Giant Pike Stories: Aikens Lake Legends
May. 08, 2016
Aikens Lake will always be known for its excellent walleye fishing, but in the past few years our guests have enjoyed some of the best trophy pike fishing we’ve ever recorded. Last year produced 26 Master Angler pike, with the largest being a 46-inch beauty caught by Terry Daniels (his son, Tyler, caught a 45-incher the day before).
In eager anticipation of opening day just weeks away, we sat down with Head Guide Jesse Lariviere and asked him to share a couple of his favorite Aikens Lake giant pike stories. Believe it or not, his top two stories involve guests separated in age by nearly 80 years.
The biggest pike Jesse ever guided was a 46-inch hog caught in 2011 by Robert “Doc” Farber, an Aikens legend who was in his late 80s at the time.
“Doc is an amazing guy,” said Pit. “He’s also a heck of a fisherman. He’s caught a lot of big pike up here and Jesse loves fishing with him.”
The memory of the 46-inch pike is vivid for Jesse.
“It was a windy day and we had just finished casting Jointed X-Raps along a shoreline, but I was uncertain about the bay so I ended up trolling out just to be safe.”
When they were about halfway through the bay, a pike smoked Doc’s lure so hard and unexpectedly he thought Jesse was pulling a prank.
“He said, ‘Why are you pulling my line?’” Jesse recalled. “I said, ‘Doc, this isn’t a time for jokes, you have a hog on right now.’ We saw it from about 30 feet out and couldn’t believe how long it was.”
Once it got to the surface, the fish came in surprisingly easy and the fish of a lifetime was landed.
“We drifted in Moosehead Bay afterward for about 45 minutes, just talking about the fish,” Jesse said. “You don’t need to do anything after a fish like that. You’re just content. It’s weird, but I still remember everything about that day.”
The day left an impression on Doc, as well. Now in his early 90s, he returns to Aikens each summer and fishes with Jesse. Last year, Doc caught a 39-inch pike and his son caught a 38-inch pike.
The hero of Jesse’s other favorite pike story is young Tate Beckstead. The school boy from Alliston, Ontario, came to Aikens last summer on a three-generation trip with his father and grandfather. One evening after dinner Jesse took Tate and his grandpa out fishing.
“We were at Little Sister (a hot spot on the lake), and as I was jigging a cisco a big mark came up,” Jesse said. “I knew it was a big pike. It nails the cisco, so I open my bail and give it some line and casually say to Tate, ‘Reel up.’ We had just go to the spot so Tate asks me why he should reel in, so I told him I had a good fish for him to take.”
Tate was excited, but as a sharp young angler he noticed Jesse’s reel was on the opposite-hand side of what he’s used to, so he paused to ask Jesse about that.
“I said, ‘Sorry buddy, you’re going to have to do the best you can with it.’” Jesse recalled. “So he sets the hook like he’s setting it into a brick wall. The pike takes off on a 30-40 foot run. The little guy put his leg on the gunwale to hold himself up. He fought it like a champ.”
Indeed, young Tate was in a prize fight with the heaviest pike Jesse has seen in seven years of guiding. The battle ensued for five minutes, with tension rising and Tate’s grandpa as excited as anyone in the boat. Eventually the 44.5-inch pike popped up right beside the boat and Jesse netted it to immediate, unbridled celebration by all.
“It was unreal,” Jesse said. “His grandpa took a quick picture of me holding it with Tate and then we put it back in the water to get ready to release it.”
“Can I please take a picture of it with me and my grandpa?” Tate asked. Jesse contemplated the weight of the fish while Tate talked him into it by adding, “I have to hold it.”
Jesse realized the significance of the moment so they had Tate sit down while Jesse carefully laid the pike across his lap. They released the fish in perfect health and continued their celebration.
“I picked him up like he’s my own kid and started shaking him like crazy,” Jesse said. “His grandpa was so excited for him it was unreal, and you couldn’t wipe the smile off Tate’s face.”