top of page

What is a Trophy Fish

Many decades have passed since our cottage lake has produced trophy class pike. Back in the day, that being the ’50’s and 60’s it spit up big ones regularly as evidenced by the black and white photographs of my grandfather. His method was too troll a chrome plated Canadian Wiggler behind the row boat. Since then the size of the pike has shrunk no doubt through the effects of climate change on a small body of water.

During the 90’s our family’s method had shifted from rowing too trolling with small horsepower outboards using the deepest diving Rapala Shad Raps. We still get out and troll the same route, the same lure still works it’s magic and our average size of fish has continued to go down. At one time the average pike was five pounds and now it’s more like three, the largest I’ve seen come out of the lake was a 12 pounder my Uncle Norm caught around 1990.

My oldest nephew with the first of two Southern Ontario trophy pike.

To read or watch any fishing media our standard of pike wouldn’t seem worthy, while I was always happy being able to fish the place daily I dreamt of going places where I would easily catch true monsters. As an impressionable youth I bought into the idea that bigger pike were better than my pike at home. There has been a shift over the years in what I consider a trophy, whether that is a deer or the fish I am catching.

Having just finished a three week stint at the family cottage it’s nice to sit around home, sort through the photos and reflect on the fish that were caught. The smallmouth bass were big by any measure, the largemouth were solid and man oh man the pumpkinseed sunfish where the size of a dessert plate. It was the pike that really had me stoked though, there were two, both caught by my oldest nephew on the 10 weight rig that were solid.

In the eight pound area they were big for our little lake, the biggest caught in several years. Large heads, rows of dagger sharp teeth and broad shoulders they gave up a hell of a fight that was awesome to watch. He played them hard and well until I could scoop them up in the net.

Trophy number two for Nolan, both on the fly rod no less!

Maybe your definition of a trophy pike is different, maybe you get to fish water that produces the classic 20 to 30 pound fish that are considered big. All the power to you and heck yes I’d love to tag along and catch some of those. For our lake eight pounds is big, big as they get anymore and for a kid who hasn’t caught one near that size or been inundated with fishing media they were both trophies and he was proud of them. I may have pulled a few out of there over the past 35 years that were a little bigger, but considering the lake they were a trophy to me too.

We each get to determine what constitutes a trophy fish and my standards are very much on a sliding scale. Sometimes it’s determined by what a body of water can produce, a great way to keep expectations in check, or it may be a new species like finally hooking a walleye on a fly or landing my first cutthroat. The challenge of fishing is a worthwhile pursuit, letting yourself get down because where you drop a line doesn’t have world class size trophies is a surefire tactic for disappointment, and that’s not my style.

See you on the water or the mountain.

-Matthew Mallory


bottom of page