Last cast of the trip, the storybook ending

danny pike

danny mcintire

ann arbor mi

Species: Northern Pike

Date Caught: 08/26/2012

Kept / Released: Released

Region of Catch: Region 1

Length: 40

Weight: 17 (est.)

Lure / Bait used: Lure | 3/8 oz, black/white skirt nickel blade spinnerbait

Craig Lake State Park is one of Michigans most remote. The land was acquirred by the state in the 60's and remains mostly unsettled. The lakes in the rec area all have special fishing regs including artificial lures only, catch and release on most species, and no motors of anykind allowed on the water. The access to craig lake is somewhat of an adventure itself, about a quarter mile trail through the woods. It doesnt sound bad, but when we add the canoe plus all the gear for our 4 night camping trip, it was not as easy as we thought. We had planned the trip for months, and the main reason for the trip was the trophy pike and musky fishing. The three of us that went had never caught a musky and the biggest pike collectively was 36 inches. By the last day of the trip, we fished for nearly 30 hours, netted 124 fish, mostly northern pike, between 22 and 28 inches, a couple coming close to 30. The "fish of 10000 casts" and the trophy pike had eluded us, but we had an awesome trip all in. On friday morning we broke camp down, loaded the canoe and started the 2 mile trip from our campsite down the lake and to the portage through the woods back to our truck. We each decided to keep one combo out each and fish a couple of the holes that had consistenly produced for us the previous days. The other 2 quickly landed fish, and we made our way further down the lake. Not more than 200 yards from our portage was one of our hotspots for the week, a small creek entering a cove, where reeds and lily pads dotted the shollows, and a large submerged weedbed in about 6 feet of water. Not more than 2 or 3 casts onto the weedbed edge and a wake pushed by something very large followed my spinnerbait without a stike. My next cast was maybe 10 feet from the previous, and almost immediately had a strike. As fast as the strike was, even quicker was it gone...completely. My 20 lb power pro had been cut clean. Not giving in to defeat and having a renewed enthusiasm, i quickly retied. i was unsure of the color, the green pumpkins/bronze blades had been producing, and all i had left was a black and white with a nickel blade. Once i was re-rigged i cast my lure into the water, about 60 feet off the weedbed in a little deeper water. i had mybe 2 or 3 revolutions on my stradic when i got hit again...I set the hook, and immediately knew this fish had some weight. I didnt know exactly how big the fish was until a few minutes later, when its head broke the surface maybe 20 feet from the canoe. I let the others know "this is the biggest pike ive had on" and "i donno how, but were gonna dig that net out of the bottom of the canoe because theres no way i can land the fish alone". By the time fish was boatside they managed to get the net out and scoop the fish out of the water. I knew this was a personal best for me, but to get an accurate measurent we had to paddle to shore and properly measure the fish. Luckily we were no more 90 feet from shore, minimizing the stress on the fish. When we reached shore i held the fish underwater while the measuring tape was located. The fish barely broke the 40 inch mark, and was nearly 17 inches around at its fattest. We took the fish out of the water once again for a couple photos and then back into the water. the fish took no more 10 or 15 seconds to fully revive and swim through my hold and towards deep water. With the adrenaline still flowing we decided out trip could not have ended on a higher note, and that on that last cast cast of the trip, we had our trophy northern pike. We got back into the canoe, paddled for 5 more minutes, and it was time to say "see ya next year craig lake!". Once back to truck, it was a 10 hour drive back home, every second of it worth it, to experience not only the beauty and strength of the fish, but the 4 nights and 5 days away from the modern world.

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