A New Kind of Battle

The end of October.  The beautiful fall colors have dropped from the limbs, now rotting on the forest floor and my gutters.  The water temperatures are below 50, the air temperature in the 30's at night.  I hit one of our favorite lakes with a buddy, hoping to get into some of the 5-6 lb. bass of recent weeks.

I was currently holding onto 2nd place with 60.75" for the KBF Regional Challenge (MN, WI, MI).  My fellow FeelFree Kayak Fishing Team member Mike McKinstry was 1.5" ahead of me in first place.  I needed 2 21" tankers or a 22" monster to move ahead (note 3 fish bags over 60" are extremely tough in this region - we had both been blessed with an epic month).

The conditions seemed right.  The skies overcast, rain in the forecast, and a light breeze.  But they weren't.  The water temperatures low, bass were not as active.  We found ourselves catching Northern Pike and dink bass.  I had landed a nice 24" Northern Pike with a good amount of meat on it.  I was keeping a few medium Pike for my family to pickle, so I tied it on the stringer.  I couldn't resist and posted on Facebook, tagging Mike, that I had just landed a 24"er.  I put the photo of the Pike in the comments, successfully making his heart skip a beat.
I continue to work the vegetation where the Pike and bass tend to hide to ambush large prey without success.  Pointing my bow downwind, I work my way back to the other side of the lake which has more rocks and structure.  Unfortunately, this area too has a slow bite.  I'm only able to boat dink bass.  Growing frustrated, I decide to tie on my secret weapon that pulled a 19.5" bass out of the Mississippi this summer when nothing was biting.  It is a LoverTail 2 by James Gang Lure Co.  Designed by a local kid named Alex, it is an amazing high-quality lure.  Check them out here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jamesgangfishing/

A few casts in I see a long silver torpedo shooting through the water, past the LoverTail 2.  It circles back and t-bones the lure with amazing force.  The razor-sharp hook latches on strong, my Denny Brauer medium action bass rod doubles over more than it has all season.  My Ardent Apex Pro with 50 lb. braid is able to land the powerful fish without a problem.  (I am a bass angler so I did feel a bit awkward trying to land this pike since I have a small net and they razor-sharp teeth).  Check out the video on my YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/4OQOrN6WvmU.

Happy with this catch, I continue working the LoverTail 2.  Not long after, my pole doubles over again.  Except this time is different.  With 50 lb. braid, I have my drag VERY tight.  Line is going out.  I have a monster on the line!  The beast takes me for a sleigh ride in my kayak as I pull it nearer.  I get a look of the beast and it is a Northern Pike, approximately 40" in length.  My eyes bulge at the sight of such a large fish.  Without a large net, I'm at a severe disadvantage as I reach for my FishGrips.  The Pike darts under my hull.  A fish this large is intelligent, this one proving so by knocking the hook free with a bump to the underside of my kayak.  

As I take a moment to catch my breath and stop shaking, I yell "Nooooooooooo!!!!".  I message my buddy Chang Lor of www.cxfishing.com who landed a 40"+ Northern Pike via kayak this year to tell him I think his released Pike is alive an well.

I assess the damage.  The monster bent the thick Gamakatsu hook on my LoverTail 2.  It is otherwise untouched.  Another advantage of the LoverTail 2.  An extremely strong lure modular enough to repair the "consumable" parts (hook and paddle tail).  

I left the lake exhausted and disappointed I couldn't move up in the KBF leader board.  However, I left with a new addiction, Pike fishing.  I'm already planning to purchase an Ardent Magnum reel and Edge heavy action rod for next year.  Strung with 65 lb. braid, that big pike will end up in my FeelFree Lure next year.