About a month ago, Ivan Keeney decided to take up fly fishing. He bought a $21 fly rod and learned to cast at Dry Bridge Family Fishing Pond in Kalispell, catching stocked rainbow trout. Once he felt that he was proficient at fly fishing, he decided to try for pike.
The beginning fly-caster cemented his place at the upper reaches of the sport today when he landed a 47-inch, 29.7 pound pike at Smith Lake west of Kalispell. Fishing from his canoe, Keeney hooked the pike and battled it for an hour. When Keeney finally brought the huge, toothy fish close, he wrapped a jacket around his hand and arm and grabbed the pike, hauling it into the canoe. Right away he knew he might have some kind of a record catch. He had used a 5-6 weight fly line with a 15 pound-test tippet.
Keeney took his pike to Snappys Sport Senter in Kalispell and had it weighed on their certified scale. He then brought his fish and proof of weight to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks headquarters.
FWP Fisheries Biologist Mark Deleray informed Keeney that there is no specific record category for fly fishing records in Montana, but there is a North American fly fishing record category for fly rod-caught pike. Keeney’s pike was about 7 pounds short of the state all-tackle record for Montana, but Deleray found that Keeney’s pike exceeds the current North American fly fishing record by about 5 pounds. Deleray contacted the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin to determine what Keeney needed to do to submit his pike for a North American fly fishing record. He provided Keeney with a one-page application form, which Keeney will complete and mail to Wisconsin along with his leader and tippet. The record administrators will test his 15-pound tippet and examine the application before confirming Keeney’s North American fly fishing record. Keeney plans to have his mammoth pike mounted and display it at Snappys Sport Senter.