Outdoors

Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2001

The sun had not yet come up as I slide the small fiberglass boat into the lake and quietly paddled the boat towards the creek that emptied out of the small lake. The air was cold and crisp as I moved along through the weed bed in the early morning darkness.

I thought of my gloves that were hanging in my room at the Veco camp and how much nicer my cold wet hands would be feeling if had brought them along. I also thought of the other members of my crew who were still snuggling in their beds as I moved slowly across the lake. My hands were getting numb from the cold and peered into the darkness looking for the creek. But this was Northern Pike fishing in Beluga Alaska and I wasn't about to let cold hands and darkness stop me from enjoying this special opportunity.

On two previous early morning trips to the creek area of the lake I spotted pike feeding above the beaver dam about 30 yards down the creek. However on both occasions I allowed my boat to drift too far down the creek and spooked the pike out of the shallow water before catching one. This morning my plan was to put the boat on the weed bed above the creek and fish the creek before spooking out the pike.

I eased the boat on the weed bed near shore and decided I probably didn't need the anchor to keep the boat from drifting down the creek. The wind was quiet and the shallow water was like glass above the beaver dam. A small wake told me that the pike were feeding near the dam again this morning. I cast my silver Johnson weedless spoon near the dam but still in the center of the creek and began reeling slowly. Waiting for the pike to smash this lure and provide the fight that these predator fish are famous for. I cast the lure a second time with no success in hooking a pike but could still see the wakes as these fish were still in the creek feeding.

I switched to a surface bait and slowly worked the surface but again had no luck. I switched to a Mepps giant killer spinner but still no luck. The sun was just coming up as I snapped a fluorescent orange 7 inch Rapala on my swivel. I cast the bait into the middle of the creek and let the ripples disappear. I then twitched the bait a couple of times as I watched the motion again send ripples across the water. I waited again till the ripples disappeared and then twitched it again two more times, trying desperately to make this floating bait look like a dying minnow. Still no luck as I watch the ripples disappear. I then moved the bait about six inches and BINGO! The huge pike smashed the lure with such force that his momentum carried him out of the water. The fight was on and l soon put the net under a nice Northern Pike. The pike was only 32 inches long but very heavy and weighed approximately 13 lb.

1 was patient and let the pike make the mistake instead of me. Keeping the boat out of the creek entirely didn't spook out the feeding fish. I caught several other pike that morning using a variety of bait including one on a black rubber worm. One of the pike had a mouse inside of it and the one in the creek had four Dollies about 8 inches long each. Yes these fish are terrific feeders but really are a lot of fun to catch.

They have gotten a bad name in Alaska for feeding on salmon but yet I'm told that certain rivers have good salmon runs and also good pike fishing. Even though you always find Dollies and Rainbows feeding on the eggs of spawning salmon I have yet to hear anyone here in Alaska complain about the damage they are doing to the salmon run? Please help me understand this, how much damage do feeding trout do to our salmon runs.

I really enjoy the year round opportunity that pike fishing provides and also like them on the table too. Even if it means I have to fish in the dark by myself before work in Beluga Alaska.

See you next week!



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