By Craig Sandell © 2016

All through what seemed like the never ending grip of winter, Muskie anglers have been aching for the sound of open water lapping the shore lines of their favorite Muskie lake. During the off-season, hooks have been sharpened, lures have been repaired, tackle boxes have been reorganized and reels have been cleaned and tuned to pristine excellence…All this in preparation for that special moment when Muskie and angler meet.

Spring is a very interesting time of the season. As the water temperature creeps slowly from the 40’s toward the mid 50 degree spawning temperature, Muskie begin to shake off their winter trance as they look for a little "love" and a good meal.

Muskie anglers wait patiently for the opening of the season and when it finally happens, they are quick to join the hunt. On this early spring morning in June, I too took to the water to dip a line and put a little slime in the boat. This time of year the water temperature in the morning is usually warmer than the air giving rise to varying degrees of mist.

I slipped away from the dock at Indian Trail Resort just before the sun crept over the Eastern horizon and cleaned out the shoreline of the resort using only a trolling motor on very slow speed. This is a practice that is ignored by many Muskie anglers as they motor off to their favorite Chippewa Flowage Muskie water…sometimes the fish is as close as your own "front door".

The water temperature was up to a respectable 64 degrees and at that temperature every lure is a potential Muskie producer. Muskie anglers have had success with everything from plastics to surface lures.

Since I was covering the shallow shoreline, I decided to use a Best American Surf Master to emulate a small varmint patrolling the shoreline for an easy meal. I am a supporter of the concept of ‘matching the hatch’ as part of a hunt strategy and anyone who has fished in the early Spring has observed that behavior for the animals that make their living at or close to the shallows. The shallows are also the first place where emerging weeds will provide a Muskie ambush cover.

As I rounded the point of the resort shoreline heading toward Bay 1, I was getting ready to pull up the trolling motor and head on down the road. I thought to myself, "Just a cast or two more to be sure that I fished the shoreline clean". As the Surf Master hit the water, a Muskie exploded on it. In all honesty, I never had time to even set the hook. Lucky for me, the Muskie hit the lure and turned away from the boat rather than toward it…he actually set the hook on himself.

This was not a big fish but it was the first fish of the Muskie season. It hit about 15 feet from the boat and did a little dance on the water trying to dislodge the topper from its jaw. I kept the line tight and slowly coaxed the fish toward the boat to be netted. With rod in one hand and the net in the other, I performed the "dance of the lone Muskie angler" as I prepared to lead the Muskie into the net. The fish came up along side the boat and swaggered right into the waiting net.

I was pumped…The first fish of the season and within shouting distance of the dock. Leaving the fish in the net, I cut the hooks of the topper and prepared to measure and photograph my misty morning prize. It measured in at 32 inches…not a big fish but a nice way to start the season. After a picture or two the Muskie was back in the water and on its way.

I took a deep breath, rearranged the boat, pulled up the trolling motor and motored off into the what remained of the morning mist to see if the day had other Muskie adventures awaiting me…

Tight Lines