Published April 29, 2011, 07:50 AM

Monster pike: fact and fiction

Until about 25 years ago, the recognized world record northern pike was a fish from Sacandaga Reservoir in New York State — a fish caught in 1940 that weighed 46 pounds 2 ounces. Then stories circulated about a new world record northern pike being caught in Germany, but it wasn’t until the March/April issue of Sporting Classics magazine came to my mailbox that I finally saw a picture of the behemoth, and read a short account of its taking.

By: Bernie Kuntz, Outdoors, The Jamestown Sun

Until about 25 years ago, the recognized world record northern pike was a fish from Sacandaga Reservoir in New York State — a fish caught in 1940 that weighed 46 pounds 2 ounces. Then stories circulated about a new world record northern pike being caught in Germany, but it wasn’t until the March/April issue of Sporting Classics magazine came to my mailbox that I finally saw a picture of the behemoth, and read a short account of its taking.

The angler was Lothar Louis, a carp fisherman who fished from the shore at Greffern Lake, West Germany. It was his habit to make a few casts with a spoon before baiting up his carp gear. On Oct. 16, 1986 he was retrieving his third cast with the spoon when the lure suddenly stopped. He battled the pike for half an hour, tiring the fish, but had no landing net so he leaped into the water, jammed his hands into the gills and hauled the pike onto shore. The enormous northern pike weighed an even 55 pounds on a butcher shop scale, and the new all-tackle world record!

Four or five years ago I read unsubstantiated reports of another giant pike that supposedly was caught at Cedar Lake, Manitoba by an Indian who said his pike weighed 55 pounds and was 59 inches in length. This was not official, of course, nor was there a name of the angler, date of catch, lure used, a picture of the fish, or any other information that might authenticate the catch.

At about the same time, several people e-mailed a picture to me of a young man grimacing as he held an alligator-like northern pike across his lap. The pike was said to weigh 56 pounds and be 55 inches in length, but again, there was not a shred of information about the angler or the fish, except a terse caption that read, “caught somewhere in Canada.”

I searched outdoor magazines for pictures and stories about the two alleged pike but found nothing, which leads me to believe both fish were hoaxes.

It reminded me of a story I heard the first few years I began fishing in Saskatchewan of a pike caught in nets by an Indian, and with head cut off and entrails removed, the fish was said to still weigh 37 pounds. But again, there was no documentation.

The next story is a true one, although the pike isn’t close to world record size. It comes from the Annual Fishing Newsletter published by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Last year a young guy named Ivan Keeney of Kalispell was making his first attempts at fly-fishing with a $21 outfit he had just bought at a discount store, and practicing catching planted rainbow trout at one of the family fishing ponds in Kalispell. He decided to try fishing for northern pike at Smith Lake, located west of Kalispell. Fishing from a canoe he caught a number of small pike, and then hooked a big one that he fought for an hour before bringing the fish near his canoe. Since he had no landing net, he wrapped his coat around his hand, grabbed the fish, and hauled it into the canoe. He brought the fish to FWP headquarters where biologists suggested he take the fish to a certified scale.

The pike weighed exactly 30 pounds, was 47 inches in length, and while it is smaller than the Montana state record of 37.5 pounds, it has been certified as the fly fishing world record northern pike by the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

An interesting after note: Keeney found that the battle cracked his fly-rod, so the Hooked on Fishing Program at FWP gave him a new outfit!

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