44 Pound European Snoek Pike (The True Story)

First - You should know that this is a European Snoek Pike, not a North American Northern Pike. Snoek Pike commonly exceed the size of the World Record Northern Pike.

My name is Ewout Blom, I'm 27 years old and was born in Rotterdam. At the moment I live in Ijmuiden (close to Amsterdam) and am lucky to be hatchery manager of a Dover sole farm in the Netherlands.

You could say my life is dominated by fish, because during my spare time I can be found on the big lakes and rivers in the Netherlands fishing for pike, zander and asp.

I like to fish for big pike! It is not that I don't enjoy catching small pike, but for practical reasons you have to use heavier tackle. Catching smaller pike on light tackle can be fun but I prefer to catch the bigger fish. I like the thrill when a big pike takes the lure or just follows it. Sometimes seeing a (big) pike chasing the lure can be so much fun, okay you will not always catch it, but that's fishing.

In the Netherlands we are blessed with a huge variety of fishing waters. From big rivers and lakes to the smaller lakes and canals. You can catch plenty of pike (if the visibility is OK) everywhere. For the best chance to hook a big pike we spent most of our time on the big lakes and rivers.

For that reason we started fishing a big lake at the end of 2004. From fishing mates we knew that it was quite hard to catch pike there. Imagine our surprise when Michel hooked a nice pike after just 20 minutes of fishing. It was a beautiful fish of 116 cm and 14kg. I still remember that we said to each other, "Difficult water? No way, it is the easiest water to catch big pike!!!"

Ten fishing days later the spirit was a little lower! I hadn't hooked a single pike and Michel had only managed to land two small jacks. It had been fairly cold that week, on the shores you could still see the remains of the snow, we had a couple of days earlier. The water temperature was still fairly low, a little over 2 degrees but the weather was nice and clear.

When trailering the boat we saw that the only other pikers were some fishing mates of ours. On the water we discussed where to fish, we decided to go to the part where Michel caught the pike on the first day. Five hours of trolling and casting later we hadn't seen any action and we decided to go back to the part were most fish are caught. When we were enjoying a nice warm cup of soup we saw our friends motoring towards us. It turned out that they'd had a super morning. They had caught 4 pike, two smaller ones and two big ones, 112cm an 123, the last one weighed 16 kg 35.2lb.

Of course we were happy for them but when they sailed away in search of even more pike I looked at Michel and said, "Today something must happen otherwise I will go nuts". Around four our friends headed home and we were the only ones left, except one boat fishing for zander. That morning I had noticed quite a lot of baitfish in a certain area, we talked it over and decided to fish it before we would leave. Yeah, some success. Michel landed a pike of 75 cm. We put it back quickly and continued.

Somehow everything felt right; it was nice and quiet on the water, almost no wind, just the two of us in a boat. I was looking at my second rod when I saw it bend a little, then it came straight before it bent completely. Something had taken the perch pattern Super Shad Rap. "Yes. Fish." I yelled, and took the rod from its support. I could immediately feel that it was a good fish, the heavy weight and the way a big pike can shake its head are so typical.

Because we were going with the wind Michel could easily reel in the other three rods. Some thirty meters from the boat the fish shook its head on the surface, before it went down again. "That's a good fish" I told Michel. "I already know", he said! The next 5 minutes I had to really pull hard to get the thing next to the boat.

When Michel managed to get the fish on board, we could both see that it was a fairly big fish, but maybe from the cold and long day on the water we were both surprised to see it had a length of 127 cm, unbelievable!!! Quickly we weighed the fish, almost 20 kg, 19.5 (42.9lb) to be precise.

I lifted the fish from the weighing mat and Michel started to take pictures. After some pictures it got harder and harder to lift the fish. What a weight! After the pictures I quickly put her back in the water and as if nothing happened she almost immediately swam away, leaving a very happy angler behind.

"This is the pike of a lifetime" I said, after releasing a shout of happiness over the water. When Michel positioned the boat back on the drop off, we both sat in the boat still fishing but not believing what had just happened.

At half past five we called it a day, but not before we made a call to our fishing mates. They were also shocked and told us that they could not wait before they would see the pictures that night. I still remember their remarks, "I already new you had caught a big fish but when I saw the pictures I knew enough". My first pike on the lake, immediately a good one!! Since that day in March a lot of fishing days went by, bringing new experiences and a lot of pleasure.

I still think it is all about that, having fun. I don't care if you use this or that technique or if you catch big or small fish, as long as you enjoy the thing you are doing.