By Tammy Scott
When the six Safari Club International Foundation Sables members, from the Denver chapter, got together for a half-day of fishing, little did they know that blood, a lot of blood, was going to be shed before the day was through.
At 7:45 am we met Nate Zelinsky, guide and owner of Tightline Outdoors, and guide Will Dykstra, at Spinney Mountain Reservoir for a half day of fishing. Spinney, a gold medal fishery, is located about 2 and a half hours south and west of Denver. Nate left it up to us how we would split the anglers and guides. Since I had fished with Nate prior on a fantastic trip on Antero Reservoir, I spoke up and said that Peggy (my mother) and I wanted to go with Nate. Glenna thought this would be fun and was our third angler.
It was a sunny and gorgeous, but cool start to the day. We were all wishing we had brought more clothes, but by noon it had warmed up to 75 degrees. Honestly, it was a slow day for everyone on Spinney, not just our two boats. We were getting a few hits trying different lures and techniques. After a couple of hours, Mom caught an under 20-inch cutbow (a cross between a cutthroat trout and rainbow trout), so by regulation we had to put it back. She was really excited to have landed one. Then mom caught a rainbow trout that was over 20 inches, so we got to keep that one (I was thinking “Mmmm. Dinner!”)
Nate decided we needed to try trolling. We were up for anything that would offer us the opportunity at catching more fish. We were at it for a little while and then my reel went "weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" I started reeling and reeling. Nate tightened the drag on my reel and I kept trying to bring in whatever was on the other end of my line. My triceps were screaming and I was wondering what the heck I had hooked into. I kept thinking that I didn’t know if I could bring this fish all of the way into the boat, but I really didn’t want to give up and ask for help. As the fish got closer, Nate put the smaller of the nets back and got out the much larger net. I could see that it was a northern pike and I kept thinking “Don’t get off! Don’t get off!” Nate scooped up my fish and was smiling from ear to ear. “You have a real trophy here!” I had caught my first ever northern pike! I was so happy that my cheeks hurt from smiling. I was glad that I hadn’t given up and asked for help getting him to the boat. We took some photos and then put a tape measure on him. Forty six wonderful inches! Not only was this my first northern pike, but a huge one. We decided that we needed a few more pictures with both Nate and I in them. Glenna was the photographer. Nate was holding the pike and I was just smiling! After the last picture, just before we were going to release it, the fish had decided that it had enough, it whipped around trying to get loose while Nate was holding on tight and hit Nate on the face, which made Nate stumble, almost falling in the reservoir and he dropped the fish. Nate caught himself, bent over and picked up the fish. When Nate looked up, we saw blood all over the left side of his face.We didn’t know if the blood was from the fish or Nate. Nate wiped his face and it bled more. Uhh oh. We tried to stop the bleeding and after a closer look we could see that the pike had bit Nate’s face! Yes, you read that right; the pike actually bit Nate on the face. The pike was fine, so Nate put it in the hold while he tried to stop the bleeding. It looked like a comb made of razors had dragged down his face. Nate was ecstatic about the pike and wasn’t too worried about the wound or all of the blood. Every time he smiled, it opened the wound and blood would pour out of his face again. Needless to say, with such a great fish in the hold, he kept smiling!
Nate called Will and said to cruise on by and look at what we had caught. Nate had a permanent ear to ear grin. I’m not sure what Will was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t the huge pike Nate pulled out of the hold. The jaws of everyone on Will’s boat dropped when they saw how large the pike was. It was such a cool feeling to know that I had such a lucky day. Will and the three anglers were all talking at the same time asking who caught it, how big is it, etc. Everyone was very happy for me. We put the pike back in the reservoir and it swam off to wait for the next lucky angler.
When asked about the experience, Nate said, “Well, after landing over 1,500 40-inch pike over the years, today they got revenge. Immediately after this photo, no lie, this 46-inch monster flipped around in my hands, with so much power and speed and drilled me in the face. I totally went numb, dropped the fish and almost went in; ha, ha! Don’t worry, the fish was fine and lived to fight again. I’ve never in my career seen a fish with more power and speed! I’ll be black and blue by morning! My hats off to these mega pike! I’ve been beating them for 16 years, I guess they deserved a shot at me this time!”
All three of the anglers on the other boat limited out with trout. Glenna and I left without any fish in the cooler, but all of us have a fish story of a lifetime!