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After last years trip, had to sneak out between salmon/steelhead trips and find a couple more Musky to play with this past week. They are the biggest baddest predator that we have here in the Midwest. They are a special fish and I love the chase. With possible new laws and the MDNR working hard to find new waters to plant Musky in, the future looks bright.
Guest Writer : Jerome Seid
Writing about his Musky Adventure that we took this September. Enjoy.
Getting the Muskie Off My Back
Not that I needed to drive so far to find the damned fish. But it seemed like a great way to put myself in a position to accomplish that which I had been unable to do for several years – hook and land a muskie on the fly. Sure I had gone out with other guides on Lake St Clair several times. The reputation as a world class muskie fishery kept me coming back. Yet each time I tried, the conditions weren’t right, my double haul deteriorated into only a single and the wind and temps wouldn’t cooperate. Needless to say I was becoming quite frustrated at the prospect of not hooking and landing one of those toothy creatures. Once I even fooled myself into thinking that the resistance I felt after a great cast with my over-lined 8 weight Sage stick was a strike – never saw it but it made me believe a bit more. So when JR came up with some hare-brained idea to hit the river for a couple of days for muskie, I couldn’t refuse. I had to do this – it was on my fishing “bucket list’ and I knew it must be done.
The mid-September morning started out with a mist eerily shrouding the launch site – making it difficult to see but a bluebird sky was in the forecast. The tannin stained water moved slowly, almost oozing, and the center trough looked deep and menacing – I could only imagine the mayhem lurking beneath the surface. As we slowly made our way down (or was it up) stream, I could barely conceal my excitement. The thought of stalking such fish in such a remote and tranquil place was overwhelming. Maybe 50 – 60 feet wide at some points, the edges held weeds and steep drop-offs – no way was I going to wade into that. The banks were swampy looking – no place to stand easily. Lots of small baitfish were visible in the shallows and the sandhill cranes were busy along the shore –a good sign if you ask me. So we slowly drifted, using the silent trolling motor casting from the boat deck, taking turns. They say that muskie are fish of 10,000 casts, and that may be an underestimate! Throwing large 6 inch streamers over and over again was starting to wear me down, but we kept at it. Beaver dams the size of small cars, weeds, river elbows – any ambush point – we hit – over and over again. I can’t recall how many miles we covered that first day. Then, JR had one hit and hooked – Sure enough, I was looking the other way when it happened –isn’t that always the case – but it was still the first step toward our, that is my goal. The fight wasn’t what we’d expected, but the fish was gorgeous – we spent several minutes taking photos, video and even an underwater release. My photography skills need to be honed a bit, I’ll admit but I think some of the shots were decent. Okay, my turn, I thought. Cast #5,285, cast #5286, cast #5287…. Where is that bastard? Okay – Have a snack, smoke a cigar, settle down now, it’ll happen.
JR gets into another slashing fish – nicer than the first one – more video and still shots. By this time it was getting late, and we had little idea how long it would take us to motor back to the launch site. With a few stops at some of the previous holes that we had fished on the way down and marked on the GPS, it didn’t take long for us to cover the distance. Hell, there was no one else on the whole river for those many miles. We even tried some video footage as we sped upstream (or was it downstream?). Then I am feeling a tug – not quite the explosion I was waiting for – northern pike – Hell, at this point I’ll take anything. 3 or 4 Northerns later as the sun was setting, I’m disappointed, wondering if I’m destined not to have my muskie today or any day. Now I was feeling the pressure to get it done the next day.
We sat at the local restaurant that night reliving the day’s experience, planning our next day – feeling exhausted but exhilarated. I had to console my partner – he had hoped it would have been my first that
day, but he quickly got over it as we enjoyed the photos and video that evening back in the room. It didn’t take long for either of us to pass out in front of the football game on TV.
Monday started out rainy and cooler – we put on waders and rain gear to provide extra warmth – glad I did – September in that part of the state can get cold – we joked how we could be standing in snow in 2 weeks up there. But the gray skies made the visibility better – I had vowed to fish hard and deliberate that day. I couldn’t match my partner’s casts for distance, but I soon learned that the distance didn’t matter. Within the first hour as I was stripping that yellow streamer from the weed edge through the deepest part of the river, not 10 feet from the boat, I saw the fish come up from the depths , look at my offering, and turn – first away (keep stripping, keep stripping!) then back and accelerate towards it. Thwack! I yanked at the fly line and felt the fish shake its head and the hook was home. It didn’t take long to get the bastard to the net – photo stills and an underwater video of the release completed the deal. I was done – the rest was gravy. We had many additional opportunities that day followed, both of us with swings and misses – even strikes on large poppers along the banks. These monsters truly required work and JR and I both felt that we had done our fair share over those two days. My shoulders and elbows were paying the price, but I had gotten the fish I had been dreaming of for years, on my terms, on the fly, on a river of immense beauty and solitude. What more could I ask for? I had gotten that muskie off my back.
Check out the short musky_clip for additional highlights!