Had it been certified, this giant North Dakota pike would have been the new state record.
Lately, northern pike have slowly been becoming a larger and larger target when it comes to trying to catch these toothy critters on the fly. Big pike are often hard to come by and always few and far between. This was not the case for Nathan Lafleur on a recent fly fishing trip to Devil’s Lake, North Dakota. Had this fish been certified before being release, it likely would have become the new state record North Dakota pike.
Lafleur was using a 10 weight with a big streamer casting from shore. He was with his brother Blake, and friend Chad Greening when the big fish hit. After a quick battle he was able to get it to shore, and that’s when they realized just how big it was.
“I knew it was a big fish,” he said in an interview. “I’ve caught a lot of pike that are 20-25 pounds, and I knew it was a big one until I saw her come by shore, and we figured out how big she actually was.”
The tape measure told the whole story.
“We put a tape measure on her, and she was 51½ inches—by far the biggest pike my brother, dad and I had seen on Devils Lake,” Lafleur said.
In a feat of pure sportsmanship, Lafleur didn’t have a moment’s hesitation when he decided what he was going to do with his possible record fish.
“To me, the catch-and-release thing is what’s so important,” Lafleur said. “That fish never could have made 51½ inches if it didn’t get to make 40 and didn’t get to make 43. Throwing those fish back is what I want people to understand and to develop and not exploit the fishery we have here.”
The current North Dakota pike state record, standing since 1968, weighs in at 37 pounds, eight ounces with a 48 inch length. Lefleur’s fish, at 51 and a half inches long and a girth of 22 inches, would have easily put it near 39 pounds according to online calculations.
Awesome fish, especially on the fly.