The Boat is Launched a Week After Ice Out

by | May 7, 2023 | pike on the fly | 1 comment

painted-turtleI was pretty sure I saw a turtle drying off on a log two days ago.  It surprised me because ice off on this particular pond was only a week ago.  Furthermore, it was cloudy and the temperature that day was barely 50°.  But I got off my bike and snuck around the swampy edge and confirmed my sighting.


fly-fishingAs I pedaled home it occurred to me that the next day (May 6) was opening day for northern pike and walleye in Northern Wisconsin.  Granny and I have been chomping at the bit to get out but it’s been cold, I’ve been battling my shoulder and we’ve been working hard setting up our basement.  We repaired a lot of things on this fixer-upper house last year but we never hardly moved in.  But the turtle reminded me, if I didn’t get the boat out soon I’d be wasting time.


When I arrived home I suggested fishing and Granny was all about it.  But instead of hitting the forecasted rainy opener, we opted for today.  The forecast was for cool and drizzly but winds were 3 mph.  We readied the boat and at 5:15 AM this morning drove an hour east to try a lake I’ve been studying on the map for year.



I’d consider this a typical spring in Northern WI.  Folks say it’s a late one and perhaps it is, but its still early May.  For me, as long as the birds have arrived I’m happy.  And most of them have and as I rowed us away from the boat ramp the birds were going off with an assortment of beautiful spring songs.  I cherish these moments because they remind me of trout fishing openers with dad as a very young kid.  And spring doesn’t last long.


Granny-CurrierBefore I suggested starting, Granny was already false casting my Winston 6-weight Air 2.  On this rig is a floating Amplitude Smooth line and a stout wired leader.  Granny had one fish on her mind, shallow water northern pike.  For some, this outfit and such a big yellowish fly would be challenge to cast but she didn’t miss a beat.


pike-fliesThe areas I target pike shortly after ice out are the shallows.  I love protruding logs and leftover weed beds from the previous season.  I had Granny drop her fly inches from the bank with slow long retrieves.  Within five cast the first bow wave approached and smacked her fly.


pikeWhen there’s a ton of snags that fish can tangle you on, I suggest pressuring in your fish as fast as possible.  Why give them a chance to break you off under a log?  Granny uses my playbook and in no time she racked up a half dozen hammer handle pike.  Though these guys are pickerel size, they’re a heap of fun on a 6-weight.


fishing-two-fliesI let Granny do most the fishing because I was comfortably rowing.  I emphasize “comfortably” with a smile because of my partially torn rotator cuff.  I’m hoping to avoid the suggested surgery at all costs.  The injury has required a ton of physical therapy the last few months, attempting to strengthen the core muscles around the tear.  Being able to row gives me lots of confidence that I’m heading the right direction.  I said “most the fishing”.  I had a bug in me to catch some crappie today so I tossed my 4-weight a time or two and landed five black crappie.  Two came on one cast.  My second double already this year!


huge-fishWe had a couple hours of great fun.  The action was pretty nonstop with the aggressive small pike.  We had plans to whack one 23”-25” pike for dinner but the only one we caught in this size range was barely hooked.  I dislodged the barbless fly without even touching the fish and let him go.  With all the fish Granny was catching, I figured she would get another.  But instead, she hooked into one that was too big to keep!


Currier-northernsToo big to keep for us is any pike in northern Wisconsin that are over 30”.  Sure, 30” pike are babies in Canada, but in most places in the lower 48 states, these are nice fish.  And each that we release safely, could turn into that rare monster.


Granny was getting a kick out of twitching her fly around at the end of every retrieve to the boat.  The water here was black dark and although your fly stands out, its hard to see a fish following even when you see the wave.  So messing around next to the boat was the only time she could see the pike eat her fly.  Once doing this late in the morning she let out a squeal.  I knew, this time she had more than an ordinary pike on.


Granny-flyfishingIt was a fantastic fight.  No doubt, an 8-weight would have helped here.  But Granny has the experience and soon I slid the net under our biggest pike since we moved to WI a year ago.


catch-and-releaseGranny hoisted her brute on board to safely dislodge the fly.  The big northern was well behaved and we were able to snap a few photos.  Then Granny leaned over the edge of our blue bathtub boat and let her go.



This was Granny’s first day of fishing since Baja and she was having a day.  But when she went tight again and it turned out to be a huge largemouth bass, I couldn’t believe it.  A week after ice out and she was blind casting into pike water and pulled out the biggest largemouth I’ve seen in a while.  My girl was on fire!


We called it a day after we released the overgrown bass.  And what a day it was.  In fact, it was still morning because we got such an early start!


WisconsinWe hope to get on another lake soon.  However, next on our docket is a trip down to the Driftless for some trout fishing with friends.  Stay tuned for some trout fishing reports.


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing

1 Comment

  1. Howie

    Granny getting it done!! What a great day in the North.

Welcome to the Blog of Jeff Currier!

Contact Jeff

I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!