We done it again!
Back from the land of the giant pikes! Where they grow slow, old and big!! Many people think we go there to get 50lbs pikes, but this is not the case. We have pikes as big here (Europe) if not bigger than Alaska, but its the huge amount of large pikes that makes this fishery soooo special!
Over there you are only interested in fish over 40 ( 103cm) , and by the end of the week if you are lucky to find good light, descent water clarity and not too much wind, you can sight fish for pike! Like the flats in tropical waters. The guide is such an asset to catching fish. More used to spot the big girls then you, they can put you onto THE fish. You might see a smaller one (110cm) and take a cast at that fish, but maybe behind there is that elusive 50 (130cm) sitting a little deeper. If the smaller fish takes your fly it's game over. It will surely spook that 50! And this is why we make that 20 000kms round trip, to catch trophies and not numbers. This is when the guide comes into action, they spot the fish, place you at the best angle and it's up to you now...Just don't f*ck up your cast and set that hook hard!
My boat partner, Dominique had a 47 (120cm) like this right beside the boat, about 5, 6 meters away from us! To see such a monster sit there, casting that little bunny fly...The fish turns! Its showing an interest....Heart pumping at this stage, one strip and she engulfed the fly right in front of our eyes! Unforgettable moment!
This is a reason i don't mind having the guide holding the fish on the picture, he's part of the team, part of the memories on that special day. European anglers want to hold their fish at all cost for some reason...And more than often pride and big ego comes before fish welfare... Fish are dropped on the ground, in the bottom of the boat, left out in the air way too long, passed to friends (yes, i have seen it many times).
So the fact that the guide hold your fish is primarily for the fish welfare and to get a perfect photo. Sure you can have a pic with your fish, but this has to be done outside the boat, in shallow water (never over dry land!) away from a bear...or a wolf..and i see all this messing around as waste a lot of precious fishing time, i rather a quick pic with the guide, a fast release and back to casting asap! It's a short week up there 5 1/2 days fishing, every minutes count.
That short week will beat you up, and those pikes will pound you to the ground, especially those 35's ( 90cm) my god they can go! They will rip line of your fingers like you never seen it before! Powerful runs, but what makes these runs special is how long they can go before you can put a stop to it.
And your tackle will be tested! 4 out of 6 guys had broken something, rods, lines, rings, hooks opened.This is why the leaders you can use have to be approved by the guides, no swivels or clips ( i had a fastach #3 crushed and one opened up and this has never happened to me here in Ireland).
Leaders are so simple, 5ft of nylon coated 65lbs 7x1 stainless steel, straight from your fly line to your hook. Flies are tied directly to the wire ( I do this often here, resulting in less problems and headaches).
This time was different that 5 years ago, colder, water a lot lower. Fast changeable weather, and a large pink salmon run.You could see pinks everywhere, swimming like zombies in the last leg of their lives. Even the air stank of rotten fish in some places. So the pikes were very well fed, resulting is so many frustrating follows of monster fish. I was getting an average of at least 20 follows a days of fish over 45s (110cm+). On the plus side the ones that we got were soooo heavy!!! Big bulging bellies full of pinkies!
As for numbers, we had so many fish, around 30 fish a day for the worse days for me and Dom and 60+ fish each on the best ones! Include a good dozen over 40, two three over 45 and you have the makings for a fantastic week! But it's average for up there, with such a massive body of water that's frozen for 7/8 months and only six rods a week, the fish are wild, untamed and in massive numbers.
This is why I'm already planning my next group to go up there... Alaska the last frontier, has a weird but beautiful grip on us.
A usual, i try to film a bit as well, it's not easy combining fishing and filming, but i do enjoy both, hope you do too!
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