I noted last week that spring was in full swing and I would be in the field as much as possible taking advantage of it. That has been true and I have some turkey hunting stories to tell. . . .
Before I get to that, you know I have been on the water this spring, literally went right from ice-fishing to open-water fishing, but I have not posted any fishing updates for a few weeks. You also know that I like to fish for a variety of species of fish, and target different species at different peak times throughout the year. That is the best strategy for staying on a good bite all year long. My son and I definitely target big fish, big fish of a variety of species, all the time, and at times target the biggest predator fish that swim our waters. All of those big predators are awesome creatures!
Spring and fall we spend some time targeting muskies every year; usually leave them alone during the heat of the summer when the water is warm and they do not need any additional stress from being hooked and landed.
Unfortunately, we have been in a big muskie slump for quite some time now.
It is getting real old.
Oh sure, muskies are known as the fish of 10,000 casts. That is because they are apex, top-of-the-food-chain predators and sitting at that pinnacle they are never abundant anywhere they swim. Simply put, you have to earn muskies, earn every one of them. That is the frustration of muskie fishing, you know you have to work for them, but at some point you really expect your efforts to be rewarded. How far is that point?
I would tell you that one reason muskies have a reputation for being impossible to catch is because many anglers just ain’t doing it right. There are a lot of things you can do to reduce the number of casts to somewhere south of 10,000. But, how does one confidently and continually fish for such a rare fish with very little encouragement or re-enforcement that they are doing things right? The conundrum of muskie fishing is that you have to keep pitching big baits out there with little or no indication that you are doing it right.
Now you know why muskie anglers get so excited about just seeing a muskie follow one of their baits. Even then comes the nagging second-guessing about how that follow could have been converted into a hook-up.
Where to start? Well, fish waters where muskies are present. Duh. Then have an understanding of what prey those big predators are eating; after all, they are the ultimate predator fish, and predation is what drives their location and behavior all of the time except during the spawn. Continual bait-switching is NOT a way to reduce the number of casts required to catch a muskie. No, rotating through every bait in the box reeks of non-confidence. Figure out the right tool, bait, that will fish in front of the muskies and then keep it there as long as possible! Eventually, when they are ready to eat, your bait will be in front of them.
It is that simple.
And that hard.
My son and I have been waiting a darned long time now for it to happen, again.
It will. It is only a matter of time!
At least I got to spend some time fishing with my cousin this spring, and was with him when he caught a nice muskie. I was close by and watching Robin as he cast and reeled. I could tell his lure stopped. Initially, he was not sure if he had a fish or a snag. I knew, right away I knew, he had a fish, a muskie, a big muskie. I dropped my rod and grabbed the net!
Robin played the fish like a pro. I was honored to put the Frabill in the water and net her for him.
Forty-five and a half inches, a beautiful fish! Robin and I have fished together for a long, long time, since we were kids. We have been together on days when creek chubs were our prized catch. I believe this was the biggest fish we have ever caught together.
No, I did not catch her, but it was still a thrill to be there and play net-man and picture-man for my cousin. It is always a thrill just to be in the presence of a muskie, even better I got to be there with my cousin for this one!
And good enough that I got to release her!
That will do.