It's no secret that I adore pickerel. Tenacity is something I respect in any species, and nobody could deny that Esox niger is one tenacious fish. I also like to break out the lighter tackle now and then and still target fish that pull hard and eat with bad intentions, and CT's big pike demand a heavier tackle class than the more readily available pickerel. This time of year these savage little fish really start calling my name. They don't mind the cold water, in fact they prefer it. So on days when the smallies are hugging the bottom and unwilling to come up, I'd rather just rip flashy streamers a few inches under the surface for something toothier and of a similar size. Watching them wake up on a fly then unload on it, mouth wide open and gills flared, just never gets old for me no mater how many times I've seen their bigger brethren do the same thing. I recognize species is it's on class, so for me it's just as exciting to catch a 26 inch pickerel as it is to catch a 45 inch pike. Each is a trophy, each a challenge to catch on the fly.
I got once last week and briefly yesterday to sling some feathers at the least respected member of the Esox genus and I had a grand ol' time. The waters were dark and tannin stained from the freshly fallen leaves and rain. The air was calm and wet both days. And the fish were in attack mode.
Yesterday I hooked four pickerel, all over 20 inches, and landed three of them. Of course the one fish I dropped was a slop at easily 25 inches and extremely fat, she spat the hook right at the bank and left me with slumped shoulders and a sour look on my face.
Generally I keep targeting these fish until ice stops me from doing so. Given how much I progressed in ice fishing last year, don't doubt that I'll be out looking for some slime darts even after the fly rod is no longer an option. These fish are just to fun not to try for through the ice too!