big pike - reindeer lake - saskatchewan
Photo: Steve Zakur

Pike thumb

An honest trade

On a early spring evening, just as the tide goes slack low, you can see bobbing headlamps on the sandbar at the mouth of a certain New England river. Packed into tight groups the anglers will be sharing stories of the outgoing. If all went well, headlamps will be focused on the roughened pads of thumbs. Lipping stripers during a good evening eventually scours the thumb to the texture of well used sand paper. The same happens on a good day of largemouth or smallmouth fishing. Bass thumb isn’t a problem, it’s a badge of honor.

Reindeer Lake - Saskatchewan - Arctic Lodges
Photo: Mike Sepelak

Lunch fish

Monster pike on Saskatchewan's Reindeer Lake

It’s a satisfying gurgle, the sound forged through dark water as a foam creation tied dreamily late one winter night is retrieved in fits and starts over dark, north woods water six months later. Yellow with red painted-on dots, trailed by two white marabou feathers and a few strands of tinsel, it passes as a popper, albeit a poor man’s creation.

view from the turboprop over sub-arctic canada
Photo: Chris Hunt


Seeking pike in the remote, Canadian sub-Arctic

The charter terminal at the Winnipeg Airport is manic this morning. We’re part of a group of anglers awaiting the conclusion of a long journey—one more flight on a tough little turboprop, and we’re there.

Reindeer Lake.

The guys mill around the terminal, watching as the crew weighs and organizes a cargo hold burgeoning with fishing gear. One rod case is a good 12 feet long, spurring me to remark to my buddy Mike, “Who’s fishing with the pole vault?”

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