Voracious pike alter the balance at Pushaw
By Tom Hennessey
Posted April 13, 2012, at 5:53 p.m.
On March 31, I had the pleasure of fishing for pike with Chris West and Tyler Grant. Considering they started fishing at Pushaw Stream on March 16 and had since caught 46 pike, you could say I was well-guided. But before you tow your boat and tackle to that marshy waterway, understand that my guides weren’t casting lures. Instead, they were fishing with trap nets. Formerly a park ranger with the Department of Conservation, Chris West is now under contract with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Tyler Grant is a fisheries biologist with six years of employment at DIF&W.
No sooner had we launched and crunched through shell ice to reach open water than the outboard overheated. “Murphy’s Law,” Chris declared on discovering that the waterline had frozen and broken. “Well,” said Tyler, “that’s why they make paddles.” Fortunately, the nets to be checked were close by — paddling a 15-foot aluminum boat is like paddling a bathtub. The first net produced a pregnant female pike that measured 33½ inches and weighed 8 pounds. An 18-incher was taken from the second net. On hearing that a spawning female pike produces, on average, 9,000 eggs per pound, I thought, there goes the neighborhood.
Think about it: that 8-pound female would have produced 72,000 eggs, give or take. Let alone the productivity of a 17-pounder netted last year, and a 15-pounder caught earlier this year. For the record, pike begin spawning immediately after ice-out. Two nets set farther downstream contained perch, shiners, suckers, hornpout and pickerel, but no pike. There was no lack of pleasure though, as we gabbed about hunting, fishing and the way life should be. All things considered, Chris West and Tyler Grant couldn’t have been more accommodating and, as always, the entertainment in the grand theater of the outdoors was well worth the price of admission.
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