August 18, 2022
By Fly Fisherman Staff
Ryan Kohler possibly just caught the largest silver pike on record, and what’s more, he spotted it and caught the giant with a fly while the cameras were rolling. If you’re like me, the first question that pops into your mind is “what the heck is a silver pike?”
Well, it looks sort of like a muskellunge, but it isn’t. It’s a northern pike (Esox lucius), but instead of the classic olive/green color with lighter spots, the fish is mostly silver with a slightly darker back, and no spots. It’s not an albino, it’s just an extremely rare genetic variation that is known to occur within some specific populations. It’s similar to how some black bears on the central coast of British Columbia are white, and on Turneffe Atoll on Belize, there are a very few “golden bonefish” that swim alongside their silver siblings.
Kohler caught the silver pike while filming his TV show How to Hunt which is available on cable networks in Canada or globally through the Wild TV app. While the 22-year-old program is a hunting show, they also fish in situations where they can strategically “hunt” the fish.
Based on available information from organizations that track record freshwater fish, Kohler's pike appears to be a world record.
Kohler was fishing with guide Zack Brown on Lac La Marte, the third largest lake in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Together they measured the pike at just over 50 inches. Incredibly, Brown recognized the distinctive fish, and comparing photos afterward confirmed that he had caught the same fish in the same vicinity in August of 2018. At that time, the fish was 48 inches, and a photo of it was published on the cover of Northwest Territories magazine Up Here. After further investigation Brown realized the fish was caught by another guide in July of 2018, making it three times this monster fish was been caught and photographed. It's an incredible testament to the efficacy of catch-and-release fishing and also to the hardy, long-lived nature of northern pike, which can live for up to 30 years.
In the most recent encounter, Kohler was using a Redington Predator 10-weight rod, Behemoth reel, RIO Predator fly line, and a custom leader with a wire bite tippet. He spotted the fish waiting in ambush in a shallow bay and made several casts without a reaction until finally the fish showed just a small fin flicker. Brown backed the boat away, changed flies to a black Lac La Marte Special, and slowly approached the silver fish again. On his next cast, Kohler got a very slow follow all the way to the boat, and the fish ate the fly straight on, just 6 feet from the rod tip. To get a proper hook set, he had to allow the fish to turn before he could apply pressure. You can watch the whole sequence of events at: https://www.wildtvplus.ca/videos/monster-silver-pike.