The Muncher Nymph and an "Incidental Catch"
The Muncher Nymph will produce fish, but sometimes you never know which species of fish. In the fall, the Muncher Nymph comes into its own as a back-end Smallmouth Bass, Carp and Redhorse fly, so when my ace fishing buddy Steve and I set out for some early morning bass fishing on the mighty Thames River, the undisputed centre of the fly-fishing universe, a size #6 Muncher was the obvious choice.

Fishing a Muncher Nymph on a 15-foot level leader of 4-pound Vanish fluorocarbon, using a 5-weight rod, I was having some great luck plucking Smallmouth Bass from a deep, slow pool. Although the Smallmouth Bass were busting minnows in the shallows, they would hammer my offering of the Muncher Nymph, provided it was fished upstream using the Polish nymphing technique. After one nice long cast, the line gently tightened up and I had that "Uh-oh!" feeling in my gut, which has proven time and again to be the prelude to some type of aquatic disaster. Gingerly I set the hook, and the fish went ballistic. Initially I thought I had hooked the biggest Smallmouth Bass of them all, but then the rod-bending headshakes started me thinking, "Carp." However as soon as it cartwheeled out of the water, even the late Ray Charles could have figured out it was about an 8-pound Northern Pike.

The thing about Northern Pike is ...
The thing about Northern Pike is that they have teeth, lots of teeth, and the thing about fly fishing for Smallmouth Bass is that you don't need to take a net along with you

The question then becomes ...
If you hook a Northern Pike on 4-pound fluorocarbon, and after a 15-minute battle, you are lucky enough to bring it to hand, how do you get the Muncher Nymph out of its mouth? Well, the answer is that you kind of, sort of, stick your thumb into its mouth and lip land it, just like you can with a Smallmouth Bass. This technique will work. I have done it time and time again on this size of Northern Pike, but there is a catch, you need to press down its "tongue." Things were going rather well and I had just removed the Muncher Nymph from the back of its mouth, when the fish decided to have a wee thrash about and I lost my grip on its tongue.

The end result
One or two headshakes from the Northern Pike-that-ate-a-Muncher and 21 slashes were inflicted on my thumb. Twenty-one slashes! There has to be an O.J. Simpson joke here, but I refuse to stoop so low as to take a stab at it.

It's all good
Needless to say, the Pike was safely released, and I continued fishing for another three or four hours. I still won't carry a net when fishing for back-end Smallmouth Bass, as the chances of hooking another Pike have to be, well, hundreds to one. Sort of like lightning striking in the same place twice ... like that ever happens, although Fuzzy Zellar - the Ben Franklin of the golfing world - springs to mind. It took my thumb just over a week to heal up, and I doubt if the fish bothered to go and get a tetanus shot. As it swam away it was probably thinking, "Hey, tastes like chicken."Now you may be thinking to yourself, "What was Steve doing during all of this?" That's a good question, and at the moment, I don't have a good answer. Although he did assist in holding the fish for the photographs.