At the very beginning of summer, literally, I did a fly-in trip to Dead Lake in northern Saskatchewan. The float plane dropped us off at the dock about 10 PM on the evening of June 20th. I had never been to this lake before so when in doubt I brought whatever gear I thought i carry. The other 4 member of the fishing party had been here before so i knew from their stories that there were definitely fish to be caught. The evening was a true northern Saskatchewan experience. We started a campfire and decided to “sip” some rum and whiskey until it got dark. Between refills, I walked down to the dock and tossed an old time favorite spoon into the water, the Len Thompson 5 of Diamonds. 6 pike later and I knew I had my morning plan. I eased off the rum mixture knowing I was going to have an early start. Also, knowing how far north we were, staying up until it got dark doesn’t really happen, as you can see from the midnight picture below.
So about 2 AM I went for a nap while others promised to take up the slack on the rum for me. It was a quick but necessary few hours of sleep. When the sun was up a bright, and the lake was like glass that next morning, it was time to pull out the fly rod and test some of the patterns I had tied the past spring, tied in anticipation of morning just like this.
So out came the 8 weight fly rod and the box of streamers. I pushed out one of the 6 aluminum fishing boats and paddled out about 100 feet from shore. The previous evening I had hooked 3 or 4 pike in the same spot from the dock and now I was in position to cast back to that spot, from the other side of it. The Clouser Minnow was the first fly of choice. i had tied some variations including some with longer streamers with pike in mind. It was about cast #5 or #6 when I saw a wake headed towards my fly followed by an aggressive splash. Pike on the fly! This became my morning routine for the rest of the trip.
Throughout the mornings I continued to switch out flies, alternating between Clouser Minnows, Bucktails (aka Mickey Finns), and Wooley Buggers. While all three of these fly patterns did catch pike, the Clouser Minnow was the clear winner. In fact the red and white Clouser Minnow, shown below, was by far the best fly of the trip. The bucktails were the #2 fly and the both the pure black Wooley Bugger and read headed Wooley Bugger intended to look like an egg sucking leach caught a few fish.
I often like to experiment when fishing, after catching a few fish on one fly, I will change to another to see if it will produce fish as well as the other. But, this trip, I had time switching away from the red and white Clouser Minnow. When you are catching a pike on a fly rod with great regularity, why swap your fly? What I did experiment somewhat with was the color of the fly. Other combinations included a blue and white, a green and white, and the second best colour combination green, red and white.
The great fun of fishing for pike in shallow water with a fly is that often you can see the streak of the fish as it accelerates towards and attacks your fly. These aggressive fish always give you a head-shaking fight when hooked as they try to dislodge the fly.
What I did not get the thrill of catching on a fly rod was a net filling pike like the one below. This one, and many other 36″ and larger pike were caught with spinning gear on jig heads, spoons and walley divers. i did pull in a 30+ inch pike on a fly rod, on a solo morning float just out in front of the cabins but nothing to compare to the 15 pounders that were also caught on the trip.
I have some more pike on the fly action planned for late August on a different lake. The Clouser Minnow is definitely going to be the featured fly.