The Mrs. and I were discussing what we should do for the holiday weekend last week and coming up short. The prospect of catching a couple kings wasn't looking too hot and although there were reds to be had, the thought of fishing and camping elbow to elbow with tons of folks didn't exactly fire us up either. We've been slamming the rainbows in the local lakes with our little tinboat but had a yearning for something different.
The wife suggested that she would like to finally tie onto a northern pike if we could get to somewhere where the odds of success would be good. Thursday morning I put in a call to Trail Ridge Air to inquire about their unguided pike flyouts. A quick chat with Daniel confirmed us for Sunday morning at 7:30am to fly to Alexander lake. The trip includes a nice boat with outboard, in our case a pretty nice 4 stroke 6hp Mariner, a landing net and plenty of gas. All we brought was raingear, thank goodness, lunch and bug dope, along with our rods and tackle.
We reported to Lake Hood at 7 Sunday morning, got all checked in and payed up and hopped in our taxi. Our pilot, Adam, who was a pleasure to fly with and a good man behind the controls, explained to us that we were taking the PA12 because this would be one of the busiest days of the summer and all the bigger planes were booked solid all day. We flew low the whole trip to stay under the weather and had an awesome view of the muskegs and meadows, counted 59 moose from the air. When we landed and unloaded our gear we all had a laugh after Adam told us that our pickup at 6 would be a Beaver and I remarked that they must have a lot of faith in our fishing skills to be bringing the flying dump truck to take us and our catch home!
Neither me nor the bride had any real good ideas about where or how to fish for pike, but I figured that I would fish them like I did largemouths when I was growing up and see what happened. We motored upstream about 100 yards from the lodge, tossed the anchor and started pitching a jerkbait and a scumfrog back into the weed edge. Sure enough, bam bang boom!, we were in business on the first cast. Even with the drizzle the toothy torpedoes were hitting the topwaters hard and fast. We found that depending on how big an area we anchored in after we caught 3-10 fish their cronies would get wise and we'd have to motor along a little ways to try a new spot but almost nowhere we stopped failed to produce as long as there was cover.
We we had the place all to ourselves, had a nice picnic at the lodge, and against every instinct I have after spending money on a fishing trip, had a peaceful hour nap in the open cabin at the lodge, what the heck it was pouring rain by then anyways. We decided to get back after the fish when the rain letup a little, but found that the harder rain had turned them off the topwater lures, didn't seem to deter them from smashing our bass spinnerbaits into twisted wire junkyard sculptures. We found a nice wide spot in a backchannel to anchor up and proceeded to put the hammer down. Amazing amounts of fish to be caught, if we went five casts without hooking up it was a simple matter of swapping lures and you were back in the game. After about a dozen on the same spinner for her, I heard a gasp and turned to see my lady's mouth agape as she set the hook and the boat immediately started to move toward the huge swirl her line was disappearing into. Unfortunately after taking two 4 foot tugs off the spool in a rapid zip zip, the hook tore loose and she instantly had a "Big one that got away" story, we were both disappointed but happily went back to hooking 18-24"ers every couple casts.
About 25 minutes after the near miss with the Leviathan I made a long cast upstream and started a fast retrieve to get the blades going. I knew something big was about to happen when a saw the bulrushes along the shore start to part and a huge vee start accelerating toward the flashing spinner. All at once the spinner suddenly disappeared in the gin clear water. I thumbed the spool on my shiny new Calcutta 400 and gave three sharp hooksets to try and get the single hook buried into some bone. I'm sure I was babbling like an idiot to my wife, she takes great pleasure now in retelling the story and shouting,"get the anchor up, no get an oar, no wait the anchor, no no the net get the net". After a 5 minute battle with some creative language pertaining to Lilly beds and threats to the folks at Lamiglass, Shimano, and Maxima if anything were to break we managed to wrestle the beast into the boat.
Now don't get me wrong, I like catching salmon as much as the next guy, but it pains me to kill a fish that is an old big specimen of any species. But the rules are the rules so the old girl got the bat, along with a traincar full of smaller fish although we only brought about 20 of the larger ones home with us for a future fish fry in the backyard with friends.
We finally headed the boat out into the actual lake to fish the weedbeds after the rain quit, couldn't keep the toothy critters off of the spoons and the ladies favorite, the popping ScumFrog. Watched a pair of Mergansers putt around with their last chick and headed back to the pickup spot to get ready to go home.
In the end I can't say enough good about Trail Ridge, they were awesome in every way, if you've ever thought about doing this trip don't hesitate. The whole time we were fishing I kept thinking about how great a trip it would be to take some kids out for nonstop action. We will definitely be back when the bank account allows. May be a while though, my gal and my good buddies from Minnesota have talked me into getting a fiberglass replica made of the big one.