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After reading this, some readers, at least those who aren't hardcore anglers, might wonder if I'm in water over my head, but I can't help myself. I've been struggling with this grief for six months, emotions eating up my insides, and I have to talk about it. Psychiatrists might have a not-so-complementary name for this syndrome, but just in case any of them stumble across this tribute out there on the Internet, I hope they don't tell me what it's called. Once upon a time--last September, actually--during a pike-fishing trip to Oliver Lake in northern Saskatchewan, I developed a special relationship--not with a person or a pet, but with a fishing lure. It certainly wasn't love at first sight. Quite to the contrary, Pikey, as we named it, had to suffer through our scorn and disbelief that it could ever catch a fish. Pikey had to earn our respect.

Eulogizing Pikey

After reading this, some readers, at least those who aren’t hardcore anglers, might wonder if I’m in water over my head, but I can’t help myself. I’ve been struggling with this grief for six months, emotions eating up my insides, and I have to talk about it. Psychiatrists might have a not-so-complementary name for this syndrome, but just in case any of them stumble across this tribute out there on the Internet, I hope they don’t tell me what it’s called.

Once upon a time–last September, actually–during a pike-fishing trip to Oliver Lake in northern Saskatchewan, I developed a special relationship–not with a person or a pet, but with a fishing lure. It certainly wasn’t love at first sight. Quite to the contrary, Pikey, as we named it, had to suffer through our scorn and disbelief that it could ever catch a fish. Pikey had to earn our respect.

Anybody who has spent much time fishing for northern pike knows that on certain days, everything works. When the bite is on, the water wolf viciously attacks virtually anything. I’ve had days when you could accidentally hook your fishing buddy’s hat and cast it into the water and a pike would hit it before it got wet.

But experienced pike anglers also know about days when the master predator of the weed beds can be as fussy as any steelhead or trout that has been caught twenty times. On those days, you need a secret weapon–like Pikey. Actually, “secret weapon” is a bit of an understatement; WMD would be a better fit.

Officially, Pikey is a jerkbait named Salmo Jack, a northern pike imitation made by Salmo. (No comments on why anglers relate to jerkbaits, please.) I’d bought one of these lures, and during our weeklong pike trip last year, we had several of ‘those days,” when nothing seemed to work–except Pikey, of course, for both for numbers of strikes and for size of the fish.

My fishing buddy and I always have this little friendly competition going on about who can find the best lure. On this trip, it was no contest. Pikey not only saved me from the humiliation I’ve almost gotten used to, but it made me the King of the Lake–for once!

Even Mike Pundyk, our guide extraordinaire on this trip, a person who has seen and heard all-things-pike, was impressed. Mano, can that make your neck swell.

It didn’t take long to grow especially fond of this lure. Men are like that, you know, getting attached to inanimate things like baseball hats, pickup trucks, and especially fishing stuff. Just ask any woman about this problem.

To its creator’s credit, they weren’t been fooled by Pikey’s unimposing appearance. In the sales copy on the company website, Salmo states: “When you put it in the water, the gliding action of the Jack proves that looks are more than skin deep.”

Apropos, yes, but another understatement, in my opinion.

As the day went on, fish after fish after fish, to the point where if I’d been my fishing buddy, I might have considered asking if I could use Pikey for a couple of casts, Fortunately, no male ego is that small, because it would be another rejection for him, but like most men, he’s used to it.

Before long, Pikey began to show the signs of its success. Twice I had to bend the hooks back in place and those toothy pike left dozens of gouges and scars on my prized lure. Then, a big one latched on and broke Pikey in half, rendering it unusable. I gently and mournfully retired it to the tackle box and was outfished by all my buddy’s fancy new lures the rest of that day.

Fortunately, I remember thinking, Salmo has a lifetime guarantee for its “best built and best backed” lures, so I could’ve have gotten a new Pikey for free. Instead, though, that night I Superglued Pikey back together again.

(I was so infatuated at that point, I might have simply bought a few more of these pike-like jerkbaits instead of asking for a replacement because that would’ve meant I couldn’t keep my wounded warrior. Yep, I probably would’ve stored Pikeye down in the Man Room so whenever I was depressed or lonely, I could go down lay it on the table and re-live a fish or two. Is that weird?)

The next day, hardly like new but with its same magic, Pikey was back in the game, attracting more monster pike, it seems, than ever. Then, disaster struck. Another big one grabbed my battle-warn champion and broke my line. Pikey was gone.

Silence befell the boat–right after a few expletives echoed away into the horizon, that is. For several minutes I couldn’t speak. Finally, Mike broke the silence, and it was beautiful music.

“There it is,” he shouted.

Alas, Pikey had come back to life. It was a floating lure, and that big pike had thrown it out. There it was, bobbing on the surface, scarred and Superglued, but ready for the beating to continue–sort of the Rocky of the fishing lure world.

You’ve heard about the Fishing God, right? Well, He finally noticed me.

Retrieved, back in action, my Esox WMD kept on hauling them in. Sometimes you could see two or three pike hitting it at the same time, fighting for a chance to get caught. Then, it happened again. My line snapped again as I set the hook.

No cursing this time. We just sat there, silently, foolishly, waiting for Pikey to bob up to the surface again. Agonizing minutes passed, followed my Mike’s grid search of the area.

But Pikey’s time had come. All I have left are these heartfelt words and this grainy photo laboriously retrieved from a video.

We even went back to the same spot the next morning and looked again. How’s that for commitment to a special relationship? But no Pikey.

Now, six months letter and finally recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the least I can do is write this tribute and allow other anglers to know about the best pike lure ever made–and to show non-anglers, the few who managed wade all the way through this eulogy, know how truly strange guys who fish a lot can get.

About Bill Schneider

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2 comments

  1. No two plugs every work alike. I have known commercial salmon trollers who bought boxes of the same plug in the same color and fished them and kept the one that fished, and sold the ones that did not. The good ones are not one in a dozen of identical plugs.

    If you “bug” for steelhead, same deal. You can tune a Hot Shot, wiggle wart, and tune it. And some just catch fish. The rest are just an aquatic distraction.

    Cherish the good ones. Sell the rest at your next tag sale. Cod bless Pikey.

  2. I had a yellow flat fish with green and red dots that did the same thing with trout.
    Haven’t thought of that lure for forty-five years.
    My wife just likes to fish the small streams for planted trout, but last fall I drug down to the bear river where she caught two fairly good sized trout, so I think I can get her to start lake and river fishing this year.