A New Face for the Musky Angler

By: Craig Sandell © 2020


Tradition Equals SuccessDirty, odiferous, un-kept and obsessed…all descriptions of the Muskie angler on the prowl for this fresh water shark. We have all seen him…up before dawn and stumbling his way down to the dock, poles and tackle box in hand. Setting out from the dock, his boat is consumed by the morning mist as he makes his way to the place where Muskie are found.

Now, some would find this description of the dedicated Muskie angler almost ‘romantic’. Truth be told, however, there is a high price paid by the Muskie angler for this narrowly focused pursuit of this single tenacious species…a price that is not only financial, but physical and emotional as well.

Each year there has been a change in what has come to be known as the ‘typical’ Muskie angler. I noticed the change at Muskie Shows over the past few years. You are no longer fighting your way through the isles at Musky shows. The crush of Musky anglers has dwindled to a relative trickle a bit each year and they are somewhat better dressed, there are father/son duos and they seem to be more interested in finding someone who could put them on to a fish rather than discovering the tactics and methods that would allow them to find their own quarry.

Is this an aberration? No...Muskie shows in Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota enforce the observation. What changed? Everything has changed. Today the ‘instant gratification’ syndrome of society has made its way to Muskie angling and with that attitude has emerged a new perception of the Muskie angling sport.

Muskie are no longer exclusive to the Northern latitudes and can be found all across America. The modern Muskie angler is more disposed to ‘stay in his own backyard’ than to travel hundreds of miles to fish unless he can be ‘guaranteed’ a Muskie. Traditional Muskie resorts all over Wisconsin are seeing a change in their clientele from Muskie anglers to families on vacation. Fishing pressure for Muskie has, consequently, fallen off sharply.

To traditional Muskie anglers like myself, this is great…less competition on the water…less boat traffic in traditional Muskie areas and a more relaxed approach to the hunt. But what about the future? Will the sport of Muskie angling be relegated to the same category as deep sea marlin fishing, where day fishermen are willing to spend money to have someone ‘catch them a fish’ rather than learn how to do it themselves…not likely...not in this or any economy.

What is more likely is that this ‘modern Muskie angler’ will evolve into someone who used to fish for Muskie or someone who joins the ranks of other dedicated Muskie anglers who have come to realize that there is no ‘magic bullet’ to being successful at Muskie angling.

To all of you who are trying out the adventure that is Muskie angling…WELCOME! I would, however, submit to you that although the thrill of having a Muskie on the line is exhilarating, the thrill of actually planning a hunt, executing that plan and catching a Muskie that you discovered is an experience that will enrich you all your life.

I’ll see you on the water.