Cindy’s “Lucky” Deceiver
An incredible but true story about trophy pike on the fly
by Dan Blanton
My wife, Cindy almost didn’t make the trip with me and my group to Scott Lake this past June, 1998 because she had developed a severe case of bursitis in her left shoulder. The pain had been nagging for several weeks but it finally began to subside just days before departure making it possible for her to join us for a phenomenal week of fly fishing for huge pike and lake trout at Scott Lake, Saskatchewan - and was she glad she did!
The following is a true story about a fly Cindy dubbed her “Lucky Deceiver”. Now I know there are a lot of lucky fly stories out there, but I’m sure there are none quite like this...
Cindy is right-handed so the bursitis in her left shoulder didn’t prevent her from using fly-casting tackle that first morning we hit the pike bays. I had rigged up a 7-weight, over-lined with an 8-weight floater, so she could easily toss the bright yellow and orange Lefty’s Deceivers I had tied especially for her. These were on a 2/0 hook with double wire weed guards, about 5-1/2 inches long, with silver/pearl flashtails. Scott Lake pike have always loved this particular Deceiver pattern.
Cindy was into the fish almost from her first cast, slamming pike ranging from 3 to ten pounds about every other cast and having a great time whooping it up and keeping our guide, Richard, busy releasing fish. Since pike are not line-burners, all of the fish she hooked were hand-stripped to the boat.
About midway into the morning, after releasing dozens of average pike, a Big Moe garbaged Cindy’s fly. Cindy struck hard and held on figuring to just hand-strip this one in like all the others. She didn’t realize the fish was in the 18-pound-plus range. Her rod humped and bucked, the surface turned into a cauldron of white water and the 20-pound tippet parted with an ear-piercing SNAP! Cindy’s left arm shot downward like she was double-hauling a cast into the next county. She didn’t say a word to Richard and me, but that unexpected arm-thrust caused her excruciating pain of which I didn’t pick up on until later that day. When I realized how much agony she was in, I asked Richard to take us in early. Cindy didn’t didn’t tell us how much she was hurting because she didn’t was to wuss out or spoil the day. She’s a trooper when it comes to things like that but decided not to fish the following day.
After resting her arm for a day, Cindy was ready to give the pike another go, but instead of using traditional fly tackle, she was armed with a spinning outfit rigged with a clear casting bubble and fly combo, I had set up for her - a deadly combination for pike fishing. She had used a similar rig for tarpon and snook in Venezuela a few years back and had lots of faith in the system. She again was back in the “bucket” as we say, ripping pike lips, one after the other, landing an 18-pounder on the outfit, her first Scott Lake “trophy” pike.
At dinner the third night in camp, two days after Cindy had lost her Deceiver to that big fish, Jay Remely, an old friend and one of my group, handed Cindy the very fly which that monster pike had broken off. He and his wife, Debbie, had been fishing the same bay in which Cindy had lost the big fish, and had spotted the flashy fly laying on bottom.
“Hey, thanks, Jay!” Cindy exclaimed, “Can you imagine the luck of someone finding my lost fly in all of this water...” “This has got to be my lucky fly!”
She insisted I tie it on the leader of her spin/bubble-fly outfit. “I’m going to nail a Big Moe on this lucky fly”, she pronounced.
The next morning Jay Remely and I, along with Mike McKenzie and Don Langrock flew out to another lake for a shot at nearly virgin pike and lake trout, while Cindy and Debbie headed out for a “girls” day on Scott Lake with Jay’s guide, Tim.
Cindy and Debbie were into the fish from the first cast. Cindy’s bubble and Lucky Deceiver combo were slamming the big pike and she hooked and landed another trophy, making it two in just four days.
Problem was, though, that I hadn’t rigged the bubble/fly combo quite correctly for pike fishing. Pike, as most well know, have a set of dentures like a brush chipping machine and can slice through thin mono like it was cooked linguini. I should have run a short section of coated, braided wire through the bubble to act as a bite leader, since pike will readily strike a waking casting bubble perceiving it edible as it slides along the surface, dragging the fly. Cindy had her bubble “piked-off” about a half dozen times during the course of the morning but Tim was always able to recover it as it floated back to the surface after the pike released it, saving the bubble and Cindy’s lucky fly.
Finally the inevitable happened. A pike ate the bubble and wouldn’t let it go, swimming away with it in its mouth, Cindy’s lucky fly trailing behind, with pike after pike trying to eat it.
“Oh no!” Cindy exclaimed, “there goes my lucky fly!” “Tim, you’ve got to get back my bubble and lucky fly!” she urged.
“Cindy, I can’t get it back!” Tim responded, “the pike ate it!”
“You’ve got to get it back!”, she insisted!
Tim agreed to give it a try and started following the pike around the small bay with the boat. The pike finally stopped and Cindy’s fly settled to bottom, leader hanging from the pike’s massive maw.
“Tim.”, Cindy urged, “You’ve got to catch that pike and get back my lucky fly and bubble!”
“Cindy!” Tim retorted, “That pike isn’t going to eat again!”
“Give it a try!”, she pleaded, “I want my lucky fly back!”
They all were howling with laughter by this time, tears streaming down both women’s faces. Talk about a comedy...
Tim picked up Cindy’s fly rod, rigged with an identical twin to her lucky Deceiver, cast the fly to the bubble-eating pike and the pike jumped on it like a rat on cheese!
Tim landed the pike, amidst uncontrollable laughter, removed the fly from its jaw and upon looking inside the fish’s mouth, allowed that the pike had swallowed the bubble. He then gently pulled the bubble from the pike’s stomach, released the critter and re-rigged the bubble outfit for Cindy with her tattered, lucky, lost and found fly that had already survived the jaws of dozens of big pike, including two trophies, and several break-offs.
Cindy, elated to have her bubble and luck fly back, went back into action and two casts later nailed a 21-pounder, her third trophy pike and the one which also turned out to be the largest pike of the week at Scott Lake. Now you know why she re-named her Lefty’s Deceiver, the “Lucky Deceiver”.
The fly and bubble along with this great shot of Cindy with Tim holding her Big Moe, are being framed for her office wall. An incredible story for sure - but it’s all true!
By the way, I asked Lefty if he minded Cindy re-naming his great fly for this occasion. “Not at all!”, he said. “That fly certainly earned the name “Lucky”!”