Pretty as a Pickerel
I fondly remember fly fishing trips with my father as a kid. I remember one trip, I was maybe 5 or 6, we went ice fishing Lake Quinsigamond in central Massachusetts. It was my turn at the tip, and I hooked into a monster. As it turns out, I caught a monster 8 pound pickerel. My dad always gets a good chuckle with this story because yelled out “Dad, I caught an alligator!!!” I guess to a little yute those toothy critters can look intimidating.
It did start with a fascination with the species though. I’d ride my bike all over the place to go fishing with my buddy Pete for all kinds of bass and pickerel. I loved catching pickerel most of all. Big huge ambush strikes, leaps out of the water, and aggressive head shakes.
People chase pike and musky on a fly rod, but seem to overlook the pickerel. While they are smaller than their cousins, you can catch them up to 10 pounds, and you don’t need 10,000 casts to catch just one.
Most bass water also holds pickerel, and you have a good chance to catch either while you’re out. Lily pads, log jams, fallen trees, boulder structure and steep drop offs are all target areas.
I like to use lighter gear and enjoy the action. A 4wt or 5wt is just fine for me. You can use sink tip if you're committed sub-surface. I mostly use a floating line with either a 9' or 12' leader 3X or 4X.
I like to use bright colored bunny leeches, a rabbit strip diver, poppers, and Half & Halfs. I've also had great luck with our cousin it series. I've been catching all species on this streamer from pickerel, trout, bass etc. Anything resembling a baitfish or a frog is good though. We've got a great selection in our Bass and Pike section.
You can catch these babies’ day or night. The smell of the air, the calmness of the water and the POW! I like to go out after work during the summer. Seeing the smash on the water at dusk is just amazing.
Get out there and give it a try, I think you’ll be glad you did.
Tight Lines and Screaming Drags