even a kiss.
We were armed with a fleet of 4 vessels; two fishing kayaks, a canoe and a float boat. The float started at 6 AM with Bum missing a take at the first log jam. Good way to start the day. I’m paddling for Pike, watching Bum as he pounds the underwater structure. Pike tells me to pay attention to what he’s doing, and the places he fishes hardest. You could tell he liked a spot when he would turn 180 degrees in his fishing kayak, floating backwards as he’s casting deep upstream, trying to get one last chance at his target. “I think we should cast over there too…”
I get hung up at the bank of a log jam. Pike gives me some shit for snagging a fallen tree, and we paddle over to retrieve my pink and white fly. We were making jokes the whole morning of how it looked like a bird drowning in the water, a perfect meal to a fish with hundreds of teeth. I cast parallel to a big log in the water and Pike gives me a little more shit.
“Dude we just went over that spot…”
“Yeah but the pike doesn’t know that.”
Before I could finish my thought I watch as my fly disappears, and see the fat white belly curl upwards and dart off to the side. Fish on. “That’s a nice fish dude!” I didn’t even need to set the hook, the fish practically swallowed my fly. He took me for a little ride, and under a log. Coach Pike was a good help, chirping in my ear, “Break that things will dude! Get him out of there, get him up!” He’s clenching the net, as I hold on for dear life. I lift my rod and guide the fish out from under the log jam. I hear my rod splintering as the pike gets loose of the logs and goes for a run down the river. I have 50 pound test attached to a wire leader, the monster is hooked good too, and he can’t break my system. The first net attempt botched as the fish barely would fit. We get him on the second.
The fish puts on a show and tail-walks out of our net as soon as he is de-hooked. The fish gods gave me a brake and somehow we got the pike back in the net a third time and were able to document a fish to dream about.
On a side note, I caught this fish while Austin Green was filming for his documentary “Pursuing Esox”. I feel lucky, not only to be able to get a fish like this into his movie, but to have everyone there to share the moment with, because in the end, that’s what its all about. The pursuit. A crew of anglers desperately in search of a strike, and happy to share the moment with whoever is lucky enough to land a fish. And this happened…