The Musky Diary Strikes…Again
By Craig Sandell © 2010

This June day, my good friend Rob Meusec and I set out for a Musky adventure on the Chippewa Flowage. I had been fishing the Chip for about a week waiting for Rob to join me and I felt that I had some good spots with high potential. So, when Rob arrived, I had a ‘dance card’ ready to go.

Plans are all well and good, but the weather may have you wondering what and where to fish when it throws you a curve, as it so often does.

We had high skies and pleasant conditions in which to fish and the first day had us executing the dance card but without any fish in the boat…we did have a couple of blow ups and a couple of follows. What action we did have was an indicator that the fish were moving around and somewhat active.

The next day we awoke to the “blessing” of gusty winds out of the South in the 20 – 25 MPH range. We went to breakfast and discussed how we would approach the day. I told Rob that I had a spot that had been a fish producer for me in heavy wind with high skies.

As we headed out on the water and got a taste for the wind on the water, I told Rob that this was a bucktail kind of day…After a 15 minute boat ride, we were facing an open expanse of water with character.

Character? What the heck is that?

Water With CharacterWell, open water with character is that water that combines at least three ‘high percentage’ elements. High percentage elements might be sub-surface structure, adjacent deep water, irregular bottom depth and a main river channel. Of course, you have to combine that ‘character water’ with a likely weather pattern and water conditions as well as with a healthy fishery. Remember, you can fish prime locations all day long but if the fishery is only supporting 1 fish per 9 acres of water, your chances are far less than if the fishery is supporting 1 fish per six – nine tenths (.6 - .9 ) of an acre of water.

Here again, the key is knowing the water you are fishing. There is no substitute for some research, a good lake map, some knowledgeable advice and, of course, some luck.

The illustration shown here should provide some perspective on what to look for as you pound over a lake map in preparation for your Musky adventure. Notice that everything starts with the main river channel. Such channels in flowages or natural lakes are a kin to highways upon which all fish travel, including Musky. Add to that highway, the presence of islands and shorelines, varying contours and a sub-surface stump field and you have a truly high percentage spot (lots of character).

I set up the boat to take the best advantage of the wind, explaining to Rob that I was going to face the bow into the wind and troll against the wind to allow for a slow troll of our target area.

About the second cast, and after telling Rob that “if the lure stops, set the hook”, my bucktail stopped and I set the hook. The fish pulled back and took a deep run. The fight was on and Rob was working hard to get his lure in and get the net at the ready. Another run or two and the Musky was finally at the surface. I could see that the Owner hooks had done their job and the rest was up to me.

Anyone who has had a Musky on the line knows how hard it is to keep you wits about you.

After some reluctance, the fish was in the net and the job of a safe release for fish and angler became the business of the boat. I got my compound bolt cutter out and removed the treble points from the Owner hooks on the bucktail. As I organized my self, Rob got the camera ready for the fish to be taken out of the fin-saver net that had the fish still in the water.
I pulled the fish from the net and measured it at 38 inches. I displayed the fish for a couple of photos and then it was over the side for a release. I have released a lot of fish but for some reason, this fish got away from me before it could swim off on its own. I started the boat motor and caught up with the fish and helped it to get righted and then coaxed him to swim off, which he eventually did.

I turned to Rob and said that where there is one there is likely another (Something of which John Dettloff has convinced). We set up to continue to work the area and Rob put on a black skimmer with a green blade. We worked the area, using the wind to advantage our coverage of the water. It had been about 35 minutes since my fish was caught and we had covered the area pretty well.

I was getting ready to move on to another spot when I heard Rob calmly exclaim that he had a fish on. I got my lure in and prepared the net as Rob worked his fish. The fish did a sky jump attempting to free himself from the single Owner hook that had him attached to the skimmer. After a failed net attempt, I waited for Rob to bring the fish under control again so that I could accomplish the scoop that I had flubbed earlier…This time the fish was in the bag.
Rob went to work to free the fish from the lure and make the lure safe so he could safely take the fish from the net for a measurement and then release it. The fish measured in at 35 inches and with a picture or two in the camera, it was over the side for a flawless release.

Wow…what an adventure…two fish on the same spot within 45 minutes of each other. Rob and I were pumped, but in a daze of disbelief of the actual event, as we went back to Indian Trail Resort to register our fish, get our “I Got Mine” buttons and have a beer and a bump to celebrate.

This was an adventure that is a direct result of keeping a catch record. A fishing diary can be the best investment you can make to increase your chances on a body of water on which you regularly fish. Since 1989, I have been using a fishing diary for my fishing trips to the Chippewa Flowage.

Tight lines