Since I was a young boy I have had a love of catching big northern pike. Now as an adult, I try to find new and exciting waters to catch them. Recently I had the pleasure of fishing on a lake system that not only boasted of big pike and walleye -- but also large brook trout as well. The lake is Esnagi Lake and the lodge I stayed at is Lodge Eighty Eight. David MacLachlan and his family have been in the business since 1959 and this location is one of their best.
The pike I caught averaged 30 to 35 inches with the odd fish in the 40- to 45-inch size. These are heavy 20- to 30-pound fish, which are exceptionally aggressive. Though I was fly fishing, I was told that many anglers use conventional tackle for topwater, using popular surface lures to catch these leviathans. The strikes are always vicious. For anglers, the sight of a massive pike crushing their lure on the surface is the ultimate experience. In addition, on smaller nearby lakes they have healthy populations of brook trout, which weigh up to 5 pounds. Whether with a dry fly or a spinner, the brookies were very hard-hitting, especially in the early morning and later afternoon/evening.
Lodge Eighty Eight is an upscale facility that caters to all budgets. Whether you want the full American Plan of meals, Housekeeping and boat/motor or just wish to rent a cabin and boat/motor, they can accommodate you. The food was superlative as they have a full-time chef on staff. For evening recreation they have a full pool table, reading area, WiFi capability and HD television with satellite reception so you don't have to miss that critical game!
I was really impressed with the staff at Lodge Eighty Eight who were very helpful in getting us onto fish. The nice thing about Esnagi lake, it seemed virtually everywhere we fished -- we found lots of walleye and pike. Best of all, they were all of the good sizes thanks to their catch and release program. Lodge Eighty Eight can be accessed by floatplane or train!
Watch the clip for techniques, equipment and flies for catching big Pike on this episode of The New Fly Fisher: