Montana Angler Battles Monster Northern Pike and Wins
The Yaak River is probably not on the radar of a lot western Montana anglers. It's certainly not on mine. But it sure gave one fisherman a huge thrill.
The Yaak begins in British Columbia, as the North Fork Yaak, flowing for 25 miles before entering into Lincoln County in Montana. Three miles across the border, the East Fork Yaak joins the North Fork, giving rise to the Yaak River. The West Fork Yaak joins the Yaak River four miles further downstream. The river then flows through heavily wooded, mountainous terrain until its confluence with the Kootenai River. Scenery and wildlife viewing can be spectacular, but rugged, remote areas require you to be "bear aware," among other necessary precautions.
Michael McKinney was fishing from a kayak last month (yep, a kayak on the Yaak). He was only in about four feet of water when something hit his lure that started a "battle of wills" and a crazy ride on the river.
Michael was not using a steel leader on his 14-pound-test line when the enormous pike struck. He said it pulled him around for a good 15 minutes before he started to gain an advantage.
The fish measured 45 inches in length with a 21-inch girth and tipped the scales at 26.8 pounds on two different scales. For reference, the Montana state record northern pike is 37.5 pounds, taken from the Tongue River Reservoir, but I don't think too many of us would complain about hooking this "little" minnow.
Congrats to Michael McKinney and good luck on your summer fishing excursions this year.