Sunday, June 19, 2011

Musky Opener 2011

Musky ninja rockin' the Saber!
Kevin was concerned about the weather. “Are these fronts coming in going to screw up the fishing?” I wasn’t worried. Musky fishing is musky fishing weather be damned. Sometimes it messes with you, sometimes it works in your favor, but either way, the only way you are going to catch a musky is to be on the river with your fly in the water.

Kevin started off the day tossing a 9 weight rod with an unweighted streamer. Beautiful fly tied by Pike Master Dave Lindsay that got Kevin into his first musky last year. Here is the re-cap of that event: Kevin had been working hard to get into a fish. He had been having a lot of trouble with putting the fly into trees and snags. We got to this big log jam that had a lot of debris on it and a perfect cast put the fly right at the edge of the debris. Kevin promptly announces “$%@& I am snagged” as I watch the line move through the water. He then realizes he has a fish and starts getting excited. After a good fight, Kevin gets up on the bank to land the fish. He is visibly shaking. It is a big fish- over 40”. As soon as he removes tension from the line the fly drops out of the fish’s mouth and takes off. No picture. For Kevin it means no musky (even though it is all on video). He has a truly stunned look on his face. This event has haunted him for the past year.
Musky fodder.

I have to admit, I wasn’t feeling the unweighted fly. The water was in the mid 60’s and I had a feeling the fish would not be super aggressive with streamers. We switched to my Pike Saber with a heavy streamer. Kevin got a follow, right up to the boat. The whole canoe was shaking from Kevin’s excitement. It was a nice fish. We went to the edge to give Kevin a minute to calm down and I got out the Redington Predator rod that was rigged with a diver to see if that would interest this fish (which seemed interested, but non committal). That was indeed the case. It came out looking at the fly but would not take. But Kevin stuck with that fly and set up.

We got to a stretch which looks fishy, I have seen the occasional fish in, but never caught anything there. Kevin has a good cast under some overhanging brush and he exclaims “A fish!”. A good fish is after the fly. I coached him on- “pop it, let it sit, pop it, let it sit- POP IT POP IT!!!” She was following and opening her mouth, very interested, but not ready yet. Those last two fast pops were too much for the fish and she hammered the fly. Very impressive to see a big fish hit topwater 15 feet from the boat. 
Congrats Kevin! Gorgeous fish- and relief from your nightmare!

Kevin initially was more concerned about getting the line on the reel than playing the fish but I got that changed quickly. The Predator worked great as a fish fighting tool. She jumped a bunch and made some good runs. I had to lock down the drag for Kevin. I had a 16 lb leader on there and I knew he could put plenty of pressure on the fish. The last part of the fight took place out of the canoe. When she started to roll on her back I knew it was over. I had never used a Boga on a musky before, but I had a good feeling about making it a lot easier to handle them. Kevin was very pleased about that. It was a gorgeous fish. We didn’t tape it, but I think it went easily 42” or so. After a few pictures the fish swam away. Kevin wore a look of awe and relief. The nightmare he lived for the past year was over.
Like a kid in a candy store...
The business end

Tossing a streamer. I need to lose some weight...

Saber caught musky!
I took the deck. I took the deck for a long time too. Kevin wanted me to get a fish before switching out again. I had a slashing strike on my streamer from a smaller fish, then a non-committal follow, and another non-committal, and another and another… I was losing faith. I saw a musky in the midst of a school of suckers and tossed into them. I had a take but no hook set. That made me feel better, but I wanted a fish. Then I put the fly in front of a branch hanging in the water and the game was on. The Pike Saber was tossing this big streamer beautifully and I knew it was more than up to the task of landing this fish. Big weighted streamers had always been a good choice on this water and this proved it once again. The fish came to hand pretty quickly. It was a nice fish in the low 30” range. It went back after a quick photo shoot. Kevin on deck again.
Kevin breaks 40"- look at the pride in his face!

The wind started to pick up and it was getting tough to paddle. Keeping the boat in a place a fly caster can put the fly in spots they need to go in tight quarters can be tough at the best of times but when you add 20 mph winds it gets to be a real bear. Kevin was doing his best to get the fly where it needed to be and I was doing all I could to keep him on track to do it. Tight, tight quarters made it difficult. There are times that there is a channel only 20 feet wide between the trees to get a cast into. I was busy fighting the wind as he fished.

Then Kevin did it!  Finally, he broke the 40” mark! Under 40” that is. And he did it in spectacular fashion. That next fish was a one hander. Maybe 20”. All that mattered to me is that I got to fish again.
Count Muskula

The wind was still howling and I had a solid take but it disappeared as quickly as I felt it. We hit this big log jam that always looks great but has never produced anything beyond bass. This time was different. A good fish followed out from the front of it. Then Kevin and I were talking about how the logs in the back were the same as last year. This is where I tried to sit down on a log, it dumped me, ripped my shirt open, scratched my back up nicely, and put me under the water. Just after saying “That is where it happened” BAM, a fish takes the fly hard. Two muskies in the jam this year!  

This fish was better than my first and it was a digger. It keep digging straight down and fighting hard. It did come up for a jump or two. Then it rolled the leader around itself. Then it was ready to come to hand. A little CPR (Catch, Photo, and Release) and the fish was off. A fast turnaround time- I was fishing less than 15 minutes and Kevin was back on deck. And I was fighting that wind again. Oh Joy. The rest of the day was uneventful, except of course for the bloody wind. I had to paddle directly into it for much of the last part of the day.
Last fish of the day. Great colors.

We got to our take out point and I managed to swamp Kevin in the back of the boat which lead to some laughter. It was a great day overall, even with the wind. Kevin’s concern about the front coming through never materialized. The fish weren’t hot and heavy, but there were a few players around. Not a bad start to musky season 2011.

 Post script- I had video rolling for much of this so expect some cool musky vids soon!

1 comment:

  1. Good fish. congratulations!