By Pete Rogers
In 1980, I purchased my first outdoor magazine and began my venture into the outdoors. Growing up the son of a golfer, I adapted to the outdoors on my own.
During one of these vicarious adventures, I read of anglers flying into remote lakes in Canada and fishing pristine waters for fish I had never heard of in my southern waters.
I vowed one day to find a way to fly into these remote lakes to spend the better part of a week fishing and catching giant northern pike I had read about for so long.
A few years ago, the dream came true when I made my first trip to Atikokan, Ontario and Kashabowie Outposts, a fly-in fishing outfitter.
Kashabowie owns and operates ten cabins on remote lakes in Ontario. Fishing for walleye, smallmouth bass, lake trout and northern pike are all available.
This year I am heading back. This time with my two sons who are in a transition stage of life. The eldest is getting married in September, and the youngest is heading off to college in August. The time is now to get this trip together and get some fishing done in the remote wilderness of Ontario.
Flying for pike is a double metaphor. The remote lake cabins operated by Kashabowie Outposts are only reachable by float plane, making the adventure all the more intense.
Flying into these remote lakes and being left alone is at first daunting, then exhilarating. For the adventurous, being in the true wilderness invigorates the soul.
As the plane lands on the lake, you are dropped off at a fully furnished modest cabin. All of the necessities are there – hot showers, propane stoves and refrigerators, beds, etc.
But it is the fishing that brings people to these lakes. Trophy walleye and northern pike fill these lakes. Some lakes teem with lake trout and smallmouth bass. Catches in excess of 100 fish a day are not uncommon.
Personally, I fish for walleye first so I have something to eat, and then I focus the rest of the day chasing the giant pike that fill these waters.
Walleye anglers often achieve their personal best on these lakes, with fish over 30” being caught fairly regularly. During my first trip, I caught my first walleye and my first over 30” on the same trip. (Actually, I caught three over 30”.)
Known for their aggressive strikes, Pike are the embodiment of top water action fish. Traditional anglers like casting a seven-inch Live Target Lures Bait Ball Jerk Bait near the weeds where these predators hide. Letting the bait sit motionless for several anxious seconds, a small twitch of the bait often brings an explosion as a three-foot pike inhales it.
Plastic Live Target Frogs, jerk baits, and even swim baits all work well for pike. Known for their reaction strikes, big spoons also work well for pike. Simple cast and retrieve methods work excellently. NOTE: Pike have big teeth, so always use a wire leader when fishing for these toothy creatures.
If you are looking for a little more challenge, put down the casting gear and pick up a nine-foot #8 fly rod with shooting tip line and a wire leader. Tie on the largest fly you can cast 30-40 feet.
Bright colors and long tails dominate the fly patterns. These should be used on 1/0 or larger hooks. If you don’t have big pike flies, any big deer hair bass bug also works well for pike.
Pike love the shallows in the summer months. Preferring to ambush prey, they hide in the grass and shallow areas of lakes. Getting them to bite is not as hard as landing them. These big fish put up a fight.
There really is no need for bigger than a #8 flyrod. As with most fishing, there are giants out there, but most of the fish you will catch will be under 36 inches.
A large arbor reel with fifty yards of backing is sufficient so long as there is a good drag in place. Use the drag to tire the fish out and keep it from the weeds. A hooked pike will dart towards the thick weeds, making it difficult to bring it out.
Sunrise on the lakes in Northern Ontario comes early at 5:00 a.m. The day begins with mist covering the lake from the cool night. The calm air is interrupted with the swish, swish of my fly rod loading a large yellow fly. As it splashes on the surface, the line snakes its way back to my waiting hands.
Flying for pike is an adventure that burns into your memory like the birth of your first child or your wedding day. It is something that you will relive over and over in your mind. And if you can, it is something you will do as often as possible.
To take this trip, contact Kashabowie Outposts in Atikokan, Ontario at: [email protected] or call 807-929-2140