Beauties and the beasts

Magnus, or Mangeboy as he is called, is a pike fisherman. One of the best in Sweden. A few years ago he beat all the southern Swedes hands down in a national pike fishing competition by catching five pike with a total length of 597 centimetres.

PIKE FISHING FOR LIFE

When it comes to sport fishing, Skellefteå is primarily known for two species of fish: salmon and pike. Or beauty and the beast, as some people say.

The fog is dense. It is one of the very last mornings of the summer and I don’t really know what I’m doing here. I’m a salmon fisherman and salmon are found in the Byskeälven, Åbyälven and possibly the Kågeälven rivers.
Not here in Stora Bygdeträsket.

– I think we’ll start in the bay over there, says Magnus Lindgren and opens the throttle so that the boat begins to plane. Magnus, or Mangeboy as he is called, is a pike fisherman. One of the best in Sweden. A few years ago he beat all the southern Swedes hands down in a national pike fishing competition by catching five pike with a total length of 597 centimetres. All of them were caught in the Skellefteå area. And today he’s promised to teach me to fish for large pike.

CHALLENGES

Magnus explains that it’s possible to find pike more than 100 centimetres long in all the fishing lakes around Skellefteå. The challenge lies in identifying the areas where the longest pike are also the heaviest.
– The main challenge in salmon fishing, I say, is learning to close your eyes to the facts. Like the fact that at least one thousand casts are needed for every Atlantic salmon caught in northern Sweden. So the statistics say.
– You shouldn’t rely on statistics, says Magnus and laughs.

We set up our rods. Five in total. You need to adapt your methods to the circumstances. And we are fishing in Västerbotten’s largest lake, where trolling is the best method. “Large pike can be almost anywhere,” he says. One factor that helps to ensure success is being able to cover as much water as possible.

LARGE FISH ARE MEASURED IN CENTIMETRES

Pike fishing is something that Magnus takes very seriously. He has a very deliberate approach and thinks strategically. He even makes his own lures, which have caught so many large pike that they are now on sale in fishing tackle shops all over Sweden.
– You know, I say, as Magnus rummages around in one of the crammed bait boxes, I’ve caught a 112-centimetre salmon in Swedish Lapland. Bright and shiny.
– My largest pike measured 122 centimetres, he retorts. It looked like a waterlogged branch when it came out of the lake.

Centimetres are important in sport fishing. In the past, it was onlythe weight of fish that counted. Kilos and grams. Now people also like to measure their catches. This is because of catch and release, which means returning the fish to the water after you have caught them.
– Large fish do more good in the water, says Magnus. Catch and release is essential if we want to have good fishing in future.

 

A PERSONAL BEST

Rather modestly, I reveal that my largest pike weighed 2.5 kilos and was caught in the summer.
– You’ll beat your personal best today, says Magnus. Here is a lot of bait fish.
He points to the echo sounder. It isn’t long before a pike is taking the bait from one of Magnus’ lines. “Definitely a reasonable-sized fish,” he says and passes me the rod. Reeling in the fish is straightforward. Magnus takes the pike in an expert gill grip. It weighs almost six kilos. As a salmon fisherman, I find it rather hard to grasp how easy it seems to be catching a pike.

– Smaller pike are no great problem, says Magnus. But with the really big ones, on the other hand, you need to know what you’re doing.
– Smaller pike? I say, feeling offended. I’ve just more than doubled my personal best.

A GOOD END?

– No, says Marcus. Not like this.
He looks blankly at the open snap swivel. We’ve just lost a big fish. A really big one, even by Magnus’ standards.
– Plus ten, I say. Absolutely.
– Things like this happen. They are big fish.
– But not like this. Not because of an open snap swivel.
He puts a new lure on the line. We troll for another half an hour. We don’t say anything to one another. It seems as if losing the pike has hit Magnus hard. Finally he says:
– I’ve had  it.
Sometimes you just have to stop and come back another day, even if you are one of Sweden’s most successful pike fishermen

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