Ontario Man Attacked by Northern Pike

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As you may have heard on the latest episode of Outdoor Journal Radio, we here at Fish’n Canada received an interesting call this week from an avid angler and fan of the show, Ed Skrobal.

Ed is from Ontario and had just gotten back from a fishing trip in Manitoba, but what Ed told us on the phone was no traditional fishing story. He called us to say that he was attacked by a Northern Pike.

Ed said that after getting home from the trip (a story you will soon read), he decided to scour the internet in search of other instances where this had occurred. As you would expect, the results were limited, but one site had a story that sounded very similar to his. Fortunately, that site was dev2.fishncanada.com and now Ed is kind enough to share his story with both the Outdoor Journal Radio and Fish’n Canada audience.

The Trip

Ed has been an avid angler for as long as he can remember, recalling (as many Canadian anglers can) catching Pike larger than himself when he was just 5-years old. Today, although the Pike can no longer match his height of 6’3″, Ed spends much of his time on the water in some of the only places they can come close: the remote outpost cabins of northern Canada.

This particular trip found him in Northern Manitoba at a lodge called Sasa-Ginni-Gak Lodge, a fly-in fishing lodge home to secluded outpost cabins and giant Northern Pike, one of which Ed was soon to meet.

The Attack

The attack occurred on the first day of the trip, a day that started about as peacefully as a day in Canada’s north can, with a bull moose greeting them in the water at sunrise and a morning full of spectacular walleye fishing. It was not until the evening when the day took a turn for the worse.

“It was about 5 or 6 o’clock,” recalled Ed, “we went back to the cabin for dinner and myself and two friends decided to go for a swim.”

Being at the lodge multiple times before, Ed said that he and his friends had swam here dozens of times off the old dock that sat at the front of the cabin. Now, however, a new dock had been put in place, just to the right of the old one in about 15 feet of water.

“My buddies jumped in before I did,” said Ed, “One off the left, one off the right. Not knowing the water and with the conditions especially murky, I decided just to drop myself in, sideways, right off the middle of the dock.”

It didn’t take long after hitting the water for the evening swim to lose its tranquility.

“After I went in, I waded with my arm once, waded with my arm twice, and the third time, right between my wrist and my elbow, something latched on.”

The bite only lasted a few seconds before the culprit retreated into deeper water, but Ed says that the feeling that something wasn’t right was immediate.

“There was so much blood,” he said, “As it turns out… whatever bit me nicked one of my veins.”

“My first thought was a snapping turtle,” he said, “or maybe a snake.” It wasn’t until he got out of the water and washed off the blood that he could see the tooth marks from what was later revealed to be a Northern Pike.

Despite the blood and the nasty looking lump, Ed was, thankfully, able to clean the cut himself and avoid a plane ride to the hospital.

“I got away with just a lot of blood and a messed up looking arm”

As we reported here on dev2.fishncanada.com just a month prior, victims of these freshwater fish attacks are not always so lucky.

In 2017, for example, a young girl in Minnesota was paddle boarding when her leg was grabbed and shaken from beneath by a fellow member of the Esocidae family, the Muskellunge, and the 25 separate lacerations required surgery to repair the damaged tendons.

In 2019, a woman in Minaki, Ontario had a similar encounter with a Muskie, resulting in plastic surgery.

Kim and her husband Terry were kind enough to share their story with Fish’n Canada that July, just after the incident had occurred. The full interview can be found here

Ed, on the other hand, thanks to a fast bite and an uncharacteristic lack of headshaking, got off with just a bloody wound, a strange looking bump, and an incredible story – one that was soon to get better.

The Reunion

You would think that a trip that included an attack from a Northern Pike would have few other notable highlights, but the next few days proved otherwise.

With the shock and excitement of the night before calming down, Ed and his friends spent the following evening taking in some beers and a sunset. With the sun down and the beers continuing, one of the friends, Al, decided to jokingly fall off the dock to see if the pike would attack again.

The next morning, Al realized that although he was Pike-bite free, he was also missing his brand new pair of sunglasses which were on his head the night before. With the water only being 15 feet deep, he figured he would wander down to the dock and jig for his glasses with the big spoon tied on one of the Pike rods.

“So there’s Al,” says Ed, “jigging for his sunglasses and all of a sudden, there’s the Pike.”

And not just any Pike, a 40″ inch trophy Northern Manitoba Pike, likely the very same that bit Ed’s arm just nights before.

“I was still in bed when I heard him yelling at me from the dock. I came running down in my underwear to see Al holding this giant Pike, 40 inches. The biggest of the trip!”

After a brief photo session, Al left Ed the honours of returning the fish. After a bit of reviving, Ed says the fish shortly kicked off and swam back into the depths.

Why Pike Attack

For those who are now scared to swim off their dock, it is important to remember that these incidents are extremely rare, Ed’s situation being one of the only pike attacks reported in over 2-decades. But since pike and muskie attacks do occasionally occur, it is worth taking a look at why they happen and, perhaps, how they can be avoided.

As we have mentioned in a previous article, attacks from pike, muskie, and even sharks, can almost always be chalked up to mistaken identity.

In the case of many shark attacks, surfboards and other objects can resemble seals. In the paddle boarding incident in Minnesota, a leg dangling in the water can reassemble a fish to a predator that is tuned in to locating long, skinny prey species. And in the case of this attack, Ed’s arm, although he was fully submerged, was likely just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the pike saw it flash through the murky water next to the dock it called home.

In terms of avoiding these situations, staying away from murky water and lure-like anklets are surely options, but it seems that the (very) small risk these northern lakes pose might just have to be endured by those looking to get close to these prehistoric-sized fish.

If you want to read more about pike and muskie attacks, check out our original article at the link below.

If you want to hear more about Ed’s incident, be sure to check out our full interview with him in Episode 29 of the Outdoor Journal Radio podcast!

Fish'n Canada

The Fish’n Canada Show first aired in 1986 with phenomenal success. In 1988 the program went coast to coast on CBC, the first North American weekly fishing show to broadcast on a national network. In 1992 the show went into syndication adding Global Television Network, prominent CTV and affiliates, and several cable networks. The move resulted in unprecedented fishing audiences. With the addition of WFN U.S. and The Sportsman Chanel Canada today the Fish’n Canada show dominates the airwaves with a national weekly reach of 3.5 million and ama of over 450,000 easily making it one of the most-watched “outdoors” programs in North America.

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