Tagged pike is worth $1 million

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Unlucky fish to make some angler very lucky

Tagged pike may carry $1 million reward

By Benjamin Shors, Spokane Spokesman Review Staff writer

Coeur d'Alene _ Finally, an excuse to go fishing.

A beer company will release a tagged northern pike into Lake Coeur d'Alene on Saturday that could be worth $1 million.

Busch Beer said Lake Coeur d'Alene was one of 40 lakes across the country that will be stocked with a tagged fish. Thirty-nine of the fish will have a first prize tag, worth $1,000. But one fish will be the grand prize, a million-dollar catch.

"I guarantee you that anybody that catches a pike is going to look it over real close," said Jeff Smith, a guide at Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop. "We've had a lot of people stop by" to get information on the contest.

Fishers will have 30 days to catch "Big Jake," as the million-dollar fish is being called. Participants must be 21 years old. Non-winning fish, the company points out in a press release, are not tagged and do not contain any message.

Smith said the pike's predictable spring habits make it a catchable fish.

This time of year, pike frequent the weedy shallows of the lake's biggest bays, ambushing smaller prey.

"I'd assume the fish would go to one of the major bays, even if they let it go in the middle of the lake," Smith said. "If I was to guess, I'd say this Big Jake is going to be in under 10 feet of water."

And likely catchable from shore.

Because the fish come in shallow to spawn, they swim within distance of the shoreline.

Northern pike were introduced illegally to the chain lakes along the Coeur d'Alene River in the early 1970s, and have become one of the lake's most popular sport fish.

Pike primarily feed on perch, making spoons, daredevils and plugs good fishing gear, Smith said.

Unlike some of the other contest fish -- such as a yellow perch tagged in Lake Erie -- Lake Coeur d'Alene's pike has a good chance of being caught.

"There's 18 kabillion million perch in Lake Erie, spread across an enormous lake," Smith said. "Pike migrate to the big, shallow bays this time of year. Knowing that, you can eliminate probably three-fourths of the entire lake."

Lucky Peak Lake is the only other Idaho waterway with a tagged fish. The company will release a tagged rainbow trout at the lake. No lakes in Washington contain tagged fish from the contest.

•Benjamin Shors can be reached at (208) 765-7147 or by e-mail at benjamins@spokesman.com.
 

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