Tip: tackle your tackle before going after pike

CRAWFORD – Think you want to tackle fly fishing for northern pike?

Check your tackle first.

Most fly anglers are accustomed to using 4- to 6-weight rods and diminutive size 16–18 flies.

“I recommend an 8-weight rod for a couple of reasons,” said Phil Trimm, shop manager at Western Anglers Fly Shop in Grand Junction (244-8658).

He listed the size and weight of the flies (4–6 inches long, tied on chemically sharpened saltwater hooks); the long-distance casts called for when fishing shallow water from shore; and the simple, brute strength of a northern pike.

“These are really strong fish,” Trimm said. “You need to meet them at their level.”

As they said in the movie “Jaws,” “We’re going to need a bigger boat.”

Trimm also said a knottable wire leader or one made of 30-pound monofilament is required.

“You still end up changing flies after every fish,” he said. “Wire is nice but it takes a lot of time and it’s still one fish, one fly.”

Pike are spring spawners and still are in the shallows. That will change with warming water temperatures.

Some favorite, close-to-home pike waters include Crawford, Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap reservoirs.

Northern pike also are found in Elkhead Reservoir (near Craig) and Taylor Park Reservoir (north of Gunnison and still covered with snow).

There are rumors (rumors, mind you) of pike being caught in Highline and Mack Mesa lakes. A recent notice from Highline Lake State Park asks anyone catching a pike from either of those lakes to notify the park and take the fish home for dinner.

Rivers known to hold pike are, for now, limited to the Yampa River west of Steamboat Springs, although there are unsubstantiated rumors of pike appearing in the Gunnison River upstream of Blue Mesa Reservoir.

“Nothing yet,” said Peter Gibbons of Dragonfly Anglers in Crested Butte. “Check back later in the spring.”

The Colorado record for kept fish is 30 pounds, 11-ounces caught in 2006 from Stagecoach Reservoir.


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