Steamboat Springs Drew Jenrich was giving his new fly rod a test drive on Thursday morning at Casey's Pond and hoping for a rainbow trout. When he felt a telltale tug on his line, it turned out to be something altogether different.
Jenrich hooked into a 9-pound Northern pike.
"It was the first cast and the fly hadn't been in the water more than two seconds," Jenrich said. "The fish shot out of the water and tried to break me off in the lily pads."
Jenrich consulted his cell phone and noted the time was 11 a.m. He soon realized that he wasn't going to land the fish without a net, so he called a friend, Jesse Junker, to bring a net and a camera.
In the meantime, Jenrich's battle with the fish drew the attention of two Colorado Division of Wildlife officers, who ultimately waded into the pond to help him net the fish.
The pike, which measured 31.5 inches, wasn't landed until 75 minutes after it was hooked. Some fly fishermen specifically seeking pike use wire leaders on their line to guard against the sharp teeth of the fish. Jenrich was using a relatively fine tippet, appropriate for casting nymph patterns to moderately sized trout.
The fly pattern that caught the attention of the pike was a copper head/brown wooly bugger.
Jenrich said he had purchased his new fly rod and reel from Straightline Outdoor Sports two days earlier. He tried fishing at Hahn's Peak Lake, but the trees that grow down to the shoreline there restricted his back cast. He went to Casey's Pond to get the wrinkles out of his cast.
"I'd never caught a fish there before," Jenrich said.
The seven-year resident of Steamboat added that the wildlife officers collected a bone from behind the jaw of the fish to be used to determine its age and growth rate. The DOW has been working to reduce the number of pike in the upper Yampa River drainage. It manages Casey's Pond for put-and-take family fishing and stocks the pond with catchable rainbows during the summer.
A pike the size of Jenrich's catch would typically prey on small trout.
To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org