First pike of the season

Fly Fishing for Big Pike in Western New York

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With the first Saturday in May being not all that far off, I need to be thinking about tactics for pike.  Northern Pike, plentiful in Western New York, are my favorite species to catch.  They grow big, are aggressive strikers, and decent fighters, pound for pound.

First pike of the season

One of my goals this year is to take a 24” plus pike on the fly rod.  I often catch smaller chain pickerel when targeting bass during pre spawn/spawn, but to go after the big pike, you need to think differently.

At the very least, you need to have an 8 weight fly rod.  Redington makes a Predator series rod in 9 or 10 weights, and they specifically recommended those to me when I asked them on Twitter.

Redington Predator Specialized Fast and Powerful Action Fly Rods Free WW Shipping!!

I also plan on using a thin gauge steel leader as a tippet, and likely tapered 10 pound material from the fly line on down.  The fly line itself will be floating, and the fly selection will be big poppers, thick floating bunny streamers with cork heads, and potentially sunfish patterns.

Fly fishing from a kayak is a rewarding experience.  You can quietly get into areas without making ground vibrations.  You do need to be careful of the shadow the kayak casts, but each appraoch will dictate how to handle that.

A few things to bear in mind:

1.) Paddle into your spots quietly.

2.) Be VERY careful setting your paddle down.  A dropped paddle on a hollow sit on top kayak sounds like a cannon underwater.

3.)  Fish near the kayak first, then extend out your casts.  Don’t line any pike you don’t have to.

Here’s a great video on tactics for hooking and landing REALLY big pike on surface flies. Enjoy!

 

Early Season Kayak Fly Fishing on Canadice Lake

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Nestled into the hills just a stones’ throw south of Rochester, Canadice Lake presents a wonderful opportunity for any fly fisherman who owns a kayak or a canoe.

I’ve had the opportunity to dip the bow three times so far this season, and Canadice has yet to disappoint. I’ve taken 7 species on the fly rod so far, and the opportunity for that eighth, ninth, and tenth will bring me back.

This largemouth bass couldn't resist a small popper.

This largemouth bass couldn't resist a small popper.

So far I’ve managed to boat smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, rock bass, big golden shiners, blue gill, sunfish, and crappie.

Certainly, all of these species are available for the spin caster as well, but the opportunity to take them on the long rod is especially evident here and is what really makes this lake special to me.

On my “to catch list” remain the rainbow trout, brown trout, and pickerel. Lakers also prowl the depths, as well as the rare landlocked salmon, but I’m not as confident I can take those on a fly.

Starting early mornings, pre season bass are plentiful, with the occasional “big one” hanging close to shore. Poppers and zonkers tend to work well, but I’m sure that Muddler Minnows and any bait fish imitation you have in the box will do the trick.

The panfish species are abundant as well, and grow to respectable sizes. So plentiful, in fact, that anyone targeting bass on the fly should find that they have a great day, numbers wise, even if to their annoyance. Since the tactics are so similar in some regards, you’re just bound to be able to catch a limit of bluegill and sunnies, and then some.

At the right time of day, which for me are normally early mornings, you’ll see the trout rising along the breaks, sipping at emergers. Paddling up quietly would appear to do the trick, but they have eluded me so far. Canadice tends to be VERY still as the sun comes up, so presentation is key. Anyone who’s fished for trout on a lake with a fly rod will know exactly what I mean.

.Redington RS4 9052 Fly Rod-2 pc w/ Moss Rise Reel 5 wt.

So that leaves the chain pickerel, the toothiest of Canadice’s denizens. In my limited experience there, they tend to be hanging a ways off shore, in 6 to 10 feet of water, looking back in towards the tree lines for their next meal. A fellow fly rodder took a few on poppers while we were out, as they followed his big popper right up to the kayak. Have a fish grip and some pliers handy if you want your fly back.

Canadice is peaceful, and can give you the impression of “fine and far off” fly fishing even though you’re not that far off at all. Herons, osprey, tall trees and no houses make it a peaceful fishing experience, with only the occasional small outboard motor to cover up the calls of turkey from the surrounding woods.

It’s a lake any kayak fly fisherman should put on their “to do” list, even if only once.
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