Lunker Lakers, Predacious Pike, Wonderful Walleye, Whitefish, Arctic Grayling & More
The fishing on Phelps Lake has been mainly for Northern Pike and Lake Trout, but many other game species, and smaller baitfish inhabit the waters.
The Lake Trout of Phelps Lake are unique in their varied strains exhibiting wildly looking colors and patterns. They average in the 5 to15 pounds, with many in the 20 to 40+ pounds, range.
The Northern Pike are exceptionally large and plentiful. The unusal strain of pike in Phelps Lake along with plentiful feed produce unusually large growth with many growing into the 48 to 50 inch plus range.
Current records hold at a 47# Lake Trout, and a 52.5″ Northern Pike, both live released. The fishing has proven to be world class with Master Anglers being caught daily.
All fishing is barbless, and catch and release (and always has been). The fish are handled and live released with great care ensuring the health and welfare of the fish is being sustained.
For more of an angling challenge, feeder streams hold Arctic Grayling, and lake waters host plentiful White Fish. Sava Lake flyout holds record Walleye, Lake Trout, Northern Pike & Arctic Grayling.
Phelps Lake also hosts its own resident Mystery Trout; an unidentified fish species. Current theory holds it is a sub-species of Lake Trout unique only to Phelps Lake. See The Mystery Trout Page for more.
Northern Pike (Esox Lucius )
is a species of carnivorous fish of the genus Esox (the pikes). They are typical of brackish and freshwaters of the northern hemisphere. Northern pike are most often olive green, shading into yellow to white along the belly. The lower half of the gill cover lacks scales and they have large sensory pores on their head and on the underside of the lower jaw which are part of the lateral line system.
Pike make use of the lateral line system to register low frequency vibrations and follow the vortices produced by the perceived prey, and the whirling movement of the spinner is a good way to create these. Jerkbaits are also really effective and can produce spectacular bites with pike attacking these erratic moving lures at full speed. For trolling, big plugs or softbaits can be used.
Another form of northern pike, the silver pike, is not a subspecies but rather a mutation that occurs in scattered populations. Silver pike lack the rows of spots and appear silver, white, or silvery-blue in color. Silver Pike have been caught in Phelps Lake. One pike caught in 2004 was half silver pike and half regular pike.
Pike are found in sluggish streams and shallow, weedy places, as well as in cold, clear, rocky waters. Pike are typical ambush predators; they lie in wait for prey, holding perfectly still for long periods and then exhibit remarkable acceleration as they strike. They are able to remain stationary in the water, by just moving the last fin rays of the dorsal fins and the breast fins. Before striking they bend their body and dash out to the prey using the large surface of tail fin, dorsal fin and anal fin to propel themselves.
Pike have a distinctive habit of catching its prey sideways in the mouth, immobilizing it with its sharp backward pointing teeth, and then turning the prey headfirst to swallow it. They eat mainly fish, but on occasion water voles and ducklings have also been known to fall prey. Northern pike also feed on frogs, insects and leeches.
Pike are not very particular and will take prey small and big
The northern pike is a largely solitary predator. It migrates during a spawning season, and it follows the prey fish to their deeper winter quarters. Pike are said to start hunting at the same time, so there are some “wolfpack” theories, aka “The Water Wolf”. Large pike are known to cruise large water bodies at a few meters depth pursuing schools of prey fish. Smaller pike are more of an ambush predator, probably because of their vulnerability to cannibalism.
Northern pike spawn in late March to early May. Though they occasionally lay eggs under the ice, they usually begin moving into small streams and flooded marshes when the water temperature is 39 to 52 degrees. Females deposit up to 100,000 eggs at random. The adhesive eggs stick to flooded vegetation for about two weeks before hatching.
Northern pike fry feed on plankton and then invertebrates but soon switch to a diet consisting largely of fish. Small northern pike remain in shallow weedy water through much of the year. Large northern pike move deeper as summer progresses, seeking oxygenated water of 65 degrees or cooler.
Lake Trout (Salvelinus Namaycush)
is a freshwater char living mainly in lakes in northernNorth America. Other names for it include mackinaw, lake char, touladi, togue, grey trout, siscowet, paperbellies and leans. From a zoogeographical perspective, lake trout are quite rare. They are native only to the northern parts of North America, principally Canada but also Alaska and, to some extent, the northeastern United States.
Lake trout are the largest of the charrs, the world record weighing 46.3 kg 102 lb. Lake trout are dependent on cold, oxygen-rich waters often living at depths of 20–60 m (60–200 ft). The lake trout is a slowly growing fish, and is very late to mature.
It is generally accepted that there are two basic types of lake trout populations: planktivory or piscivorous. Lake trout in planktivorous populations are highly abundant, grow very slowly and mature at relatively small size. In those lakes or areas that do contain deep water forage, lake trout become piscivorous. Piscivorous lake trout grow much more quickly, mature at a larger size and are less abundant.
Within each population there can be countless strains and sub-species of. Salmonids (trout, salmon and whitefish) are genetically a “plastic” fish, meaning that they can exhibit a wide variation of different color patterns, shapes, feeding and habitat preferences within a species. The Lake Trout exhibit this genetic “plasticity,” with widely differing colors and shapes, as seen in Phelps Lake. They are noted for being among the most “plastic” of the chars.
A sampling of the varied strains of Lake Trout in Phelps Lake