This past Saturday was one of the most anticipated days of the year for hard-core Michigan anglers.
The opener of trout season.
The walleye and pike opener.
The first day for catch-and-release bass fishing.
And I had to coach a soccer game at 8:30 a.m.
That didn’t keep me off the water. It just meant my first fishing foray of the year was delayed a few hours.
By the time 11 a.m. rolled around, I was on the water, and despite the frigid temps and biting wind, I had two kids along — my 11-year-old daughter, Miriam, and my 7-year-old son, Harrison.
Both chose fishing with dad over staying home with mom, which totally made my day.
It wasn’t a banner day on the water, but we did have some success casting for pike. It’s always satisfying when one of those lures you scour out of a bargain bin over the icy winter months pays dividends, and that was the case on Saturday.
After a few of my go-to baits failed to produce any action, I tied on a Rapala Clackin’ Rap. I’m quite sure it’s something I saw Al Lindner use with great success on Lindner’s Angling Edge — always a sure way to get me to add something to my overflowing tackle box.
This time, it worked. On my fourth or fifth cast with the new lure, something slammed it, and after a quick battle, Harrison slipped the net under a healthy 29-inch northern pike, which we deposited into the livewell.
Two casts later and another pike crushed the Clackin’ Rap, and this time, I let Miriam pull in a feisty 22-incher, which we released.
Like any good fisherman, I hadn’t bought just one Clackin’ Rap — I grabbed a handful of them, so I tied one onto Harrison’s line, and a few casts later, he was hooked up, and he landed a pretty 20-inch northern.
I would have loved to stay out and throw another few hundred casts, but by this time the kids’ teeth were chattering, and we had other plans for later in the day, so we headed back to the launch, cold but happy and eager for more — and hopefully warmer — days on the water.
Once home, I headed into the garage, filet knife in hand, and turned the largest of the three pike into a few beautiful filets — without bones, thanks to instructions found on YouTube.
If you’ve never tried pike, you’re missing out. A dusting of batter and a quick dip in some bubbling hot oil and we were treated to a fantastic dinner.