Airborne Pickerel! - Fly Fishing Forum
Warmwater flyfishing Bass, pike and even muskies in your backyard

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Old 07-01-2004, 09:34 PM
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Cool Airborne Pickerel!

The severe thunderstorms never materialized in my area, so after I got out of work I put the boat on a local pond to try some bass buggin'. Didn't catch any bass (unless you count rock bass) but had some incredible hits from pickerel while working the bug at a fast, steady pace. Three or four of them went airborne on the initial strike, and if they missed the bug they charged right back and hit again. It was awesome to watch even if I didn't hook the fish! Successful flies for the evening were the deer hair bug with hair legs that Pete tied for the deer hair swap, and the prototype of the deer hair & foam frog that I tied for the swap. It's mangled but still catches fish!

Q
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Old 07-01-2004, 10:34 PM
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Talking

Nothings quite like seeing pikes summersault after tops.
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Old 07-02-2004, 08:53 AM
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Neat report Q!

I guess the fact that they had trouble hitting the topwaters on a steady retrieve underscores their relatively poor eyesight.
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Old 07-02-2004, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dble Haul
Neat report Q!

I guess the fact that they had trouble hitting the topwaters on a steady retrieve underscores their relatively poor eyesight.
I guess it was more of a rapid stop & go retrieve, but done at a steady rate without any pause between strips. I think poor timing is as much of a factor as poor eyesight: they seem to hit where the fly was rather than trying to intercept the fly. Whatever the reason, it's ok with me if they miss because that way they won't steal my flies and I don't have to unhook them!

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Old 07-14-2004, 09:58 AM
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Pickerel are by far my favorite target with any sort of tackle. The lakes I grew up on were loaded with fish in the 18-36" range with a few larger ones mixed in here and there (no fish story), and I had a blast fishing for them every chance I got. I never had any indication that their eyesight wasn't sharp, so I'm wondering where or why that information regarding pickerel exists. I know that their eyesight, as with many other predatory species, is predisposed to hunting in "low-light" conditions, though I can't remember catching a significantly larger number of them around dawn and dusk as I did in the mid- to late-afternoon (mid-morning to early-afternoon was typically slow, as I recall, which is when I'd head in to the dock for some lunch and repeats of Hogan's Heroes on the tube). At times, they'd charge the lure or fly from as much as 30-yds away, sometimes smashing it, sometimes following a couple of inches behind it for some distance before hitting it, but they never seemed to have a problem hitting accurately. One thing that might hinder their vision when following a topwater at the surface over a steady retrieve would be seeing through the lens of water created as they cruise literally right at the surface; this would seem to distort their vision.
I must agree, seeing these fish smash a lure at the surface is incredible. The only other fish that rivals this excitement, for my money, is a bluefish.
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Old 07-14-2004, 10:17 AM
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Chris, you make some very good points regarding the vision of pickeral. Let me give you some background on why I have an opinion that their eyesight is poor.

First, it has in fact been documented. Unfortunately, I don't remember where or when, and some of this info may be in my brain from as far back as my readings in childhood. Of course that was many years ago, and some more info may have surfaced since.

Second, I have experienced first hand that erratic retrieves don't produce as well as those with a steady cadence. This is true of both pickeral and pike. The steady cadence gives them something to home in on with their other senses, and the final deal-closer is the sighting of the fly. Could this be all coincedence? Perhaps, but it's happened far too often for me to think so.

Third, no members of the pike family are nocturnal feeders. It has been theorized that this is due to their vision, and I really don't see any reason to argue with this. It's quite contrarian to think that such toothy predators wouldn't hunt under the cover of darkness, but it's true. Maybe they would be able to find stationary bait, but moving flies and lures are pretty useless.

And lastly, since they are such close relatives to the pike, perhaps they've been given an unfair knock. Maybe their vision isn't quite as poor as the pike (and poor vision in pike is VERY well documented), but they certainly aren't eagle-eyed either.

Those are my reasons, and of course your mileage may vary.
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Old 07-14-2004, 11:21 AM
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Mark,
Good points. I can recall only two instances when I fished for pickerel after it was totally dark, and can vividly remember the sound of a fish striking my Zara Spook, but no hook-up. BTW, when I said "low-light" in my last post, I meant dawn and dusk, and I believe that these are the times when the pickerel's vision is most acute.

I remember that the majority of fish I hooked and landed were a result of a fish coming out of an ambush area and nailing the lure or fly as it was being steadily retrieved. I should also say that I rarely retrieved a bait steadily from landing to rod tip without an erratic rhythm (meaning a twitch or pause in the retrieve every 8-10 seconds or so), and that many of the strikes came when the bait had paused and/or was falling through the water column. The remaining fish hit stationary baits that were twitched from time to time but were otherwise motionless. As you say, experiences will differ. I learned the retrieve tactic from my dad who was raised in Michigan and spent a lot of time fishing in Muskegon for pike. The fact that I caught a lot of fish on a somewhat erratic retrieve is just a result of my having used that tactic exclusively for years.

Man, all of this pike and pickerel talk is getting me pumped for a possible second pike clave!
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Old 07-14-2004, 11:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfisha1
BTW, when I said "low-light" in my last post, I meant dawn and dusk, and I believe that these are the times when the pickerel's vision is most acute.
I agree, and this probably has to do with the contrasting light levels at those times of day.
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