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The Big Ones Come out at Night

 

My favorite hole on the North Saskatchewan River never failed to produce and usually I could count on catching a few suckers and walleye for an afternoon’s effort. Over time I found myself staying later and later until I would keep right on fishing into the night, under the stars. There was some ambiant light from the glow of the city, but for all intents and purposes, it was night. Under that faint light I could just barely make out my bobber, but did manage to see a lot of bites. Through the night I caught a bunch more fish, most were walleye, but there was the odd pike and goldeye mixed in for flavor.

Then one night I did something out of character. I rigged a Rapala Husky Jerk on a steel leader. The reason was simple. I wanted to catch the pike I had just seen, but things didn’t quite work out as planned. In that late September evening one large walleye after another took turns pounding my husky jerk. I never did catch that pike, but over the course of an evening I’m sure I hit four walleye over five pounds and one that went nine. Needless to say I liked it.

So, with the success I had catching large fish by light of the moon, I took the show on the road and headed to a little lake called Figure Eight. The one and only reason I went there was to catch a big brown and I planned on fishing for them in whichever way I could. Throughout the day they were noticeably absent, but as the sun teed off on the treetops and shadows lengthened, I switched over to plugs and started hammering the shores. As twilight faded into dark, heavy swirls and sloshes materialized into one hawg-sized brown after another.

Then when making one fateful cast, my lure was crushed. I strained on the hookset and the fish did not move. It was big. “Oh my god!” escaped my lips and I put as much pressure as I dare on the big trout. It moved, but did not shake, not even a little. This was the tip off that I either had a beaver by the tail or a real big trout. I worked the fish and as the minutes wore on my imagination played all kinds of games with me, wondering what beast was on the end of my line.

I worked it close and saw the dorsal break the surface and way back from there, the tail poked out. This was a beast of a brown. I curled my tongue and said every prayer known to man and woman. The little hooks of my plug somehow held in this fish’s oversized jaw and fifteen minutes after it all started I wrapped my hand around a massively thick brown that measured somewhere between 28 and 30 inches. My good friend Arnold took one photo of this beast and I have the print at home. It remains my biggest brown to date.

That weekend was a weekend to remember. We caught lots of big browns, and all the action happened as the sun went low, then disappeared. In the dark these fish were hunters and delivering a big plug to them was exactly what they were looking for.

This exact same scenario will be playing itself out this fall at most every pike lake near and far. As the water cools, the huge pike that were noticably absent all summer will be in shallows feeding on their favorite prey, lake whitefish. Now these fish will be caught during the dayand I would suggest any topwater crankbait (Suicks and Zara Spooks are my favorites) and hang around ‘til the sun goes down. That’s when the evening hunt begins. The biggest of the big pike push in under cover of darkness looking for a big meal.

Arnold and I have become experts on delivering exactly what they want. I like the Suicks and Magnum Rapalas. Arnold on the other hand has some handicraft in his blood. He makes lures and has a monster that looks like a full sized whitefish. We troll that monster of a lure around in the early dark hours over the shallows and listen.

Almost always we’ll hear the strike first. It will literally sound like a run away washing machine or somebody doing a cannonball into the lake. Then the rod snaps down hard. If we can survive the strike, which runs at about 50 percent, we usually land the fish.

My dad, Gary, came to town and said, “Fred, take me out. I want to catch one of them 40 inch plus pike you talk about.” I told him that there are no guarantees. We went out, stayed into the night using the big stuff. He crunched a 41 and then a 43 incher. What can I say?


Previous Fishing Articles

(1) Fly Selection for Beginners

(2) Fly Fisher's Christmas

(3) New Waters

(4) Big Bad Burbot

(5) Looking Back

(6) Out of Africa

(7) Finding Success on Crowded Trout Streams

(8) Mountain Peaks, Fast Streams, Fall Colours And Rocky Mountain Whitefish

(9) The Browns of Autumn

(10) Fly-Fishing Pike Through The Seasons

(11) Walleye Town

(12) River Fun - One Bite At A Time

(13) Fly Fishing Larger Rivers

(14) Going With The Flow

(15) Becoming A Better Fly Fisherman

(16) Swinging The Fences

(17) A View From The Aerie

(18) Dixieland Delight

(19) Atlantic Salmon - The Fish of 1000 Casts

(20) Do It Yourself Pink Salmon

(21) Montana's Cool Missouri

(22) Pretty Is As Pretty Does

(23) Toothy Critters

(24) Hard Water Lakers at Cold Lake

(25) Top Ten Flies

(26) Northern Exposure

(27) Home Water Lessons

(28) Chicken Of The Sea

(29) Sealing the Deal – How to Ensure You Land More Fish

(30) Deep In The Heart Of Texas

(31) Keep It Up!

