I think this is going to be the year. This is the year I shake loose my cold water shackles, and lose my nearly singular salmonidic vision of bug chucking. Last summer I purchased a pontoon boat and trolling motor, and was much more mobile than I have been in past seasons. I think this new found mobility will be the key. Come spring I'll be able to get into those backwater bays and coves just as the ice disappears. I'm sure the fish will be there. Twenty, thirty, and - if I'm lucky - forty inch snaggle-toothed monsters will be stacked like cord wood, and waiting to get their collective groove on.
The thought of the spring spawning ritual excites me nearly as much as it does the pike. It's that one time of year when the least difficult aspect of pike fishing is finding the fish. As the year progresses, Esox Lucius become increasingly solitary and difficult to locate. I suppose this - along with the animal's potential to grow to prodigious dimensions - is the real allure of the species. Pike are special because like any apex predator, pike are relatively rare. Unless you're there shortly after ice out, armed with an eight or nine weight rod and some seriously stout wire, you might as well stay home and launder doilies.
At least that's how I remember my previous pike fishing exploits.
Years upon years have passed since I last devoted time strictly to the pursuit of early season pike. For the life of me, I don't know why I ever stopped the chase. I suppose meeting my wife might have had something to do with it. More likely, brown trout and an increasingly prolific hendrickson hatch were my motivations. Sure, if I'm out chasing carp or bass then I'm happy to hook up with a toothier critter, but hooking water wolves hasn't been my intent in a long time. It's a problem I hope to rectify.
This winter, in addition to the usual army of trout, steelhead, bass, and carp flies, I'm wrapping some bigger stuff intended solely for bigger fish. Much of my inspiration comes from the fellas at A Matter of Life, Death, and Fluffchucking, Pike Fly-Fishing Articles, Pike Adventures with Ken Capsey, and Drew Price Fly Fishing. The boys who maintain these blogs seem to have figured out the challenge of flinging flies for pike, and consistently catching fish throughout the season.
I guess that means that over the next few weeks my vise will see quite a lot of craft fur, Flashabou, and deer hair. The scrap ends of zonker strips - destined for the dubbing blender - will litter the floor. Krystal Flash and Angel Hair will cling to my flannel shirts; epoxy and super glue will flow. Of course, I'll have to dig out those 6/0 Daiichis that are buried at the back of the hook bin, and I'm almost certain I have some rattles somewhere. I think I saw them stuffed in alongside my collection of dyed polar bear; although, I can't imagine why I would have tossed them in that drawer.
This is going to be the year. With any luck I'll get a few hero shots. Hero shots in which I'm not the hero - not becasue I didn't catch the fish, but because the critter's grin is bigger and nastier than my own.