Pinehurst: Big Bait, Big Fish – Episode 458

This Fish’n Canada episode brings Pete Bowman back to the province of Alberta. It may be a surprise to learn that Alberta is home to some of the biggest Pike we’ve ever caught here at Fish’n Canada. Take last year with the Cooper Tire boys for example, when we caught several 45 to 50 inch Pike—proportions usually associated with the Northwest Territories or even Alaska. Those memories were still fresh in Pete’s mind, and he was certainly excited at the prospect of bagging some more.

He’s fishing with Ray Kohlruss, Alberta guide extraordinaire who mostly concentrates on the Athabasca River, Northern Alberta, and the Edmonton area, as well as the lakes around Lac La Biche. This episode takes place on Pinehurst Lake in the Lakeland Provincial Park about twenty minutes from the town of Lac La Biche.

HIGH HOPES

With hopes so high from unbelievable past fishing experiences, it’s almost a disappointment if you don’t get a fish on the first few casts; but that’s exactly what happened on the first leg of this trip. Casting a variety of Pike baits to weed beds and weedy shorelines, Pete and Ray were getting hits right from the get-go, but all the Pike are small. This can be a typical experience on pretty much any lake, as usually the bigger fish are tucked into the absolute best locations—which is usually less than five percent of a lake.

Since the shoreline fishing wasn’t working out, Pete’s next thought was to look for offshore structure. As with all our shoots when the boys can’t tow the Princecraft FNC1, they brought the portable Garmin along. Even if the boats they are using have electronics, it’s always a bonus if they can use the stuff they’re acquainted with. By moving away from the shoreline and using these electronics, they could and did locate more classic structure like mid-lake humps and deep extending points.

“In an attempt to isolate big Pike and compensate for the deeper water that Ray and I are now fishing,” explained Pete, “we switched to large saltwater jigs.”

WALLEYE SURPRISE

This change in tactics and presentation seemed to make no difference at all; in fact, it had the opposite effect. Pike being Pike—crazy, that is—they’ll try to eat whatever they think they can get between their teeth; especially the small ones, which seemed to be the only ones around. But the Walleye were crushing these large baits. And these Walleye were big! This was some of the best casting for Walleye Pete’s ever had, and something he would never have tried had this situation not shown up.

But they were still looking for big Pike.

“In the past,” Pete says, “Ang and I have sometimes gone with smaller Walleye baits in a downsize-finesse attempt to bag giant Pike. I mean, the big stuff isn’t working so why not? It’s almost like a double-negative. Ray and I upsized the normal, which didn’t work, so now we’ll downsize the typical. Don’t worry, I’m confused, too!”

With that move, Pete bagged the biggest Walleye of the trip—a real beauty. A bonus fish on a Pike trip, for sure.

“At this point, I thought we did it. I thought we figured out the big Pike pattern. I mean, that fish fought like a tank. But the reality was we were not at all surprised. You’d think by then I would have got the message. This was not going to be a show about big Pike in Alberta. This was about an amazing Walleye fishery in Pinehurst Lake, Alberta.”

CHANGE OF PLANS

But with just a few hours left to go, and all the big Walleye the guys could handle, they still wanted to catch that big Pike.

 

“The only thing we hadn’t done is troll,” says Pete. “So Ray and I decided to make a run over some of the deeper structures that we’d been jigging for the last few hours and had a pretty good idea of the contours and features. If the Walleye were hugging the bottom, then maybe the Pike were suspended. And this time, we were going to pull baits that the friggin’ Canadian Record Walleye wouldn’t tangle with.”

Bingo! Finally, they caught the only big Pike of the trip—and a pretty respectable fish as well.

THE LESSON

I suppose one could say, “better luck next year,” in terms of Pike. But seriously? This is one of the most successful Walleye fishing trips ever, even if it was unexpected. Best of all, Pete learned an important lesson: using big baits to catch big fish isn’t just for Bass in Florida, Lake Trout in Great Bear, or late fall Georgian Bay muskies. It worked so well on those Western Walleye, that Pete will definitely be bringing that tactic back home.


 

SPECIAL THANKS

 

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