Our Man In Canada
February 14th, 2005

Fly Fishing Northern Canada
Part 2, The Stalker
By Mike Skoczen

It was late afternoon as I stood on the bow of the boat looking for a fishy spot as Mark slowly paddled us down the shoreline. Mark and I had spent the last few hours taking turns fishing and paddling and my arms were getting sore from both. Our last trip through this particular stretch of shoreline was pleasantly successful and we were hoping to continue that success after deciding to switch tactics a bit. It was time to go top water.

Before I had a chance to cast, Mark put the paddle down, grabbed his bait caster and launched a buzzbait at the shore. It landed with loud splash and Mark began to retrieve it at high speed. The lure raced across the surface of the water leaving a wake behind as if it was propelled by a tiny motor. In no time at all, the water around the lure exploded in a flurry of teeth and gills. "Fish On!" I got down from my perch and helped Mark to land and release a nice Northern Pike. Mark got back to paddling and after a few minutes of accusing Mark of stealing my fish (the fact that I would not have been able to make a cast at it made no difference to me) I got back up on the bow and began my search again.

We were getting close to a slot that shot deep back into the weed bed that looked like the perfect place for my next cast. The slot was a few feet wide with submerged weeds visible just beneath the surface of the water and a fair amount of reeds shooting up through the surface. I slowly began to feed line into the air as I false cast over open water. One more false cast, a double haul and my line shot out over the water in the general vicinity of where I wanted it to go. It landed off target (it was the wind) but I judged it to still be in play.

The deer hair mouse landed with a small plop and I noticed a large swirl in the water about 10 feet away. Adrenaline rushed to my brain as I began to slowly swim the mouse back towards the boat. A wake appeared behind the mouse, inching closer as I continued my retrieve. I was being followed! I had retrieved about half of the cast when the wake approached and then disappeared right behind the fly. Worried that my stalker had lost interest, I sped up my retrieve from a leisurely swim to a panic stricken thrashing. Right on cue the water exploded around the mouse, I saw the flash of the teeth, felt the weight on the line and set the hook. "Fish On!"

The fish was not large but it was all that my 7 weight rod and I could do to keep it out of the weeds; we had already lost more than a few fish that way. After a short struggle we were able to get the fish into the boat, remove the hook, snap a photo or two and release it back into the lake. The stalker was a Northern Pike around 27" long and while not a trophy fish, it was one of the biggest Pike that I had ever caught and for that I was very happy. I made one more cast "to get my line back on the reel" and brought it back in uneventfully this time.

It was time to turn over the bow of the ship to Mark so he could fly fish again while I paddled him around. We fished this way for a few more hours and repeated this scenario more than a dozen times. Whether the rod was in my hand or in Mark's I still felt the same rush of excitement with every take. I don't think I'll ever grow tired of taking fish on top water flies.

To be continued... ~ ms

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