Catching Giant Northerns

Catching Giant Northerns

Last year around this time I was on the hunt of a lifetime.  Chasing the Barren Ground Caribou in the northern most reaches of Northern Manitoba was a dream that finally came true. After filling my limit of two boo (that is what the locals call them) it was time to go fishing.  The weather had been miserable with low overcast condition and mist.  Plus in was just plain cold with all that dampness.

I could not believe it.  I was looking at patches of blue sky on my 5th day on the tundra.  It was a beautiful sight to see. No mist, no fog and a light breeze out of the south.  It would be a warm day.  After harvesting my second Caribou, I took the next day off and just hung out at the lodge with a couple of the other hunters who had also limited out.  This is what is known as a bull slinging session.


With a high pressure and beautiful weather we should be able to hammer some big northern pike and lake trout.  There were two hunters from Ontario that had limited early and had spent the balance of their time fishing for lake trout.  Commonwealth Lake also held Arctic Greyling.   I hoped to smack into a few of them.  We tried, but it was not to be.


We worked the bays as the fish had been caught previously in the shallows.  The lake trout spawn in the fall and we worked hard in the shallows, but only one lake trout was caught by a guide that came along with my guide and myself.

This was a nice size laker, but unfortunately it was the only one caught.  It was estimated to be around five pounds.



If you look at the sky behind the guide you can see it clouded up again.  We were concerned there was a change coming, but it broke into scattered to broken clouds with a lot of sunshine pouring through.


We ran into two of the fishermen from our lodge and they were not catching any trout either.



After about two hours, I had not caught one fish nor had one hit.  It was time to change lures.  I had been fishing with a red and white spoon and had switched to a Five of Diamonds.  Still nothing, and did not even have a hit.  This was not the first time in my life this had happened.  Switching to a Len Thompson spoon that had to be 30 years old, I started smacking one right after another.  The spoon was dark green with black diamonds like the five of diamonds spoon.  We could only keep northern under 30 inches. Since it was fresh fish for dinner, it did not take long to have all the lodge could eat for an evening meal.

Typical eating size northern.  There was no trouble catching this size, once they started hitting.


Still, small fish are fun, but I have never caught giant northern pike, and here I am in northern Manitoba where they live.  That thought soon would be gone as a giant pike took hold of the spoon.  Standing there, I just held on as he went where and when he wanted to go.  Peeling out line, he circled the boat more than once and then would make a run.  Reeling him back to the boat,  I could tell he was beginning to tire.  Finally, after getting him up close to the side of the boat, he looked like a log.  The guide reached to grab him along the back of the neck.  He did not go for that at all, spun back 180 degrees and cut the line.  He was gone, but did I ever have a good time!  I shed a tear for about 3 seconds after losing one of my favorite lures, but there was still a lot of fishing and catching to do.  We had just really got started.

They started getting bigger and bigger.


Since the big boy bit on a green spoon with black diamonds, I grabbed a chartreuse spoon with black markings horizontally down the side and started back casting into the shallows.  All heck broke loose and we were all picking up really big northern pike that had to be thrown back.


Blue Fox Strobe Spoon Kit

The chartreuse with the black strips is the killer. Click on the link or the pic to buy from Bass Pro.



We caught northern pike routinely this size and bigger and threw them all back.



Finally, the killer lure was lost and all three of us in the boat had caught lots and lots of fish that were mostly thrown back.

This was dinner.


It can't get much better than this.

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck. Hank.

More Stories By Hank Huntington

Hank Huntington, Esq., is a native of southwest Iowa, healthcare professional, entrepreneur, accomplished pilot, hunting and fishing enthusiast, connoisseur, father and husband. He developed this web site for people to share their fun and excitement about the great outdoors. The best part of this hobby is, after a successful hunting or fishing trip, you are able to dine on fresh game or fish, after all, “ How do you eat a golf ball?” asks Hank. Hanks father and grandfather were both avid outdoorsmen so Hank learned his hunting and fishing skills from them and has passed the tradition down to the fourth generation. Plus the love of the outdoors, and a craving for exquisite dinning, would round out the package.

As a small boy, he fished a local oxbow lake formed by the Missouri River. The lake is primarily old river bottom mud, is not real clear, and has a lot of vegetation. The southeast corner holds a huge lily pad bed, and it was there Hank learned to drag through the water and across the tops of the pads, a Johnson Silver Minnow, with a pork rind attached. This was the place for big mouth bass, and there were lots of them, and young Hank loved to catch them.

At age of 12 Hank started going with his Dad hunting, and by age 14 he was an accomplished shooter with a 12-gauge pump. Shortly after that he was given his first shotgun a Winchester Model 12 pump; he still has it today. It looks like almost new, but the gun is never to be hunted again. Duck hunting in the late 50’s had little pressure after the first two weeks of the season, and when the north wind blew and it got really damp and cold, the big Canada Mallards came.

After graduation from high school, Hank attended Midland College in Fremont, Nebraska. There he met a fellow outdoorsman, and their friendship developed in the fields and streams of central Nebraska.

Hank had little time for hunting and fishing while attending professional school at Creighton University. After graduation he married his college sweetheart and they settled down to career, family, and as often as possible, hunting and fishing.

Hank and his family frequently flew their plane north to Canada to the legendary Canadian fly in lodges to fish for Northern and Walleye. Here he taught his son all the things his father had taught him about fishing. Most of the time the two went alone to the north woods, but when camping was not involved, his wife Pam went along. She always enjoys the fact that she has caught a bigger Northern Pike than Hank, and he has been fishing for 60 years. Today along the Missouri River valley, the deer population increased to the point that in many areas they are a nuisance. The duck, goose, and turkey has also population have also soared.

Area lakes have been well stocked. Many even have a walleye stocking program that makes outstanding fishing. Several are within easy driving distance of Hank’s lodge-like lakeside home. All packaged together is great dining. By the way, Hank harvests only what he will share at a table with family or friends.

Hank says, “Whenever I am on a lake, in the woods, or in the blind, I am always reminded of God’s great bounty and His constant presence. And whether in the great outdoors or at home with my wife, I strive to be a good steward of nature and all that God has given us.”

Good hunting! Good fishing! Good day!

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