Silver pike are rare and beautiful fish
Nevis claims to be the home of the World's Largest Tiger Muskie. Tourists stop to have their photo taken next to the prominent concrete statue, some on an annual basis, but ironically, the tiger muskie isn't necessarily Nevis' most prominent fishing feature.
Although Lake Belle Taine once sported a muskie hatchery, the only notable muskie lake on the chain is Big Mantrap, which sits on the opposite end winding through numerous bodies of water.
Nevis' tiger muskie could easily be transformed, with a few cans of shimmering paint, into the World's Largest Silver Pike.
The silver pike is a mutation of an ordinary northern pike, with no distinct markings and a silver-sided body with scales that are etched in gold; a true beauty to behold.
Some might wonder if such a creature actually exists or if the silver pike is the Bigfoot or Nelly of the Northwoods.
Yes, it is indeed a living specimen, one that few have the opportunity to witness, but a fish so beautiful it could be called the Mermaid of Lake Belle Taine.
According to the book "Northern Fishes" written by Eddy & Surber in 1943, published by Minnesota Press, the silver pike was "first observed about 1930 in Lake Belle Taine near Nevis, Minnesota, where it is common."
Yet if you asked Belle Taine residents, they probably wouldn't say the mutant northern pike is common. Personally, my guide clients typically land 2-4 silver pike per season. Those who do share their "oohs" and "aahs" and photos of the silvery sided fish with anyone interested in the art of angling.
Eddy & Surber state that the fish was originally thought to be a variant of the muskellunge, but numerous anatomical features indicate that it is truly a northern pike. Adding to its originality, silver pike can only spawn with other silver pike.
Records from Fuller's Bait and Tackle Golden Book Fishing Contest from 1946-1989 show that Lake Belle Taine had the most entries throughout the years, 609 total silver pike, compared to 149 for Boulder Lake, 109 entered from Spider Lake, 80 from Little Sand and 65 from Gilmore. Other lakes in the area had fewer than 21 entered throughout that time period.
Yet some past employees of Fuller's have said that not all anglers were truthful in sharing which lake the fish entered in the Golden Book Contest truly came from. Currently some anglers are still reluctant to state where the fish are biting.
Even so, with such high numbers from Lake Belle Taine, it's evident that the fishery offers the greatest opportunity for anglers to land the fish of a lifetime, even if its size might not constitute a trophy.
Though the destinations may not have been 100 percent accurate, the bait shop scale didn't lie, and the majority of silver pike entered in the Fuller's contest were 1-3.5 pounds, the largest weighing about 12-pounds.
The silver pike may not be large in size, but the interaction between angler and fish is never forgotten.