Pike pounding on Hayden Lake is a spring family tradition

by RALPH BARTHOLDT
Hagadone News Network | May 19, 2020 1:00 AM

Welcome to the family.

The pike fishing family, that is.

McKinley and Isabelle Thomson of Hayden joined their parents’ pike-sacking tradition last Friday with a first.

Each of them caught their first pike by hanging a herring on a hook over weed beds in about 13 feet of water in Hayden Lake’s northern bays.

McKinely’s pike weighed in at 14 pounds and measured 35 inches. Her sister Isabel’s was a 17-pound, 38-inch fish.

“They were screaming and hollering,” Kurt Thomson, their dad, said. “They were ecstatic.”

The girls’ parents, Kurt and Valentina, have been pike anglers for several years. Kurt’s biggest is a 26-pound Hayden pike and his wife’s personal best is a 20-pounder. The fish were caught about five years ago and launched the pike fishing tradition that corralled the younger generation, ages 11 and 6 years old.

Thomson, who grew up fishing on Hayden Lake, starting as a child catching crappies and bluegills, before moving on to bass. He didn’t target pike until about 2010.

He hooked a sizable fish and, using online videos, learned how to fillet out the plethora of small bones — the Y bones incite many anglers to shun northern pike — his pike passion flourished like an aquatic weed bed in July.

“They are one of the best tasting fish,” he said.

When Thomson isn’t chasing pike, he chases kokanee, he said. Earlier this spring he caught a 16-inch kokanee in Hayden Lake.

But the Thomsons usually reserve spring for pike fishing, using smelt or herring under a bobber before the weeds grow up, choke out the bays and make angling more difficult.

“Right now the fish are really sluggish,” he said. So, they are less prone to chase moving lures.

To entice big pike, he resorts to a slip bobber, a steel leader and 12-pound test line, suspending the bait over the still-stunted, submerged weeds.

The best time to catch pike is before 11 a.m. and again in the evening, Thomson said, but he and his crew didn’t get on the water until around noon and stayed out for four hours.

Isabelle’s fish wrapped the line around a submerged log and had to be gingerly extracted from the jumble.

“Then it tried going underneath the anchor line, but after fighting it for about 10 minutes we got it in,” Thomson said.

The family had several more bites, but only hooked and landed one other pike — a 4-pounder.

“When we started filleting out McKinley’s pike there was a 7-inch, whole crappie inside the belly,” Thomson said.

It’s an indicator that pike are feeding on spawning panfish, which hang close to structure in shallower water.

“We filleted them up … and had fresh fish tacos,” Thomson said. “It was a great day.”