Westland Camping Fishing Stories: Harsens Island Big Pike Hunt

33" Pike, caught on a 15' Ocean Kayak Prowler

33" Pike, caught on a 15' Ocean Kayak Prowler

I headed out to Harsens Island for some pike fishing this past April,with about 35 of my closest kayak fishing buddies for a multi-day fishing tournament.

Harsens Island is a perfect location for pike due to lots of shallow weeds for spawning, and dramatic drop offs for hunting pike.  It was a little early for spawning this year, so we trolled from our kayaks over 15 foot depths.  Most people had success with rapala  size 11, in fire tiger, but most of the fish I caught were on X-raps, size 14, in hothead or glass ghost.  I felt that size 14 might be too big, but hey, go big or go home right?  Caught lots of hammer handles (23-29 inch pike) on that size, so I kept with it for the first two days.

Saturday was the big fishing tournament, and that’s when I broke out my secret weapon, the River2sea V-joint, a fantastic jointed lure with excellent color choices. With $100 for the first place fish, plus bragging rights, I thought I might use something that the pike haven’t seen yet.  We hit the water at about 9:00 Saturday morning, and it started out slow.  I cruised up the middle channel, without so much as a nibble for about an hour.  So I decided to change tactics a bit.

One river mouth in particular had been producing good sized pike, so I beached the kayak, and started casting from knee deep water to the drop off at the mouth.  Still nothing, except very cold feet.  That’s when I decided that today’s biggest fish probably wouldn’t be very big at all.  I thought that I would have a good chance of winning if I caught any fish.  So back into the kayak to troll a bit more, and cover as many inlet mouths as I could. I also switched out the running depth of the lures from 5 or 6 feet, to 3 foot, and kept the kayak tighter to shore, in about 8 or 10 feet of depth.

As it turned out, that was the winning strategy.  I hooked into a 33” pike, and she dragged me into some shallows, managed to rap the second line I had out around the kayak.  After I landed her, I had to get out of the kayak and unravel the mess she had made during the battle.  After a couple of photo ops, I headed back to base camp to break the bad news to everyone.  It turned out up until I showed up with 5 hours to go in the tournament, the largest was 29”.  The angler who had that fish gave me a dirty look, put his dry suit back on, and headed back out to try and top me.  No dice, and I walked away with the kitty, and a year’s worth of bragging rights.