(32) River Fishing for Fall Walleye

(33) After the Flood - A look at Southern Alberta rivers and streams one year after the flood

(34) Reindeer Lake - A Diversity of Opportunity

(35) Hawg Holes

(36) Saltwater Salmon

(37) Early Season Dry Fly Fishing

(38) Down a Lazy River –
A Fly-rodding Adventure on the Lower North Saskatchewan

(39) The Fly Fishing Season Ahead

(40) IN SEARCH OF SPECKLED FOOTBALLS

(41) FISHING CANADA'S PRAIRIE CITIES

(42) Bright Fish from the Land of Silver

(43) Canada's "Other" Salmon

(44) Fall Walleye

(45) Wet Flies

(46) Versatility the Key to Success

(47) Grayling of the Boreal

(48) Teaching Kids To Fly Fish

(49) Size Matters

(50) Fly Fishing Small Streams

(51) Chasing Winter Whites One Lake At A Time

(52) Manitoba's Fishing Jewel

(53) The Twelve Gifts Of Christmas

(54) The Point Of It All

(55) Fishing With Friends-Big Weather Seizing The Day

(56) Fall Fly Fishing

(57) Personal Pontoon Boats 101

(58) Big River, Big Fish

(59) Bottom Bonanza

(60) Fishing Small Flies

(61) So Many Choices, So Little Time

(62) Four Seasons of the Bow

(63) Favourite Lakes - Some Like it Hot

(64) GEARING UP FOR SMALL STREAM TROUT

(65) Trout Hunting - New Zealand-style

(66) Don’t Leave Home Without Them –
10 Lures That Should Be In Everyone’s Tackle Box

(67) Edge Walleye

(68) FLY FISHING STRATEGIES FOR HIGH WATER

(69) Smallmouth Bass – An Oft Overlooked Challenge

(70) Four Corners – Four Waters

(71) Chasing Pothole Trout

(72) Springtime Stoneflies

(73) The Torrents of Spring

(74) Drift Boat Fly Fishing

(75) Bust Them With Bait

(76) Cure the Winter Blues with a Good Book

(77) Hot Strategies for the Cold Months

(78) Cutthroat: The Angler's Trout

(79) Terrestrials

(80) Fly In For Fishing Fun

(81) Rocky Mountain High

(82) Reading the clues

(83) Where the Trout Are
The art of locating feeding trout
in rivers and streams.

(84) K.I.S.S. and Tell Fly-fishin

(85) Fly Fishing 101

(86) To Catch a Big Halibut, or Ling Cod

(87) The Bountiful Bones of Ascension Bay

(88) Grayling in the Eye of the Beholder

(89) Fly Fishing for South Fork Clearwater Steelhead

(90) Manitoba's Red River - North America's Catfish Capital

(91) Eliminating the Spook Factor

(92) Trust Your Electronics

(93) The Most Important Hatch of the Year

(94) Early Season Nymph Fishing for Trout

(95) Finding Success for Ice Trout

(96) Walleye can be Humbling

(97) The Secret to Landing the Big One Finally Revealed

(98) Winter Flyfishing

(99) North Saskatchewan River - An Underutilized Gem

(100) Hot Fall Pike Action

(101) Tips and Tricks to Save the Summer Slow Down

(102) Reading Trout Stream Waters

(103) Frequently Asked Questions

(104) Streamer Fishing for Larger Trout

(105) The Lure of Big Walleye at Last Ice

(106) Deep Water Perch

(107) Post Spawn Brookies

(108) A Fisher's Life

(109) The River's Last Stand

(110) The Big Ones Come out at Night

(111) Coho on the Coast

(112) Chasing and Catching Halibut

(113) Summer in the Mountains

(114) Peak Walleye Season

(115) Slow and Steady Wins the Race

(116) Last Ice Rainbows

(117) The Burbot Event

(118) Tackle Matching

(119) Ice Fishing Strategy #2 - Going Light

(120) Ice Fishing Strategy #1 - Location

(121) The Lure of Brook Trout

(122) The Shallow Water Hunt is On

(123) Hot Backswimmer Action Happening Right Now

(124) Fishing Among Giants-Pursuing Lake Sturgeon on the Prairies

(125) Adventure at Davin Lake Lodge, Northern Saskatchewan

(126) The Vesatile Plug

(127) Bead Head Flies, Plugs and Shot and other Spring Favorites for Pothole Trout

(128) Planning your Upcoming Angling Adventures

(129) Good Fishing at Last Ice

(130) Maximize the Odds - Use Multiple Presentations

(131) Daily Fish Migrations

(132) Fish Migrations - Following the Spawn

(133) Lake Whitefish - An Ice Fishing All Star

(134) Pick Your Favorite Brook Trout Lake...and Go Fishing

(135) A Look Ahead to Great Trout Fishing

(136) Wrestling White Sturgeon on the Fraser

(137) The Fun in Ultra Light

(138) Flyfishing and Leadcore Lines

(139) Embrace the Spirit of Adventure

(140) Never Stop Learning

(141) Ice Fishing is Getting Hot

(142) Jigging through the Ice

(143) An Ice Fishing Unsung Hero – The Setline

(144) Rainbows on Ice

(145) The Season of Ice Begins

(146) Red Hot Fall Pike Action

(147) Hitting it Right with Water Boatman

(148) Facts On Cats

(149) West Coast Adventure

(150) June Walleye Frenzy

(151) Aerated Lakes are Big Trout Factories

(152) "First Fish of the Year - Pothole Rainbows and Browns"

(153) "Northern Exposure"

(154) Sometimes There is More to Fishing Than Catching Fish

(155) Early Season Pike On The Fly

(156) Man Overboard