Are Pike line-shy?
As a child growing up in Southeast Saskatchewan I would spend a large part of my spare time fishing with my brother, dad and grandpa. We would usually just go to one of our favourite local lakes and for the most part, we would catch fish consistently throughout almost any day we spent with a rod in our hands. Us boys loved catching Pike because they were relatively easy to catch and they put up a hell of a fight. Dad, however, often scoffed at their tendancy to “snarl” up your line, or get Pike slime on the carpet of the boat. That didn’t matter to us, we just wanted action…and if that’s what you’re after, the Esox Lucius is the fish for you!
We were always raised to believe that Pike are not line shy, and for the most part, I still believe that to be true…to a point. And that point is at about 40″ long.
The 40″ overall length of a Pike has long been the benchmark for many an angler, prior to calling themselves a “master” angler. However, anglers on Reindeer Lake often don’t receive a full tip of the hat until they have boated a 45+ incher. Now, this is no easy feat, even though an angler on Reindeer Lake will report numerous daily sightings of fish that calibre, not everyone is able to entice a strike. Now, obviously, the lure is of utmost importance. The size, type, colour, action and speed at which retrieved are all important factors when fishing for LARGE pike, and the significance of these can vary from day to day and even hour to hour. I have been in bays where I would literally have numerous small and medium sized Pike attacking my lure on each cast, however, when I would spot a real lunker laying in the weeds, I could often retrieve my lure past the nose of the Pike just to have it look only for a moment before going back to its ambush position and wait for something a little more convincing. Of course, when this happens, our first instinct is to change lures…which is considered by most a textbook manouever. It could be not what they are craving, or it could be that they are “conditioned” to that specific lure due it’s popularity among anglers in that region. However, when nothing in the tackle box works, what is left?
In my neck of the woods, a 45″ Pike can be over 30 years old, and in my books, that’s saying something. First thing that tells me is that the Pike, having spent every minute of it’s life in those crystal clear waters, has probably seen a thing or two. For example, it has successfully hunted, chased or ambushed thousands of other fish in it’s lifetime. Being that it has done so successfully, I can almost guarantee that there was not a 30 lb steel leader attached to it’s meal…see where I’m going with this?
It’s tough to convince “an experienced” fish that your metal spoon is a tasty meal when it is anchored to a highly visible leader…enter fluorocarbon. I started using fluorocarbon leaders in the summer of 2011 and I am now to the point where I will not use anything else. It’s easy to see for yourself. Just try an 18″ piece of 80 lb fluorocarbon attached to the end of your line and it will appear virtually invisible. Not to mention, your oversized lure will perform better using the softer and more flexible fluorocarbon, as opposed to the stiff metal leaders. I guarantee that you will boat more large Pike by enticing them to strike your lure…providing you have found the proper environment for the day, and the proper lure for the situation…but that’s another blog/another day!
Arctic Lodges, Reindeer Lake, Saskatchewan