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Hammering Pike on the Fly in Saskatchewan

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August 30, 2011

Hammering Pike on the Fly in Saskatchewan

By Kirk Deeter

Over 50 northern pike, four over 40 inches long, all in three days. All on the fly. And we're not done yet.

As many of you know, the late, great Charlie Meyers of the Denver Post was a mentor of mine. We fished together, wrote together, and told many stories along the way. Charlie had seemingly been everywhere in the fly fishing world, long before fly fishing travel was even a niche industry. And believe me, Charlie cut his own path. He walked away from a bush plane crash and once ventured up a jungle river to encounter a witch doctor (who cured a travel companion of shingles) on the Mosquito Coast of Nicaragua. He caught big tiger fish in Africa and of course, he did all the bonefish, permit, salmon, steelhead, etc., angles that most writers are recycling now.

Not long before Charlie died, the place he told me I had to go someday was Lake Athabasca in Northern Saskatchewan.

Well, now I'm finally here, and I completely understand what Ol' Charlie was talking about. Imagine one of the Great Lakes (scaled down just a touch), as it was 150 years ago, with the native lake trout, walleye, pike, and whitefish. Few boats, few people, clean water, eagles soaring overhead.

And as for those pike, they are big, nasty, and aggressive. And they pull hard. Anyone who discounts the pull-power of a northern pike hasn't caught a 42-incher on a 7-weight.

I'm staying at Blackmur's Athabasca Fishing Lodges, on a getaway with Chris Hunt, national communications director of Trout Unlimited (you can read his stuff at www.eatmorebrooktrout.com). It's perhaps a bit ironic that two of us "trout" guys are becoming pike junkies, but I'm telling you, it's all about the take. Sometimes you see that big dark shadow, you make the cast, it tracks your fly and it's all you can do to keep your knees from knocking as you strip that fly toward you. Sometimes, you're lazily skating a fly over a weed mat, and up from the depths comes a toothy ballistic missile that explodes on the surface.

And one fly-take by a big pike will change a man forever. Charlie knew that--thank goodness.

Comments (12)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Brian W. Thair wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Kirk: I'm glad that you are experiencing one of life's real treats = pike on the fly. R&W bucktails, streamers, 2/0 Muddler minnows: any favorites so far?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

that sounds amazing, remembering a lost mentor in a way he would want you to and catching pike on the fly, total bonus, interested in what you are using as far as leader lb test and tie-able wire, and flies...make a good follow up blog

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Also would make an excellent article for the magazine

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

I have few pictures in my office but one is of my first pike on a fly. Quetico 1988. Gaines popper. Remember it like it was yesterday.

Happy B-day old man.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Sounds awesome! I don't even know how to fly fish and I'd LOVE to do this some day!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Thanks for the birthday wishes, buck. Funny, I had the same idea about an angle for the mag. I will follow with more blog fodder, but the short answers are... We are tying our own flies... Very skinny, long flies like bucktails, but with synthetics mixed with grizzly hackle feathers. Main colors are reds, whites and purples. I'm throwing anything from a 7 to a 9... One floating line... My go-to rig today was a 300 g sink tip, about 10 feet long, with a cabela's pike leader with about a foot of 20 pound wire at the end. Caught 20 fish today, two over 40 inches.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

awesome, i look forward to more blog fodder, and happy birthday

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

interested thought regarding pike on the fly.... I was a guest of a lodge in Alaska one time on the Alagnak River. One of the things I was focused on doing was writing an article on pike fishing on the fly. I had tied up some long, tube flies to use. The Alagnak had some good pike fishing in the back water sloughs of the Alagnak. No guide wanted to take me. One guide said he would take me, but that I was on my own. He would not handle them, or take them off the hook. All the guides said they STUNK bad! They called them SNAKES!...and wanted nothing to do with them. I remember putting a stick in a pikes mouth, and getting a close up shot with my tube fly hanging out for the article I wrote.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Sounds like a blast! If I ever get to go north again I'll have to give it a try.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Nothing beats a washtub size swirl under a 2/0 popper on a smooth Canadian lake. The pike should move to the shallows in September, right?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Yes, they're already moving up...

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Nothin like those tube flies guys. Bait fish, good sized fly, that can be thrown easily because you can deploy a small hook, and use a wire leader to the stinger, insert hook as well.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from rdorman wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Also would make an excellent article for the magazine

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Thanks for the birthday wishes, buck. Funny, I had the same idea about an angle for the mag. I will follow with more blog fodder, but the short answers are... We are tying our own flies... Very skinny, long flies like bucktails, but with synthetics mixed with grizzly hackle feathers. Main colors are reds, whites and purples. I'm throwing anything from a 7 to a 9... One floating line... My go-to rig today was a 300 g sink tip, about 10 feet long, with a cabela's pike leader with about a foot of 20 pound wire at the end. Caught 20 fish today, two over 40 inches.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

that sounds amazing, remembering a lost mentor in a way he would want you to and catching pike on the fly, total bonus, interested in what you are using as far as leader lb test and tie-able wire, and flies...make a good follow up blog

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Nothin like those tube flies guys. Bait fish, good sized fly, that can be thrown easily because you can deploy a small hook, and use a wire leader to the stinger, insert hook as well.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Brian W. Thair wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Kirk: I'm glad that you are experiencing one of life's real treats = pike on the fly. R&W bucktails, streamers, 2/0 Muddler minnows: any favorites so far?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

I have few pictures in my office but one is of my first pike on a fly. Quetico 1988. Gaines popper. Remember it like it was yesterday.

Happy B-day old man.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jbird wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Sounds awesome! I don't even know how to fly fish and I'd LOVE to do this some day!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rdorman wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

awesome, i look forward to more blog fodder, and happy birthday

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Sayfu wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

interested thought regarding pike on the fly.... I was a guest of a lodge in Alaska one time on the Alagnak River. One of the things I was focused on doing was writing an article on pike fishing on the fly. I had tied up some long, tube flies to use. The Alagnak had some good pike fishing in the back water sloughs of the Alagnak. No guide wanted to take me. One guide said he would take me, but that I was on my own. He would not handle them, or take them off the hook. All the guides said they STUNK bad! They called them SNAKES!...and wanted nothing to do with them. I remember putting a stick in a pikes mouth, and getting a close up shot with my tube fly hanging out for the article I wrote.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ckRich wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Sounds like a blast! If I ever get to go north again I'll have to give it a try.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Nothing beats a washtub size swirl under a 2/0 popper on a smooth Canadian lake. The pike should move to the shallows in September, right?

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from kirkdeeter wrote 2 years 33 weeks ago

Yes, they're already moving up...

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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