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Idaho Pike Surprises Bighorn River Trout Angler

Billings Gazette

Nathan Diesel was after big trout, but landed an unexpected catch. A trophy northern pike inhaled his fly instead.

Diesel was using a five-inch articulated fly, but he hadn’t raised a trout all day. His fishing partner, Mike DuFresne, had landed only two.

They had worked the Bighorn River all morning when they pulled their drift boat onto Crow Beach. Diesel continued to cast the big fly, when suddenly, a shadow lurked behind it. He was almost out of line, having stripped in all but a few feet. He wiggled the rod tip to give the fly some action. That’s when the big pike hit.

That section of the Bighorn is cold and clear, so it’s more suited to trout than pike. Diesel has experience with big browns. Given the location and the size of the beast, he naturally assumed it was another big brown. Diesel guessed it weighed over 10 pounds and yelled for DuFresne to bring the net.

He knew he was wrong when the big fish rolled.

Diesel’s 12-pound test tippet held up to the toothy predator, and DuFresne got enough of the beast in the net to haul it up on shore. Pictures were in order to prove the odd catch was legit and came out of the Bighorn.

However, catch and release wasn’t in the cards for this fish. Diesel doesn’t eat fish, but DuFresne filleted and fried it up.

“We had to cull her from the herd,” DuFresne said. “It was a female. It surprised me as fat as she was that her belly was completely empty, but jam-packed with close to three pounds of eggs alone.”

The odds were against this fish being in the Bighorn. It’s interesting to wonder how many other anglers may have had it strike and break off their fly. Diesel defied the odds and landed her.

“It was a slow day,” he said. “But one fish can sure make a day.”

It was an odd catch for the Bighorn River, but one he won’t forget.

Idaho Pike Surprises Bighorn River Trout Angler