Hooked on pike - Coeur d'Alene Press: Outdoors

Hooked on pike

Fishing club gears up for season opener at Hayden Lake

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Posted: Thursday, April 8, 2010 12:00 am

Bob Volz knows where he'll be this Saturday:

On Hayden Lake fishing for pike. It's tournament time.

"Oh yeah, I'll be there," he says.

The Spirit Lake man knows pike. He has been going after them in North Idaho since sportsmen first realized pike were in the chain lake system back in the mid-80s.

"There was nobody around in this area who knew how to fish for pike," he said. "I decided to go ahead and go work swing shift at my job, then when I'd get home I'd get the boat and go out and fish. I was on the water, every day, seven days a week on Coeur d'Alene until I learned how to catch them. Once I figured out how to catch them, I had to figure out how to catch the bigger ones."

And he has done that perhaps better than anyone in the Idaho Panhandle.

In the past two decades, Volz had caught thousands of pike - and released a great number of those, too. He prefers to let them go for a young angler to hook on another day. He'll be happy, along with other members of the North Idaho Pike Association, to share his secrets of pulling pike from lakes.

"It's quite a process if you've got nobody to show you. But that's the good thing about our club members," Volz said. "We're real good about helping people who want to learn how to fish for them."

One thing to know up front. Pike put up a fierce fight, so get used to tired, aching arms.

"It's a thrill. These fish are very powerful," he said. "When you get one over 10 pounds, you get one on, you don't just bring them in."

One 23-pounder he landed took more than 20 minutes to net.

"It was pulling the boat all around," he said.

The North Idaho Pike Association's purpose is "to gain new friends at a competitive level while bringing people together who have a passion for pike fishing."

The 2010 pike tournament fishing season kicks off Saturday at Hayden Lake. About 14 teams of two persons per boat are expected for the tourney that may see some challenging weather conditions of wind and rain.

"It's going to be tough," Volz said. "This weekend, I figure you catch one you'll be in the money."

Members fish about 10 tournaments a year in Idaho, Washington and Montana. Basic rules include two people per team; one pole per person; must have rubber nets and must have a state fishing license.

Volz has patches on his coat as proof of just a few of the tournaments he has won. There's one each for the North Idaho Pike Association overall champion in 2004 and 2005. There's one for the NIPA Hayden Pike Tournament in 2006.

He hopes to collect another title this week. And it's not just about winning. It's personal.

"My pet peeve is just to beat Jeff Smith. He owns Fins and Feathers. He and I are good friends. I don't care about winning the tournament," Volz said with a laugh. "I just want to beat him."

Pike have long been his favorite fish.

"When you're fishing for pike you'd be amazed how many big bass you catch. I mean big bass. We're talking 8, 9-pound bass," he said.

"Pike are so unpredictable; they're the only fish I know of that you can't predict when they're going to bite like you can a bass or a trout or perch," Volz said.

He displays a small stack of pictures of members at different tournaments. There's one in Trout Creek, Mont., at the Noxon Reservoir. Another of a fish being pulled from the water near Cougar Bay, more anglers at Hayden Lake and Lake Coeur d'Alene. There's a shot of Volz holding up two pike, one 18 pounds and one 13, that landed him the title at a tournament at the Noxon Reservoir.

"These are all pretty good fish. We do get quite a few."

Volz, originally from Abilene, Texas, lives in the Spirit Lake area, where he owns 40 acres and built his log cabin out of red fir.

He has been president of the NIPA for about five years.

"I'm a very avid hunter and fisherman," he said. "That's my life."

He even designed his own 18-foot Procraft boat that has taken him on the region's water in pursuit of pike. His biggest was a 28 pounder he reeled in at Twin Lakes.

Volz loves the action that comes with pike.

"You'd be amazed how many fish we've caught in the 10-15 pound bracket, another fish will come in and smash the side of that pike while you're fighting it. It's amazing," he said.

This time of the year, he recommends throwing something bigger than normal to hook a pike.

"Whatever you put out there now, you want to really move it slow. Very slow. And you want something that will show a long ways. Bright, silver, white, because you've got murky water."

If you're wearing polarized glasses, it helps so you can see the fish coming up. When that happens, start twitching the lure.

"It will spark their instinct to strike that lure," he said.

