Blue Pike - Sprenger Part  I

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OUTDOORS WITH KEN

ANOTHER LOOK AT EXTINCT BLUE PIKE
Written By Ken Sprenger
Outdoor writer with the Tonawanda News, Tonawanda NY
 

This story is written in three parts and it relates to extensive research by
Ken Sprenger, a prominent Western New York Outdoor Writer.
Mr. Sprenger interviewed several well known blue pike fishermen from the past
 and this story is the result of those efforts.

PART ONE:  

From time to time, I'll mention any research on a now extinct species of fish, the blue pike. As I talk with those who have fished for them, I have to be amazed at the amount of food this fish gave to this region.

Also, the recall by all was that the Creator endowed the blue pike with a flavor unmatched. I can attest to that myself, having caught and eaten them.

I remember one night after a Tonawanda’s Sportsmen Club meeting that the catch of Herman Krehan and Frank Castoline was consumed with much acclaim. Fried fillets served in rolls, that was over 40 years ago, but some things one never forgets.  

From time to time, I'll mention any research on a now extinct species of fish, the blue pike. As I talk with those who have fished for them, I have to be amazed at the amount of food this fish gave to this region.

Also, the recall by all was that the Creator endowed the blue pike with a flavor unmatched. I can attest to that myself, having caught and eaten them. I remember one night after a Tonawanda’s Sportsmen Club meeting that the catch of Herman Krehan and Frank Castoline was consumed with much acclaim. Fried fillets served in rolls, that was over 40 years ago, but some things one never forgets.

Old-timers ask, "whatever happened to the blue pike?" while youngsters ask, "what's a blue pike?”

Last week I visited the Youngstown Historical Museum and viewed a few old photographs, but it was the interview with several retired commercial fishermen that shed a lot of light on the life of the blue pike. One such person was Elton Jeffords. At 69, his recall is sharp.

He and his brother Bill netted blue pike off Youngstown, where the Niagara River enters Lake Ontario. Having handled thousands, he explained the blue was similar to the yellow pike, which we now call walleyes. The slant on the nose had a small dip and their eyes were larger and set higher on the head.

For the positive check, the fin between the dorsal and tail was lifted. If it had no yellow spots, it was definitely a blue pike. It was important to identify them for the restaurants that wanted only them and not the yellow pike.

It has long been said the commercial netters destroyed this once great fishery. I'm convinced this wasn't so. The demise of the blues was in the mid-1950s and pollution was the main cause, with help from the hook and line anglers.

It was the law and good business to have three-inch mesh for the nets. This allowed two or three spawning years before they were netted. Ralph Mayo, the tough Conservation officer from Lockport, inspected the mesh with a steel tape.

In part two we'll look at who took more, those with the rod and reel or the netters.

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