It was September in northern Minnesota along the Canadian boarder. I was on vacation with Kim’s family at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA). This was a place that the Casto family had visited on many occasions through the years and they wanted to share their experience with me. They have had many successful fishing trips on Moose Lake, where we were staying and the surrounding lakes in the area. Her parents, brother and I chartered a guide to fish Basswood Lake on the first full day of our trip. This was a large lake to the north of our cabin that can only be accessed via portage from Moose Lake. Being an avid fisherman myself, I was excited to get into some large Minnesota Northern Pike! The guide had us set up with live bate rigs using minnows and leaches. This type of fishing, albeit successful, is not my cup of tea. I prefer artificial lures and flies. I gave the guides approach some time, but quickly became board. I started throwing spinner bates and rattle traps. This quickly proved to be successful as I started pulling in one pike after another. Unfortunately, most of these fish were “Kim cabilar” or in other words, small. But, catching fish of any size is fun in my book!
It was late in the afternoon and I had been experiencing a lull in the action. We had just moved to a new spot with a nice weed edge so I decided to try a new spinner bate. First cast and…..BOOM! Fish on! However, as usual it was another dink. I was playing the small pike for all it was worth talking to the guide about something or other when something pulled on my rod bending it in half. Almost ripping it out of my hands, as I was not paying close attention to the small fish I was bringing in. Looking at the water I could see a HUGE mass of a fish come up from the weeds with a small pike in its mouth. The same small pike that was attached to my lure! I was so excited that I yelled “SHARK ATTACK!” and starting dancing around the boat trying to get the guide to see what was going on. I was so dumbfounded that I stopped fighting the fish and just stared in amazement. This, as you would expect, resulted in the giant pike releasing the small pike and swimming away unscathed. I had only a few scales of left on my lure.
At this point the Muskie fisherman came through and I said “I need bigger lures!” That evening I went to the local tackle shop and picked up a few large Muskie plugs. My favorite of which was a large pink spinner called a Cowgirl. We had another guided trip to Basswood in 2 days and I couldn’t wait to try my new lures.
The second day of fishing was much slower than the first. We decided to go into a back bay at the opposite end of the lake that the guide had some luck in before. There was a large weed bed next to a steep ledge. I started casting my hot pink Cowgirl into the weed bed. The guide says to me “that lure is huge!, they wont bite that thing.” After a few casts I had a hook up, a decent sized pike, not huge but defiantly larger than most of the pike I had been catching the past few days. I continued to throw the buck tail for another 20 minutes. Then, out of nowhere, I had a strike. The rod bent in half and the line started pealing off the spool. I tell the guide “this is a nice fish, get the net” After a few minutes of head thrashing I get the fish to the boat. It…. Was…. Huge!!!. I was able to slide the fish into the net and get her on board. It measured about 45 inches, defiantly the largest Northern Pike I had ever caught!
I don’t know if I was more excited to have caught this large fish or to have seen the “Shark Attack” occur 2 days before. These moments were the highlight of my trip.