2.27.2012

An Unintended Walk

With winter coming to an end - not that I'm sure if it ever really started - I have the dirty deed on my mind. That's right, I'm talking about pike spawning! So I did what anyone would do. I grabbed my fly rod, some freshly tied pike flies, and headed out on a mission to see if the run had begun.

First, I decided to check some areas that are proven spawning grounds. I quickly realized that the river was much too low for it to have spilled over into the grassy grounds where I vividly remember wading for miles in search of territorial toothy critters. As I continued through a dry grassland, I headed towards a few areas that I know hold water throughout the year and have a pretty regular connection to the main river. Upon my arrival, I was let down by the ice covered backwaters. With this discovery, I quickly concluded the spawn has not yet begun.

With my mission seemingly concluded after only an hour of hiking, I decided to check out some wilderness that I have been wanting to explore for quite some time. I had a mental snapshot of the Google Earth satellite imagery in my head, fly rod, flies, and a small snack so I headed off in a new direction.

The hike started through a narrow game trail that was riddled with massive thorny vines and overhanging branches. After about twenty minutes of hacking my way through that mess, the trail finally opened up to a swampy field that was adorned by cattails as far as I could see. I knew this was going to be tough hike, but I kept on towards a wall of trees that I could see a mile or so ahead.

Upon my arrival, I found a picture perfect feeder creek that fed directly to a permanently linked backwater area of the river. The water was crystal clear and looked like it is constantly connected. If you look at the picture to the right, you will notice that the creek dog legs to the right. Just upstream a few hundred yards, the creek turns into a snake like ditch that is surrounded by grassy banks that is everything I look for when I look for spawning pike. With this discovery, I felt like I accomplished a great amount. The disappointment of no fish seemed to instantly disappear. No longer did I even feel the need to fish.  At this point, my mission turned into a walk through the woods.

I continued towards the main river that I could see a quarter mile down the edge of the forest taking note of the incredible presence of river trash. I was amazed that so much garbage could be found in an area that seemed so remote. The banks of the river seem to be incredibly effective at trapping anything that floats in a river during times of flooding. It's almost as if mother nature does it on purpose for the sole purpose of cleaning up after its biggest enemy.

As I continued through the forest, I found the remnants of an old tree house or hunting stand. Again, I noted the seeming remoteness of this place. I couldn't help but wonder about this structure. Who built it? Why? When? It was clear that it hadn't been used in many years. Even the rotted wood looked as if it was older than what one would imagine. I took a few minutes to snap a few photos and continued on my way.


Soon, I was at the edge of the main river and decided to follow that back to my truck. I had about a mile to go and I wasn't really in any hurry to do it. I slowly made my way being sure to not step in any holes. I worked my way over rotted and unsure logs that had made their home on the floor next to the river's edge. Many of these logs had been there for so long that they were completely hidden by globs of overgrown and matted grass. After twenty minutes or so, I noticed an area that was clearly a bedding ground for deer. I stopped to see if I could get any good fur for some flies and was treated to a pretty good selection. As I was collecting a few clumps, I couldn't help but notice a faint smell of decomposition. As I looked around, I quickly discovered the rotten and well cleaned skeleton of a buck that no longer ran through these woods. I hoped to find the antlers, but after ten minutes of searching, I gave up and continued on my way.

A short while later, I was back at my truck and headed towards the house. As I pulled away, Supertramp's distinct sound caught my attention on the radio and I did just what the song suggested I do....take the long way home.




17 comments:

  1. The toothy critters will be there soon!!!! That sounded like a nice hike though!!!

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    1. Yes they will! Now I just have to decide if I want to chase them next weekend of some steelies. Or maybe some gar if you get that boat finished??

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  2. I bet they are done already. When I hit Northern WI every ice out for walleye the pike we got with ice still on the lakes were spawned out or ready to pop.

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    Replies
    1. I'm guessing they aren't. From the few open water ones I have pulled out over the last few weeks there are no battle wounds to be seen.

      I hope I'm right - quit killing my dreams! LOL

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  3. A very nice read, I hope your hike and discovery of that clear creek yield you some fish as the year progresses. Too often people just go to forums and want spoonfed locations - you did the work (far more rewarding) and I hope it pays off. I enjoy your adventurous spirit.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Adam! I really hope it does as well!! I just can't imagine it NOT producing for me.

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  4. Nothing like putting in the work for future rewards!

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    1. I agree! It's almost safe to say that's a better feeling than pulling a fish out of a hole that some other fisherman missed. I think I need some of your killer StankX flukez and the Sims A-Rig for my next trip!

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  5. those backwater spots are some good finds, could be a sleeper spot here in the next few weeks. recon is just as important as catching. nice post BA

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  6. Ah Supertramp. Breakfast in America is such an underrated CD. Great find on the feeder creek. Hopefully I can get out and get a Pike on the fly before you do. Everyone is moving ahead of me so quickly on the species chart with the fly rod.

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    1. It really is a very underrated album. Although I must admit - Super tramp seems to be one of those "love 'em or hate'em" bands.

      I can't say that I am moving up the species list that quick...just targeting the species I like to fish for.

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  7. Yea, I hope I am wrong, but past history tells me otherwise.

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  8. http://fishingminnesota.com/fishinfo72.html

    Get some water temps on those backwater areas. That should be your best indication.

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    Replies
    1. I have seen that article before and a lot of it has essentially been verified by Nate T. Most of the backwater areas are still iced over and only starting to thaw. The biggest problem now isn't really the water temps - it's the fact that the river is so low. Once the level comes up and flows into the nice grassy areas, it should kick off in a hurry.

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  9. So what happened to the pike spawn? I didn't see anyone from any boards do any good ANYWHERE for spawning pike. Kind of odd, usually middle/late March is prime time since that is considered average ice-out. I stand by my thoughts earlier that the fish spawned in early to mid February. Water temps were right, we got some rain and snow, the levels came up, the fish moved in, got it done and nobody noticed.

    Water temps in the DPR are pushing the 60 degree mark, time to start thinking about the bass spawn and post spawn pike.

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    1. I personally didn't get a chance to get back out. I only heard of a couple being caught and the areas they were caught in make sense.

      I suppose they could have spawned super early this year - the weather has been warm enough for it to happen. I still think that the biggest problem with fishing the spawn this year was all tied to water levels. I don't ever remember the river getting high enough to spill into the grassy flats that they typically spawn in.

      That could also mean that the spawn this year resulted in very little successful reproduction. This could be good and bad depending on how you look at it. On one hand, numbers will be down in a few years. On the other hand, the DPR really needs less pike numbers so that the existing fish can grow beyond that 28-30" stunted length they seem to get stuck at.

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Let's hear it!

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