Northern Pike are at the top of the freshwater fish food chain and Big Sand Lake’s 60,000 acres of water is home to some of the biggest, meanest pike a fisherman will encounter anywhere. At Big Sand Lake Lodge, we host lots of pike fishermen, guys who dedicate their entire Northern Manitoba fishing experience to just this one species. Of course, even fishermen after Walleye, Lake Trout or Arctic Grayling will often encounter a monster pike as pike are voracious feeders and when hungry will hit on anything that catches their fancy, even if it’s a fish you have hooked and are trying to land. I have often caught pike while attempting to land a walleye. The irony is that the pike are usually not hooked but refuse to let their prey go until pried from it. Of course, at Big Sand where all is catch and release except what you eat, both fish are released back into the lake unless the walleye is so injured that he qualifies for shore lunch.
Northern Pike are known by the scientific name Esox Lucius, translated that means “pitiless water-wolf.” Pike typically hang in bays, in or near weed beds, motionless except for an almost imperceptible back and forth movement of their tail. Like a cobra poised to strike, their energy is held in check until a suitable fish or fisherman’s lure catches their attention. Transforming themselves from silent submarine to speeding torpedo, they motor in a flash to their prey, catching it sideways in their jaws and then turning it to swallow head first.
Small pike feed on insect life, fish eggs and plant life until they reach maturity at around three years. At that point they turn strictly cannibalistic, even consuming smaller pike and other fish up to half their own size. They are now the closest thing to a shark in fresh water.
A pike which measures a minimum of 41 inches is considered a trophy-sized pike and qualifies the catching angler to the Master Angler designation. If you fish Big Sand, be prepared to be a Master Angler several times over, often in the same day. Pike in the 40-inch category are an every day occurrence and every season sees its share of plus 50 inchers.
Pike can be caught casting with conventional spoons and crank baits, with medium and light spinning tackle using a variety of jigs and small spinners and with a fly rod. If you’ve never had the experience of catching a monster Northern Pike on ultra-kite tackle or a fly rod, you have a heart-beating thrill ahead of you.
Come visit us at Big Sand Lake Lodge and find out what real Northern Pike fishing is all about. It’s an experience not to be missed.
by Gary Cole