The goal was to get into pike at Snafu Lake.
A group of us kayaked from the campground, over the first beaver dam and into some prime pike country. It was a characteristic Snafu-like setting with a series of little islands, gently rolling hills, plenty of trees, willows and shrubs and many, many weed beds.
My fish-senses were tingling as we paddled along a transition point where it dropped from a clear four feet in depth to a dark, deep abyss. If I were a predatory pike, I would be sitting still on that shelf waiting for a little whitefish, grayling or pike minnows to pass through.
My kayak was rigged with a fly rod on a sinking line and a back-up meaty spincaster with a top-water prop. I chose to chuck a large orange, sinking bunny fly toward shore and strip it from the shallows down to the depths.
My presentation was not perfect, but Pike are forgiving, preferring inconsistency like that of the fleeing baitfish.
As the retrieve was on its return swing, I felt a firm weight and set the hook. It was a toothy 35-inch pike, ticked off and ready to give me a run. After a little back and forth, he settled calmly into my net for a quick, yet cautious release.
Catching pike on drop-offs or shelves is a traditional way of working a lake. Now that I had caught pike, and not wanting to conform, I headed straight for the junkyard. The junkyard is any piece of water less than two to three feet in depth, completely surrounded by weeds.
After a short paddle, I approached a prime, pike junkyard. It was a small, weedy opening, naturally overlooked by the other anglers in our party. I approached it with stealth, not wanting to spook fish hanging along the fringes. The sun was now full, raising the water temperature and making this shallow junkyard perfect for large, lounging pike.
With my polarized glasses, I could already see pike sitting like logs within casting distance. I picked a small junkyard directly ahead of me where I thought there was enough water to hold pike and enough space to retrieve my lure without getting hung up.
My first cast into this little puddle of weeds resulted in an aggressive, out-of-nowhere lunge at my poor, little, top-water prop.
With hawk eyes, Jedi concentration and the adrenaline of a rodeo rider, I quickly cast again and again to where he last struck. My junkyard friend had finished his siesta to most likely return to his real feeding ground, the deep-water shelf.
Varying my approach from the traditional drop-off shelves to the junkyard shallows added a bit of variety to Snafu Lake. While it’s productive to sit on the shelf and pull pike out of the dark, it’s often more fun to try something different and catch them in the far corners of the lake with a completely opposite presentation.
If you would like to share your fishing story, or hear more about this one, visit Dennis Zimmermann’s Yukon fishing blog at www.fishonyukon.com.
PHOTO: STEVE HAHN