By HUNTER REDFIELD – Student Contributor
As 3:00 came, I hear the steady thump of a Beaver prop pounding the air. As the plane makes it down the runway and glides onto the lake, my boss looks at me and says, “You ready to go pike fishing?”
Startled, and at the same time curious, I ask what he means, and then it hits me that one of the clients in the plane wanted nothing more with his week than to catch a pike.
Given no more than half an hour to get ready and with no gear for pike, I grabbed the heaviest line and the biggest trout streamers I could find along with rods and a reel. I crawled into the bright yellow beaver and put on the headset. I talked to our pilot Mark during the flight about the layout of the lake that I had never previously seen, and as we circle it, I was able to get a view from the air of weed lines and the location of the boat moored up in the middle of the lake.
Soon after, we coast onto the lake, pull up to the boat, and unload the gear before I push the plane off and listen to the rumble of a 450 horse engine fire up in the airplane and make a run down the lake and into the air.
We untie the boat and drift backwards, trying to find a spot where we could step onto to make it through the thick and tall grass that surrounded our boat. After some problems dropping the motor, we finally get it going and I nail the throttle, getting it going as fast as possible as soon as I could so we didn’t suck grass and get stranded.
We make it to the cove I could see from the air, and after a drift, we decide to fish the slough that leads to the Copper River. I fire up the motor and drive as far as I could until the water got too shallow and I began dragging the jet boat through the knee deep mud until we reached the slough. I was able to stand on the seat and paddle through it until we decided we should fish the cove again.
So, I fired the motor up again and made a run until I was once again dragging the boat, and finally I crawl in and set the motor as high as I could so hopefully no grass will be sucked, but despite the effort I stop the boat multiple times to clean out the jet foot. Finally, we made it to the cove.
I begin paddling, battling the wind pushing us back and forth, keeping us just far enough from a submerged weed line that we wouldn’t spook any fish but were within a reasonable casting distance.
Positioned perfectly, I watched cast after cast go to the weeds and then be yanked out as he stripped the fly back to us. The bright pink and chartreuse fly suddenly disappears in the mouth of a pike, and then I see the fly come out of its mouth without any sign of the hook making contact. The fish crushed it again and the same process ensued.
Cast after cast, the fish would chase down the fly and eat it until finally the hook slightly stuck and it no longer wanted to look at the fly.
With the drift coming to a close, I fire up the motor yet again and made a run to the top of our drift and began again, hoping I could put us in a good position to drift where the fish seemed to be holding with only 20 minutes before our 6 O’clock pickup.
Before I know what’s going on, Scott’s line goes tight and I ask if it is a fish or a snag and watch as the line shoots under the boat. I begin telling him to swing his rod tip around the front of the boat as the fish makes its way underneath, and as soon as he gets it close to the surface it dives again, going underneath the boat, only to soon be pulled back up and slid into the net.
The energy in the boat seems to be unreal, and I begin giving high fives and fist bumping the man who wanted nothing more than a pike before he made his trip home. With me almost seeming to be more excited than he was, I grab his camera and begin taking pictures of the fish before I lay it on the rod, trying to figure out how long the fish might have been.
I let the fish go and watch it swim back to the depths, and we start another drift only ending it because of the time we had left to get the boat back to the buoy it calls home.
Thirsty after the workout I had just endured, I mention a celebratory glass of water and we both stand talking about how lucky we are to be in such an amazing place as we sip water, and again the thump of a Beaver engine draws near and lands while we prepare our gear and then crawl back into the plane, taking off and ending the quest for a pike.