Blue Pike Sprenger Part III
Back to part two Back to part one Back to Blue Pike index page Back to main website index
Ken Sprenger's Blue Pike History
is the third and final part of the blue pike history story.
This 1943 photo is
Art King, a Commercial Netter
the Endangered Species law was enacted in 1973, a blue pike recovery team was
organized. Two years later, a report, which I have, was released. The recovery
team included the top biologist in the Great Lakes region, the only home of the
blues. They found none. Some blue colored walleyes show up now and then, but the
true species is history.
did I find a blue pike frozen? We will have to wait for it to be identified.
During an interview with commercial netter Elton Jeffords, a frozen blue pike
was mentioned. Jerry Condren of Youngstown confirmed he had a fish frozen since
1970, taken from Lake Huron where there had been a resident population.
This past Monday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service informed me that they are very much interested in examining the fish. The interview with Jerry included Art King. Art was once a commercial netter, as were his father and grandfather.
and Jerry covered much of what Jeffords said. It reaffirmed what I have already
written. Jerry did handle a lot of blue pike, both catching them with hook and
line and helping remove them from nets. He also ran a fishing party boat at
times. He is well acquainted with the species. Now it is up to the lab to
provide positive identification.
Art recalled about the party boats, I said that when I was counselor to the
Tonawanda’s Sportsmen Junior Club, I had taken five boys out on a party boat.
We caught a few blues and one of the boys spent some time leaning over the side.
talking with the commercial fishermen, one realizes that it was a tough way to
make money. Rolling seas were combined with cold, raw winds and heavy nets.
Cleaning fish, mending nets and delivering the fish to Buffalo and other places
was not an easy job. Family tradition did play a part in passing the livelihood
down, as long as there were fish.
those I talked to over the past several weeks, one was Mel Drake. Not only did
he recall fishing for the blue pike, but he also gave me three flies for a
display I'll be putting together. The most familiar was the Yellow Sally, red
tail and yellow body with a large yellow feather. The Erie fly was the same
except it had no large feather.
preference for the blues was a small fly. Originally it had a white
body, tail, and feather. He dyed
it pink. This was fished off a leader from a three-way swivel and behind a No. 2
silver Hildabrant spinner. A piece of worm was added for scent.
angler one day was skunked nearby and offered $1.50 for one of his special rigs.
Mel was asked by the owner of the Burt Hotel to bring over some blue pike.
Finally, he sold some for 25 cents per pound and made $13.50.
Beahn, age 81, recalled his ventures out on Lake Erie's ice. He used a spreader
rig and that was a top producer. It was just a semi circle of wire with loops on
the end. In the middle of the wire was a swivel. A lot of action by the minnows
turned the jig around. Taking two at a time was not unusual. But the day of 50
blue pike in an hour was followed by eight for the next day.
said those were the good old days out on the ice heating up some soup and
fishing with Bill Schmidt, his brother-in-law.
Sprenger, my 82-year-old uncle, recalled the day that he, Norm Luther, Al
Holland and Alfred Lawrence fished for blues. England declared war on Germany
that day. Later, the United States joined World War II and Gerry, with so many
others, would walk many miles across Europe. The span from the end of the war to
the end of the blue pike was about 10 years.
Fischer was good enough to lend me some of her late husband's articles. Howard
"Buck" Fischer used to write an Outdoors Column for the Tonawanda NEWS.
his column dated June 2, 1952, Buck writes, "A week ago we mentioned that
there were excellent prospects for improved pike fishing in the lower Niagara
River, due to the heavy net catches now being brought in by commercial
should indicate that the run in the lower river will be one of the best in
years, and while a few blues are being taken now, the best fishing is always
later in the summer.”
ends the blue pike series. What I have tried to do is give an eyewitness account
of a species that became extinct.
One last story. The year was 1935 or thereabouts. A young boy walked down Devil’s Hole steps to the waters edge. His Father whirled a chalk line with a sinker and two hooks around and around and let loose. One blue pike was caught that day, my first.
Back to part two Back to part one Back to Blue pike index page Back to main website index
Back to Outdoors Niagara Home