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Ringer catches humdinger, sets record for Idaho pike

Bob Ringer of Post Falls would like to fish in the upcoming pike derby at Lake Coeur d’Alene, but he doesn’t have a boat.

“Three people have turned him down to fish with them out of their boats,” said Ringer’s wife, Evelyn. “I guess they thought he didn’t know what he was doing.

“Boy, are they wrong.”

I could feel the smile spread across her face through the telephone connection Wednesday afternoon. The proud wife and her hubby were in the car headed back to the lake the day after Bob had caught the Idaho record northern pike.

“I was fishing Cougar Bay from shore,” Ringer said. “A taxidermist told me where to park and cross Highway 95. I’d been there six times this year and I hadn’t caught a pike.”

That says something about Ringer’s gift of patience. “I’ve had good days catching pike, but they’re mostly 4- to 5-pounders, he said. “One time I caught 25 of those kind of pike in one day from the Killarney Lake boat launch area.”

But lately he’s been devoting his time to catching a big pike.

“The last time I caught a big pike was 1979,” he said. “It weighed 12 1/2 pounds.”

That fish is ancient history.

Ringer had been fishing for 45 minutes Tuesday morning when something tugged at his bait.

“I go fishing with him a lot and I can’t believe I wasn’t with him this time,” Evelyn said. “But I know how he does his bait. He catches perch, then he cuts the head off and slices the fish down the middle so he fishes only half of the perch at a time.”

“I don’t use any bobber or weight,” Bob said. “I just cast it out and let it sink to the bottom.”

At first, he didn’t know what he had.

“The line went under a branch or something,” he said. “She was moving sideways and I thought I was going to lose her. For a while, she didn’t move. Then all of a sudden the line came loose from whatever it was hung up on and the fish took off. Line was screaming off the reel for 50 yards.

“I brought it in a ways and then it took off on another 50-yard run. My drag was set perfect.”

Skip Arthur, a fishing buddy Ringer met a few weeks ago, went into action as the fish finally relented and came to shore.

“He jumped in the water and when he got a hold on the fish by the eye sockets he yelled, “It’s a state record. It’s a state record.”

That was an astute observation in the heat of action.

The anglers went immediately to Fins and Feathers Tackle Shop, where the spawned-out fish was officially weighed at 39 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 48 1/2 inches long, 27 1/2 inches in girth.

The lunker was a bit of a surprise to Idaho Fish and Game biologist Joe DuPont.

“New state record pike were being caught regularly out of Coeur d’Alene 15 to 20 years ago, but then there got to be so much pressure, it was hard for the pike to get that big before they’d get caught,” he said.

The last state record pike caught out of Lake Coeur d’Alene was a 38-pound, 9-ounce fish caught April 11, 1992. A Hayden Lake pike tied that record on March 19, 2002.

“They grow pretty fast out there, getting to record weight in eight or nine years,” DuPont said. “But that’s still a lot of years to dodge all of those hooks.”

If approved by the National Freshwater Hall of Fame, Ringer’s pike qualifies as a world record on 14-pound test line.

But for now, the fish is at the taxidermist.

“That’s just something you gotta do for a record fish,” Ringer said.

“We were thinking of moving, but now I don’t think Bob will want to leave,” Evelyn said.

“He couldn’t wait to go back to his fishing hole and try to catch a bigger one. I’m going with him this time. Fishing from shore isn’t so bad.”

Coffee Pot blunder: Anglers will find tons of detailed information in the special Fishing 2007 section in today’s paper. You’ll also find an error.

My story on Washington’s selective fisheries (page 4) suggests that you can fish for the perch using scented softbaits. Not.

Rules for all selective fisheries prohibit fishing with bait or scented flies or lures.

My apologies.

Coyote alert: Legislators advance some silly ideas now and then, including the item in bill 1077 that would have required the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to list on a Web site every time a coyote frequents an area.

According to a story in the Deer Park Tribune, Sen. Bob Morton (R-Orient) is grousing because the coyote was removed from the bill that would require reporting of encounters with wolves, cougars and grizzlies.

“If I had been made aware of this sooner, I would have worked to include additional funds in the DFW budget so the department could alert ranchers when coyotes frequent an area,” Morton told the Tribune.

The Internet is marvelous, but it’s not magic. Ranchers always have and always will be the first to know when coyotes are in an area.