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My first salty pike
I love pike fishing with a fly rod, and my first encounter with pike in the salt made a lasting impression.
The fish are potentially large and always aggressive. They aren't too easily spooked. They are pretty undiscerning when it comes to flies, and they are even good fighters.
I have never understood why some anglers don't like to catch pike.
OK, they have sharp teeth and an intimidating mouthful of them. The fish and the teeth can grow scary big too. And for people who fish for the pan or the freezer they might not be as attractive as a trout or a salmon - not to mention the lowly cod - which are all better fish to eat.
But still... pike are just exiting and beautiful fish to catch.
This particular fish was one of the first ones I caught in saltwater.
Yes, pike do go into the ocean if it's not too salty, and the brackish water of the Baltic is a fine place for a pike to be. In southern Denmark and Sweden the pike will enter the ocean through the streams and feast on what's available there - mainly herring, but also other fresh water species that enter the ocean occasionally like whitefish and perch. This leads to well fed pike in top condition, and they are even beautiful too, loosing the darker, brownish olive hue found on many lake pike and taking on a more colorful and contrasty sheen.
I was on a trip with a few friends who went to the south Swedish archipelago each autumn during October and November to hunt for large, sea roaming pike. This was all new to me. Most of my pike fishing had been done from boat or float tube and in lakes. Suddenly I was wading in the ocean, just as I would when fishing for sea trout, but just armed with a 9 weight rod and flies the size of small airplanes in stead of my usual 6 weight.
It was a lot of fun.
I remember the weather as fairly mild. Rough in an autumnly way, but absolutely tolerable. Cloudy with a breeze. Good waves but clear water. Close to perfect conditions for our pursuit of the critter with the many teeth.
I was wading flat sand bottom between small rocks and weed patches and could cast whatever way I wanted. So I cast towards the shore and in between the rocks protruding over the surface here and there. It didn't make the big difference as far as I could see, the water being basically the same depth all over the place - a meter or 3-4 feet or so - and the bottom and the rocks being the same wherever I looked.
A decent pike took my fly, a blue flashy thingy of no special character.
I remember it jumping and running. It was in the 3-4 kilo range or about 6-8 lbs. And not nearly as large as they come, but large enough to give up a good fight.
I landed it a little clumsily by grabbing it under the belly, and my friend Kim approached with a camera and shot a picture or two. As I was about to unhook the fish and release it, he handed me a neat hook release thingamajig, which I was to slide down the line over the hook and simply press out the fly. I liked the concept of having my soft office fingers well out of harms way. As the tool grabbed the fly, the pike wiggled violently and went one way, the fly another and the untethered tool described a nice arc, splashed into the water between the rocks and disappeared in the weed, never to bee seen again.