Most North Idaho lakes have pike patrolling them, more than anglers might suspect.

"In some lakes, the pike will take hold," Volz said. "In others they don't seem to reproduce."

Volz said there is no limit on pike in Idaho, something he would like to see changed, but nothing too restrictive.

"This area here holds the potential for world record northern pike, over Canada, even. It's got the right water and the right situation for it."


The North Idaho Pike Association fishing club is looking for members and the season opener tournament is Saturday on Hayden Lake. There is still time to register. The nonprofit club has been around for nine years. Information: www.northidahopikeassn.com or Bob Volz, president, (208) 651-4547

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  • goldfever posted at 12:12 am on Tue, Jan 11, 2011.

    goldfever Posts: 3

    my email is cwood4ever@hotmail.com if anyone wants to talk about this issue. I am so pissed off over these pike. I could go on for hours.

  • goldfever posted at 12:10 am on Tue, Jan 11, 2011.

    goldfever Posts: 3

    I know this is a way late post but I just found this. I can give an expert opinion on this issues because I GREW up on Hayden Lake during my youth and saw first hand off my parents dock what the pike did to this lake. esox lucius hasn't got a clue on what hes talking about. First of all comparing trout or bass to a pike is like comparing a salmon to a shark. But to tell my opinion I will have to tell you a story. My family moved to Hayden Lake in 1994 and I remember as a child fishing off the dock and seeing no less than 50-100 perch, crappie, sun fish etc. I could put my hook with no bait and catch fish almost every time. It was so fun, it made my childhood awesome. I remember going out on the dock at sun down and seeing all the fish jumping up catching bugs on waters that was still like glass. Anyways a few years later I would say 97 maybe 98 I caught this weird looking fish. I showed it to my dad and I found out what a pike was that day. I was excited until I realized that after a few years all those fish I used to see off my dock disappeared. So by the time I moved out in 2001 on my own I couldn't see any fish off my dock. Just the other day my dad sent me an email, his neighbor just caught a huge pike off their dock. This Pike was enormous so I ask you this. WHAT KIND OF FISH EAT PIKE? From my own experience on this lake it seems like the only enemy a pike has is a human. I have a hatred for PIke and a hatred who ever put Pike into this lake. I was told that someone put them in illegally. But it doesn't even matter if it be the government or a random fool. They hurt my childhood and I am sure many other who grew up on this lake. I have kids of my own now and when I take them to go see grandpa and grandma and teach them how to fish they wont get to fish like i got to. NOPE because of the pike. I swear to God if I ever become rich I will move back to Hayden Lake and if I have to get into government I will but I'm gonna make sure pike are destroyed from Hayden Lake. They have no business in a small lake such as that one. Maybe esoc should stay in Canada where his government like to control everything. Leave Hayden lake alone. I declared war on the PIKE years ago and I will conquer. Idaho Ranger your glorious, will you fight with me?

  • esox lucius posted at 5:36 pm on Wed, Apr 21, 2010.

    esox lucius Posts: 1

    Idaho Roper,
    Under what constitutional law does is dictate what species of fish can be managed by the IDF&G? By your comment you are proposal that all bass, crappie, bluegill, perch, walleye, or any other species that is not a trout (except for brooke trout and lake trout) salmon or sturgeon be removed from all Idaho waters. And by managed do you mean by having no regulations on them at all because there are no regulations when in comes to pike. That pretty much tells me there is no management on the pike at all. Can I ask you this, how many pike lakes are there in the state of Idaho as to the trout lakes in the state of Idaho? Last time I checked, I didn't know a lake that didn't have stocker rainbow trout in it. I would say the odds are in your favor as far as the amount of lakes that have your trout in them. I personally would like to see more pike lakes in the state. I would also like to see a protected slot on them to protect the trophies. Keep all the fish below the protected slot you want, only 1 over the protected slot. If the anglers can hold up to their end of the deal, pike and trout can coexist without any problems. they have for thousands of years in Canadian waters.

  • Idaho Roper posted at 2:33 pm on Mon, Apr 19, 2010.

    Idaho Roper Posts: 117

    Yes, Pike. Yet another non native species invading our ecosystem, destroying native habitat and fish populations. Now being managed as a game species by IDF&G in violation of our state constitution.

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