Big Pike Couldn’t Handle This Meal

This northern pike apparently died trying to eat a 3-pound sucker. Jessica Collman of Grand Marais holds the fish as Mark Welinski of Duluth looks on. (Julie Collman photo)

As Julie Collman tells it, this northern pike literally bit off more than it could chew.

Collman, of Grand Marais, was returning from fishing on Saganaga Lake with her daughter, Jessica, and friend Mark Welinski of Duluth last Friday.

They were motoring down the Sag Corridor toward the public landing when Collman saw a gull on the water — and something else.

“I saw some fins sticking up,” said Collman, who’s been fishing Saganaga since 1991. “Out of curiosity, I slowed down, turned around and went to look. What we saw was mind-boggling.”

What they saw was a 37-inch-long northern pike lying dead in the water with about a 3-pound sucker stuck headfirst in its jaws. The pike apparently had choked while trying to ingest the fish.

“I was like, ‘Holy cow!’ ” Collman said.

She pulled the northern pike into the boat and measured it. Only the back third of the sucker was protruding from the jaws of the pike. The head had already entered the pike’s stomach. It wasn’t clear whether the sucker had been alive when the northern tried to eat it, Collman said.

“I couldn’t pull it out or push it in,” Collman said.

Collman has the two fish — the sucker still stuck in the pike — in her freezer, she said. She plans to have the pair mounted as they were found.

After reading about Collman’s encounter with the northern pike on Saganaga Lake, Michael Richtarich of Britt sent this note:

“About 10 years ago, my granddaughter spotted a big fish floating about 50 feet from the end of our dock on Little Lake Leander. We went out in the fishing boat and noticed that the almost dead fish had a white spot on its tail. We scooped it into the landing net and found it choking on a sunfish.”

Richtarich said the walleye, measuring about 32 inches, is mounted on den wall minus the sunny.

Here’s a photo of Richtarich’s walleye:

Michael Richtarich’s walleye with sunfish in its mouth. (Michael Richtarich photo)