Angler hooked on big pike
Tyler Uzelman is casting his line to repeat as the Alberta Angler of the Year
By: Jeff Hansen
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 14, 2013 06:00 am
The reigning Alberta Angler of the Year is hooked on reeling in another winner after his catch of a lifetime.
“Absolutely. I want to repeat,” said Tyler Uzelman, who pulled out a 47.5-inch, 23.5-pound northern pike from Maybelle River near Fort Chipewyan in June of 2012.
“This year I’ve caught a 47-inch pike (at Namur Lake in northern Alberta) but I don’t think it’s long enough to win this year. I think it’s going to be 49 or 50 inches that is going to win it.”
The avid pike fisherman from St. Albert will cast his line into Wabamun Lake in search of this year’s contest champion.
“They apparently have some big pike there as well, and using some of the techniques I’ve learned, we’re going to see if we can find one of those big guys.”
Uzelman, 41, has until Jan. 30 to send in the paperwork – complete with pictures of him holding the prize fish and one with a rigid measurement device detailing the length of the pike – for consideration in the annual contest sponsored by Namur Lake Lodge and Alberta Outdoorsmen Magazine.
In late February when the Alberta Guide to Sportfishing Regulations is published, Uzelman would check out the winners in the pike, rainbow trout and walleye categories.
“They’re always monstrous fish and I always wanted to be one of those people that caught the big fish. It’s been a longtime dream and I’m sure most anglers when they thumb through it they’re always thinking about that,” said Uzelman, who was awarded $300 in spending money, a one-year subscription to Alberta Outdoorsmen Magazine and as the grand prize winner as the angler of the year, a fly-in fishing trip to Namur Lake, courtesy of Namur Lake Lodge.
Uzelman didn’t know he made the honour roll until he saw the 2013 regulations online.
“I went on the computer and there was a copy so I paged through the PDF. My girlfriend (Carolyn) was with me and when I got to the back page, there was the picture of me and I go woo-hoo! She thought I won the lottery and I go, ‘It’s better than that!’”
Uzelman’s largest catch before last year’s winner was a 40-inch pike.
“I love pike fishing. A lot of people don’t target northern pike. They consider them slough sharks, but their Latin name is water wolf and they eat anything. They have a ferocious appetite,” he said. “The big ones have totally different habits than the small ones. Most people catch small little pike. I can throw a hook into (the Sturgeon River) and probably catch a pike (which Uzelman did Wednesday night from the boat launch after only a few casts). The big ones have very different habits and to target them you have to fish a lot differently than the average person does.”
The third time was the charm for Uzelman fishing for pike near Fort Chipewyan last year with two buddies.
“There is big fish up there all the time,” he said of the area that took more than four hours to reach by quad after driving north to the end of the Fort Chipewyan road. “Two years ago a forest fire went through the whole area so there is a lot of black but for some reason there is a lot of pike and I think that helped with the pike. They were just abnormally hungry that year.”
Uzelman used a normal Canadian Tire fishing rod and a Len Thompson hook to catch his award-winning pike.
“It was mid-morning and we sort of targeted an area and cast our spools into it. When you get a hit you know almost instantaneously if you have a big fish or a small fish, just because of how they act, but with that one I knew I had a big one,” he said. “It was basically a battle for about five minutes of bringing it to the boat and then it takes off again. You just tire him out. We didn’t have nets up there last year so I brought him alongside the boat and reached in with my hand under the gills and pull him into the boat and right away I knew this is a monster fish.”
Uzelman decided to cook it instead of stuffing it.
“I brought it home and took pictures of it with my kids so we have a record of it. I then filleted it and my mom stood over the stove for an hour and a half cooking just that one fish. It fed 10 of us. It was a meal for supper. It was all we could eat and we still had 12 pieces left over. It was fantastic. Pike is one of the best tasting fish there is.”
Uzelman got hooked on fishing at an early age growing up in Camrose.
“There is nothing like it. When you’re out in a boat casting a line, you don’t have any worries in the world. It’s just you against Mother Nature,” he said. “It’s hard to explain. It’s sort of like a runner’s high. It’s the same thing about fishing.”
The best advice Uzelman has for novice anglers is to do research.
“There are some great books on pike out there that I’ve read and it totally changed the way I fish for pike. I can go to a place and I sort of have a way better understanding of where pike are and their habits and that will increase the chances of catching a big pike exponentially.”