Pike on the Fly, AZ Style

Arizona is known for a lot of things but Northern Pike are not usually one of them. Thankfully we do have some high country here and the water stays cool enough year round to support a great populations of them. Yesterday four of us headed North from the valley. We spent the day fishing beefy fly rods, giant flies resembling deceased furry roadkill, and murky water surrounded by pines all with one thing on our minds… toothy Pike.

Pike are made for fly fishing. They live in shallow water, eat big things, and fight hard. Even a small fish will bend a rod over and peel line out of your hands with blistering speed. Not something usually experienced in fresh water fly fishing.

It was a great day with 22 to hand between all of us. We were lucky enough to have Matt along who besides catching the most and the biggest of the day, also took some amazing photos. Most of the shots below are his doing.
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New-comer, and next door neighbor of mine, Denton has only been fly fishing for two months. He killed it yesterday bringing in a 32″ Northern on a fly he tied.
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As I mentioned before, Matt took big fish honors this trip. He picked out a huge fire tiger rabbit fly, made a great bomber cast, and slowly stripped it back. The line suddenly went tight, the fish stayed deep and made three big runs. We all watched in awe.
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Matt played the fish perfectly and after two failed grabs at the shore, I finally tailed it and the fight was over. We all cheered and snapped some quick photos. Fish measured 38 inches.
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A true trophy Northern Pike. People spend thousands of dollars and travel to the remote far North of Canada for just a shot at fish like this. We released her back to continue the self sustaining fishery and so someone else may catch her at some point. The fish and game here would be happy to see all pike eradicated from the state as they compete with non native trout. We hope that never happens. This type of fishing beats the pants off of bait fishing for stocked rainbows. Hopefully the voice of our small group of anglers can be heard… LONG LIVE THE PIKE!
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14 Responses to “Pike on the Fly, AZ Style”

  1. Denton Says:

    Awesome trip. The fishing was unbelievable. Love the fact that I have a chance at catching these beautiful fish in az. The pike rush won’t let me think about anything but these toothy beasts!

  2. LOAH Says:

    Pike on the fly sounds like a blast. I knew there were some pretty good lakes for them down there.

    Glad it worked out.

  3. Kyle Says:

    Thanks guys, and great work again Denton!

  4. Kirk Says:

    Sweet. Big Pike are awesome! How do you guys set up the steel leaders for the fly rod, and what wt fly rods are you using? I’m traveling to Minnesota next weekend for family stuff, but I’m trying to talk my uncles into a day of pike fishing. It won’t be with the long rod (can’t carry them on the plane), but pike slamming an enormous bucktail is pretty sweet too! Thanks for getting me pumped up.

  5. Alex Says:

    The Fish and Game guys I talk to don’t seem to care either way, I find. I would love a trophy pike population fed by $30,000-$40,000 worth of factory-fish. But the complaining wheel gets the grease and baiters who can’t fill their coolers with stockers yell pretty loud about the pike eating all their freezer-fodder. So it goes.

    That biggun’s a hog. Good job.

  6. Kyle Says:

    @ Kirk- We were throwing 8wts. I just use straight 30lb Flouro and dont have problems with bite throughs. Sounds like you will have a great trip!

    @ Alex- Hopefully this and lots of other guys can serve as a squeeky wheel the other way. And I dont think you need to feed them trout. Thats way too expensive. Why not manage four or five lakes at Pike fisheries and put in a self sustaining forage fish like shad or fat heads? Progressive thinking, who needs that…

  7. Alex Says:

    Thinking is hard. Reacting is much easier, apparently.

  8. brookieguy1 Says:

    Awesome Kyle! Just curious, is the water always that muddy or is it from all the fish you’re fighting. Is the cloudy water why you use the “bulky” flies?

  9. David Knapp Says:

    Great fish and pictures! I haven’t had the opportunity to do much pike fishing but wish I had a good fishery closer to where I live so I could learn more about them. Looks like a lot of fun…

  10. Kyle Says:

    The water is really muddy all the time, especially on low water years like we’re having. The fish really like something that pushed lots of water and moves a lot. Seems you cant tie too big which is fun.

    David, come on down!

  11. Sharla Says:

    You are such a wild and crazy fisherman

  12. Iain Emmons Says:

    Kyle, great post and beautiful pike shots–that last one is a beast! I have only fished for pike sparingly around Flagstaff, I should probably put in a bit more effort one of these days…

  13. Krai Says:

    Nice to see the Pike in short river all grown up!!! Did you get the smell of that place off you yet?

  14. Kyle Says:

    Haha, that mud especially on the East shore was a mess! Great lake though.

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