Esox petricus invisibilus
“We were about to head over and work the weed line, when I spotted something that looked strangely out of place next to that lone stick of grass. We slowly moved over to take a look, and there was Peter, stuck in behind that one bit grass, with an expression on his face that only a mother could love.
I guess you could say that Peter was not exactly the sharpest knife, or in this case Pike, in the drawer, because you got the distinct impression, he thought that he was invisible…”
Some fish just can’t seem to catch a break.
Take the much maligned Pike for example. First off, just look at the names people call them.
Do you know what a pike is? It ‘s a long spear, with a sharp end that Vlad the Impaler - better known as Count Dracula - used for displaying the severed heads of his enemies. How would you like to be called a Pike? Take the common Latin or “scientific” name – Esox lucius. The literal translation is “Water Wolf,” and you know what most people think of wolves.
Other names Esox is known by include Jackfish, Slime’r, Snot Rocket, Hammer Handle and Gator, so its little wonder that Pike tend to be somewhat reclusive in nature and rather bad tempered.
An article by a marine biologist I once read stated “the Pike has an ambiguous relationship with man” – duh. I think what he meant to say, was that we either love them or hate them. Personally I love them, and by the way, contrary to popular belief, you don’t fish for Pike – you hunt them.
Pike have a distinct personality and a take no prisoners approach to life. When you bring a Pike to the boat, there is no question that it wants a piece of you. It glares directly into your eyes, and can’t wait to see if you are going to be stupid enough to reach down and try to either remove the hook with your bare hand, or flip it into the boat. Bring another type of fish to the boat, and it either gives you a blank stare – like a Walleye – or looks like it’s about to cry, as is the case with all members of the trout family.
They are also very smart. Sometimes that old Gator will just play possum until you get him into the boat - and then all hell breaks loose. The result is that you usually have to dig several trebles out of some part of your body and, if you were dumb enough to use a net, you will spend the next hour trying to detach your lure, and just about everything else in the boat that is likely wrapped up in the mesh.
So let me tell you about Peter, or if you prefer, call him by the scientific name I hung on him - Esox petricus invisibilus.
I met Peter in Hottah Lake, which is located in the Northwest Territories. We were on the hunt one evening, and quietly moved into a large bay that had good weed cover over most of its surface area.
The remaining part of the bay was shallow, with very clear water and, except for one lone stick of grass that just broke the surface, it was completely clear of any cover.
We were about to head over and work the weed line, when I spotted something that looked strangely out of place next to that lone stick of grass. We slowly moved over to take a look, and there was Peter, stuck in behind that one bit grass, with an expression on his face that only a mother could love. I guess you could say that Peter was not exactly the sharpest knife, or in this case Pike, in the drawer, because you got the distinct impression, he thought that he was invisible.
Picture the scene. We are in no more than three feet of water, and but for that little stick of grass, there is not a shred of cover for at least twenty five to thirty yards on either side of it. Peter, who was at least twelve pounds from what we could see, is lurking behind this rather sparse piece of cover, presumably waiting for dinner to swim by. We moved towards him a little, thinking that maybe he was having a nap, or stuck in the mud – but no – he was on the hunt and giving us the evil eye as we drew closer.
By now, we were no more than ten yards away, and he certainly did not appear to have any inclination to move out of his hiding place. I was convinced Peter really believed that we couldn’t see him. This was just too weird. I had no interest in catching him, but I wanted to be sure that he was not in a coma or something, so I flipped my spoon out about twenty five feet to his right and, the moment it hit the water, Peter turned, and darted towards it, stopping about ten feet short, and then hastily retreated and tucked himself back behind his lone stick of grass. I threw another cast this time to his left, and he did exactly the same thing. I thought I would try one last cast, and drop one in front of him, but I put it a bit too close, and he had the spoon shortly after it hit the water. What he may have lacked in stealth, he certainly made up for in speed.
Peter made a couple of good runs and splashed around a lot and, when I finally got him to the side of the boat, I could see that he was really quite long. If he had been feeding regularly – in a place where there was some food as a for instance - he could have easily topped twenty pounds.
Our guide, deciding to take his life in his own hands, brought Peter into the boat for a quick picture and once released, he beat a hasty retreat back to his hiding place, no doubt thinking that having scared off the intruders he could now get back to some serious hunting.
We don’t often think about a fish as having either a personality or character – but then again, as far as I know, none of you has ever met Peter.
Who says that all the really interesting characters you meet on a fishing trip have to be people?