Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Toothy Critters


I have always been fascinated by Northern Pike. I'm not sure if I was supposed to capitalize that, but pike are the kind of fish, that if you met them at a party you would call them sir. Pike are a type of piscatorial aristocracy with only two tracks running through their brains-

Track 1 "It fits in my mouth."

Track 2 "It does not fit in my mouth."

Sort of like "I can drill here for oil/ I cannot drill here for oil."

When I was a child a family friend told me he could guarantee me a pike. I was used to fishing for bluegill and trout and perch. I was utterly floored by the thought of a fish that had a mininimum size limit of twenty inches. Never mind that a twenty inch pike is a fairly scrawny and sorry fish, the very idea that you can't even keep one until it is that big was astonishing to my young mind.

And so we set out one evening on a small local flooding. It was a pleasant midsummer eve with a dying breeze that finally gasped its last leaving the water's surface polished and smooth as a molten mirror. And this was the key factor in my friend's guarantee- when the sun and wind drop and all is still the pike hunt one last time before the night forces them to go dormant, and this still molten surface is what betrays them.  Before long we saw an enormous boil on the burning surface. We paddled that direction and I cast to the dissipating rings. John Sherman was true to his word and I caught a 24 inch pike, the biggest fish of my young life.

one of those picture perfect pike lakes

Fast forward through many years. Fast forward through the rest of my adolescence, Drivers Ed, Salutatorian, NYC, marriage, the birth of India, Detroit, Ohio (I still smell of sulfur), G&L Bagwell, Detroit again and then back up North. North- my home where many of the lakes are indistinguishable from the ones you see in the Canada brochures, all of which are teeming with pike. I have spent many evenings throwing spoons and spinners for pike for the sheer rod-jarring hell that is pike fishing. I do it for the romance of these lakes, the cry of the loons and my curses echoing off of the cedars. I get hurt every time I target pike- bit, hooked, cut by line. My standard first-aid kit serves me well, consisting of hockey tape and ibuprofen. If you can't fix it with those two items you need to be Medevac'd.


I started fly fishing as soon as I could after I moved back North. Five years ago I sold all my other gear or gave it away, and except for a couple rods for perch I fly fish exclusively now. It is a choice. Fly fishing is so trout-centric that it has left a hole in my Northern identity until now, a hole I plan to remedy. I am going to fly fish for pike. I'm not paving any new ground, just getting back to my roots without going back to gear.

Tom Hazelton with musky bait

So plan on seeing some posts here about pike and musky. Flies, gear, fishing, trips, pics. Several posts are in the works. One expedition is in the bag and several more are planned.

I am afraid. Very afraid.

my friend Ethan Winchester of Boyne Outfitters with a good pike

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