Pike, bloody fingers and fishing derbies

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My first ice fishing trip this winter was early last week on Smith Lake, near Kila.

There were only two trucks in the parking lot when we arrived, so, on our way to our “hotspot,” we checked old holes looking for evidence of fishing success, including blood on the ice.

At such times, I always quote my late friend and former USFS District Ranger Chuck Brooks, who more than once proclaimed, “That’s the blood of a BIG fish!”

I never did figure out Chuck’s criteria, but, after my last trip, I can report that not all the blood on the ice on Smith Lake comes from big fish.

Veteran Flathead Valley hardwater anglers know Smith Lake is home to a very high population of northern pike. A few lunkers. But most less than 3 pounds, providing a nuisance for serious perch fishermen.

Such was the case last week when my thumb inadvertently slipped into a pike’s mouth when I was trying to remove the hook.

The puncture was deep and scraped sideways and wouldn’t stop bleeding until I pinched it closed against my index finger.

When I released compression, it continued to bleed profusely, dripping. I ran my hand through the snow and held snow in my hand and all I accomplished was to put more blood on the snow!

“Ah, blood of an old fisherman!” Luckily I found some Band-Aids in my truck. Speaking of Smith Lake, the 47th Annual Kalispell Sunriser Lions Fishing Derby is Saturday, Dec. 30 from 7 a.m.-1 p.m. Sponsored by Sportsman & Ski Haus, Flathead Wildlife Inc, and Walleyes Unlimited, this family-oriented outdoor activity offers a variety of caught fish prizes and door prizes, loaner gear and even some free fishing outfits for kids.

Joe Moody and Paul Snyder are among Columbia Falls anglers who have walked away with the big perch award.

Entry is $7 adult. $3 kid. $12 family. Proceeds fund Sunriser Lions Club projects.

The event has drawn over 500 people in recent years so unless you arrive very early, be prepared to park on the county road and walk to the Sunriser check-in trailer.

Don’t forget the Band-Aids!

Jerry Smalley’s Fishful Thinking column appears weekly in the Hungry Horse News.

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