Musky Fun In The Fall
By Craig Sandell © 2007

It was 4:30 in the morning and my good friend Rob Meusec and I were rattling around my trailer at Indian Trail Resort as we prepared to hit the water on this rainy overcast September day. September is a great month for Musky fishing. The summer heat becomes a memory, the water temperature begins to plummet and the heavier clothes come out of storage as the trees sport their colorful apparel.

Rob and I were entered in the Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Tournament and this was the second day of the event. Day one was a “skunk” day for us but it was good to be on the water doing what Musky anglers do.

As we drank our coffee and donned our rain gear, we discussed where a Musky might grace us with a little action. The day before, I had a dance card for us that covered productive water with minimal scooting around. I told Rob that I had good confidence in yesterday’s dance card even though we did not have any action and I suggested that we give those locations another try. Rob agreed, and with a plan in hand we set off for the boat so we could be on our first spot at the start of the tournament day at 6:00 am.

As we crept up on our first spot, the light of day was beginning to break. We were early so we took the time to double check our lines, re-tie as needed, and make our lure selections. We were poised on a large bar that ranged in depth from 11 feet to 2 feet so we had lots of options for lure selection. The overcast, rainy and relatively calm wind conditions made surface baits, bucktails and twitching crank baits all good choices.

As 6:00 am rolled around, we began our slow troll from the 11 foot edge up toward the more shallow areas of the bar where weeds were in evidence. Even though the water on the Chippewa Flowage was down about 24 inches, we could still fish over the top of the weeds on this particular bar. Rob elected to toss a small black Skimmer with a green blade and I put on a black and yellow Best American Topper.

As we fished our way into the shallows, the persistent drizzle was almost refreshing in the mid-60 degree temperature. I commented to Rob that I had had success on this bar in these conditions throwing a yellow surface lure and that I felt good about our chances to produce a fish. Rob chided me with a friendly comment: “I have heard that before.”

We were now about 50 minutes into working over this spot and Rob began to bulge his Skimmer over the weeds that populated the shallower water. I tossed my topper toward the edge of the weed line and began my retrieve when I felt a slight resistance on the lure. It could have been a weed or the characteristic nip of a small mouth bass…I just kept the lure coming at the slow methodical pace that is encouraged by so many good Chippewa Flowage fishermen. A couple more cranks of the reel and a Musky was all over the lure. I set the hook and the water foamed as the Musky sought to make his get away.

The Musky went down as it charged the boat and it was all I could do to kept the line tight. Rob’s line was in and he had the net at the ready being careful not to get in the middle of the tussle. The boat was moving toward deeper water, which was just fine with me, when I got my first good look at this fish. He had a lot of beef to him with nice big shoulders. I could see him under the surface violently shaking his head from side to side in an attempt to break loose from the 3/0 Owner Stinger treble hooks. The Musky was still pretty fresh as he came to the surface with head thrashing and gills flared.

I pushed my rod tip down into the water in an effort to keep him from rocketing skyward. He stripped line from my reel as he led me around the boat a couple of times.

All this time, Rob was at the ready with the net waiting for the opportune moment to scoop up this scrapping Musky. I finally got some control over the fish and led him into the waiting arms of my fishing partner…there is no substitute for a good net man. Rob calmly put the net in the water and in an instant the fight was over.

As I starting working to free the hooks from the Musky, Rob got on the radio and called for the judge boat because there wasn’t another boat anywhere that could witness the fish for the tournament paper work.

When the Judge boat arrived, the fish was ready to come out of the net for a measurement and some photos. The Musky was 40½ inches and I was hopeful that it would be enough to place in the top 10. (As it turned out I placed 9th.)

With the measurements, photos and paper work completed, it was over the side for my Musky friend. It took a while to get him to swim off on his own but he eventually wagged his tail as he moved off into deeper water.

Rob and I put the boat back in order and prepared to move to the next spot on the dance card…One heck of an adventure.