Sandy Pond

By Spider Rybaak
Angry, the large northern swims just below the surface as if trying to figure out how to handle its tormentor.

Sandy Pond has always had a reputation for dishing out monster northern pike. Still does.

The difference between then and now is that once upon a time pike were recognized as fresh water tigers, second only to muskies, their larger cousins, in terms of ferocity. Toothy critters with a propensity for violently attacking lures–and hands that got too close to their mouths–anglers treated them with respect and admiration up until the end of the 20th century. Indeed, it was customary to cut off the heads of large ones anddisplay them by nailing them over garage doors and trees—and porch posts on Halloween.

Nowadays, the majority of anglers don’t have time to consider the fish’s noble characteristics. Oh sure, people still travel from all over the world to pike hot spots like the pond in hopes of tackling with a trophy; but to most, they’re a pain in the… because they’re too hard to handle.

Still, many are taken incidentally by anglers participating in the pond’s numerous bass tournaments. You see, this is the best largemouth spot on Oswego County’s stretch of the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Wetland Area, a fantastic, 17-mile-long collection of sand dunes, bays and ponds. And even though there’s usually money at stake and every second lost to unhooking a pike means less time to fish for the tournament winning hawg, sportsmen who appreciate the mystery of nature’s wisdom see northerns as an important component of the aquatic world and treat pike with patience and reverence.

So when my good buddy Pat Miura uttered “Oh-oh…I think I just nailed something big…maybe a musky” during a recent walleye/bass trip on the pond, I had a feeling it was a large northern.

We were jerking Smithwick Rogues over breaks and the edges of weed beds for walleyes. When the northernfelt the sting of the hooks, it took off like a jet ski in the direction of the outlet.

“The only way to handle a fish this size, especially with treble hooks hanging from its mouth, is to let it tire itself out completely,” Pat reasoned.

A professional guide for almost 25 years, he’s an old hand at controlling large, uncooperative leviathans like trophy steelhead, monster landlocked Atlantic salmon, and boss hawgs. Within a few minutes, the pike was circling the boat in an exhausted, last ditch attempt to avoid meeting the man up close and personal.

When it was at the side of the boat, Pat jerked the rod tip gently to see if the beast had another round of battle in it. Nope…It just lay on its side, gasping.

Close up: Note the 6-inchSmithwick Rogue in its teeth.
Oh yeah…We got largemouths, too.
And some more largemouths.
After a while, even the biggest grows tired.