It’s been awhile since our last blog, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had any good stories since we last wrote. In fact, the highlight of the year came back in October, when an ordinary musky float turned into one of the most memorable days I’ve ever had on the water.
For those of you that have spent time doing the whole musky on the fly thing, you know that it requires a lot of time, effort and patience with limited results. A day where the group lands one fish is a big accomplishment, and success is often defined by how many fish you “move” or “interact” with, not necessarily catch. Even though I’m new to the musky game, I have put in enough time to understand the grind, only having boated 2 fish total in dozens of hours on the water.
This past October, Abigail and I met my buddy Landon at a river in northern Wisconsin to float a section that I had scouted on maps, but never fished. The morning started out dreary with some light rain—we had a fishy feeling, and were cautiously optimistic. However, the optimism faltered slightly when we got to the boat landing and saw a dead skunk floating in the water. Hoping this wasn’t a sign we were about to be “skunked” during the next 8 hours of fishing, we slid the drift boat into the water and began floating downstream.
As the caption should, I started in the rower’s seat with Landon taking the front and Abigail in the back. Less than a mile down river, we came across a rock jutting out into the water causing a nice eddy to form behind it. “That looks like a musky home,” I said to Landon as he cast his big red fly into the slack water. Within two strips of his line, a musky blew up the surface of the water and Landon was connected. We landed the fish with little trouble, snapped a few pics and watched the beast swim back into the river. With the boat landing still in sight, I joked that the day was already made and we should just row back and be done. I’m glad we didn’t though…
Having just caught a fish, Landon offered to take over the rowing duty and I replaced him in the front of the boat. Not more than an hour later, as I was retrieving my fly from a cast towards a deep bank, a musky came up and crushed it. Somewhat taken by surprise, I did my best to bury the hook and began to battle what was appearing to be a very solid fish. After what was maybe a minute-long dog fight with this musky, Landon was able to get it into the net. There have been very few times in my life that I remember being that stoked. I was in fishing heaven as I stared into the net at what was clearly over a 40” fish. After a few quick pictures, the fish decided that it was ready to go back and left my grip. All the time that I had put in had finally paid off with a quality river musky. I was so happy.
As we got things situated and I came down from cloud 9, I offered to row the rest of the way and told Abigail she should fish the front. The chances of another fish weren’t great, but the way the day had gone so far, you couldn’t be too sure what else was in store. No lie, an hour or so after I had caught my fish, the day was about to get amped up even more. Approaching another solid-looking spot, Abigail cast her single hooked, pink fly into the water and almost immediately a fish boiled at it. Two strips later, Abigail had a musky at the end of her line, but this one was different. As she brought the fish closer to the boat I saw it turn and leaned back to Landon and said in a quiet voice, “Dude, this fish is BIG.” Landon quickly moved up to take over the rowing (we were still floating down river) and I grabbed the net. As the fish approached netting distance it became evident that it would be a tight fit, but thankfully I was able to scoop the fish in the center of its body and fit it into the net. The three of us went nuts. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. Not one, not two, but three big muskies all landed within just a few hours of each other and all on flies that we had tied.
We rowed the boat over to shore and took a few pictures of the river dragon that made the fish Landon and I caught earlier look simply average. I didn’t have a bump board and didn’t want to flop the fish in my boat or on the shore, so unfortunately, we didn’t’ get a strong measurement of its length, but we did get a good girth measurement at 23”.
After that, we fished for maybe an hour with no more action, we decided we couldn’t ask for anything more and rowed the rest of the way to the takeout while replaying each fish over and over. I hope to land many more musky in the future, but I have a hard time believing this day will be topped any time soon. It was a memory that will last forever.