Thursday, November 11, 2010

Final Fall Fling?

On the Prowl for Pike-Photo Courtesy of Bill Gouge
So far this November I have been blessed by clear skies and relatively warm temperatures.  You know the kind that makes you wish you were on the water.  I am still busy with seminars but I did manage to sneak out on one of my local lakes for some late season pike on the fly.  Joining me was my friend Bill who had purchased a trip with me through a Trout Unlimited Canada donated trip I had provided in 2009.  Each year I donate a number of guided trips to Trout Unlimited Canada to support their efforts to conserve, protect and restore Canada’s coldwater resources.

Shoot to Target-Photo Courtesy of Bill Gouge
We had tried getting together only a few weeks before but cold windy conditions made use think otherwise.  On this day Bill and I were greeted by light winds, highs of 10C and beautiful sunny skies.  In the past my local lake had a warm water discharge that concentrated baitfish attracting lots of large nasty pike.  The plant that generated the discharge closed its doors and my pike magnet was gone.  The channel the outflow created has grown over and after an hour or so of prospecting we had nothing to show for our efforts.  I was a bit disappointed that things had changed but in many ways it was good that I would have to explore and learn new areas of the lake.

Bill's First Pike on the Fly
Thankfully my efforts paid off and Bill, who had never caught a pike on the fly, was rewarded with a decent fish, the best we would get for the day.  Bill got his fish on a variation of a Fire Tiger Half N Half I tied using Super Hair.  It got pretty beat up during the fight but thankfully synthetics comb back into shape pretty quickly.

Pike are Tough on Flies
We were using 9 and 10 weight rods, floating lines and Rio’s Toothy Critter leaders to start.  Once we had consumed the wire tippet after a few pattern changes I replaced it with some of Rio’s 20lb Knottable Bite Tippet.  Rio’s Knottable Bite Tippet is outstanding, durable and a dream to tie knots with.   Rio's Bite Tippet is so flexible and user friendly that I use my favorite knots that I use for traditional nylon and fluorocarbon leaders. 

The Knottable Bite Tippet also has a secondary function that some might not be aware.  It is excellent for large articulated flies such as those developed and popularized by Kelly Galloup.  It also works well for Intruder style patterns too.

I Almost Have It!-Photo Courtesy of Bill Gouge
It was an articulated pattern that I was experimenting with that lead to my getting my right thumb into a place it shouldn’t go.  One of my favorite patterns for pike is an all white Popsicle Leech.  I wanted to make a larger version of this proven pattern and after meeting and talking with Kelly Galloup I knew that articulation was the only way to go.  I decided to leave both hooks on the fly which in hindsight wasn’t quite the way to go as removing the trailing hook proved challenging as the pike refused to let go.  I am not a big fan of jaw spreaders as I worry about their effect on the pike and most times I end up loosing them when the pike shakes its head.  They spring free and pinball of the boat and typically end up in the water.  Often I am able to get my fingers under the chin flap of the pike causing it open just enough to reach in with a large pair of forceps and remove the fly.  So I began to work on getting my fly free.  I started by holding the pike in the water using my right hand.  Although I am left handed I have evolved into a hybrid of sorts doing many things right handed such as using forceps.  Somewhere in transferring pike between hands and fumbling with the forceps and fly my right thumb ended up in the center of the pikes mouth, as though it was sucking it.  It wasn’t too painful but those things can exert a fair bit of pressure.  The one thing not to do was pull my thumb out as this would have made a right mess. Part of my guiding includes education but this might have been taking things a bit too far.  Now the jaw spreaders came out and with a few seconds I was able to extricate my thumb.  I had a number of ‘pinholes’ on either side of the thumb and I was squirting blood for a few minutes which delayed my preparing lunch. Bill thought it was pretty funny, as did eye.  Thankfully it wasn’t a larger fish or my new nickname might have become ‘Stumpy’!

No Harm No Foul!-Photo Courtesy of Bill Gouge
It looks like now my season has drawn to a close, as there are lots of snow icons appearing on the weather forecast.  I am looking forward to the down time so I can turn my guns on planning and preparing for the 2011 show and fishing season.  I am sure if the weather warms up a degree or two so it is tolerable I might sneak out to find some open water somewhere.

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