When you spend time outdoors you never know what you'll encounter next. Sure, we usually have a pretty good idea, but there is always something that seems to pop up and command attention. Those unscheduled moments are great.
I had one of those moments while fishing at Lake Darling one morning this past week. The lake was mirror calm at 8 a.m. I had just made a move of a mile or so and had shut the outboard off so I could listen to the quiet. I was surprised to hear the voices of other fishermen because I thought I had that portion of the lake all to myself. Really, I did. The voices were coming from a boat that was far enough away from me that it was a mere speck on the water. Acoustics at such times are incredible.
While I was listening to their conversation and watching my sonar unit, I heard a splash which came from behind the boat. The dogs had moved to the back to see what was happening. I could see the circular ripples in the water where the splash originated. My first thought was that it must have been made by a smallmouth bass.
As a test, I grabbed a fishing rod that had an X-Rap tied on it. At the same time I glanced over the side of the boat and noticed several crawfish crawling on the bottom. I was in seven feet of clear water. My cast landed directly on target. I let the X-Rap sit a moment and then began cranking it in, mixing in an occasional pause.
I could see the lure suspended in the water about a boat length away when I decided to reel it all the way in. That's when I saw an almost white flash behind the X-Rap. It was following my lure but it was crossways in the water, looking somewhat like the head of a hammerhead shark. It was as if I was dragging something in but there was no extra weight on the line. Weird!
When it got closer to the boat I got a proper identification. The "hammerhead" was a small northern pike, maybe a foot long, secured tightly in the jaws of a larger pike that was following my X-Rap. The live pike wasn't very big, maybe twice the size of the pike he had locked in his mouth. Even with a mouthful that pike was aggressive enough to follow my lure. He had a problem though, he wasn't about to part with the fish he already had clamped tightly in his jaws.
The pike turned away just a couple of feet from the boat and swam only a short distance before suspending near the bottom in about six feet of water. I could still see the dead pike in his mouth. A second cast resulted in another follow. This time the pike actually bumped the X-Rap while still carrying his earlier catch!
I caught fish that morning, including a couple of pretty good ones, but it is the pike with the mouthful chasing my lure that will be forever remembered. I wonder what my next unexpected encounter will be.