You Donít Always Need Weeds
By Craig Sandell © 2013

As the evening of September 1st, 2005 approached, I got myself ready to hit the water with my good friend John Dettloff. Besides being the owner of Indian Trail Resort, John is, in my opinion, the best Musky guide on the Chippewa Flowage.

Early that day, I boated a beefy 39 incher and I had the feeling that luck was with me as I checked the line on my rods, double checked the reel drag and re-sharpened the hooks on the lures that I would be using for the evening excursion on the waters of the Chippewa Flowage.

John and I hit the water about 7 pm. After a short boat ride, we set up to attack the inside edge of Church Bar with a bucktail and a surface bait. It is always a learning experience when I fish with John. Johnís approach to guiding is characterized by the imparting of copious amounts of information about each spot that is fished and even though I had fished this spot before, John provided me a new perspective on the structure.

We fished a couple more spots without any action and the evening twilight was beginning to ebb into darkness. We motored up to an area, the existence of which I knew, but seldom fished. The reason I seldom fished the spot was because I didnít feel that I knew it well enough to fish it clean. The spot is a large tabletop shelf that comes up out of 25í of water and tops out at 1-4 feet depending on the water level of the Chippewa Flowage.

I told John that I did not usually fish this spot because I didnít know how to line it up with tree line points of reference. (Because of the large amount of water on the Chippewa Flowage, most knowledgeable flowage fishermen use tree line references to help them line up on the spotsÖespecially those spots that have no visible structure.) I asked John how he lined up this spot and John said that he didnít have tree line referencesÖ"This is the kind of spot that you just know.", John said. I asked John if there were weeds on this shelf and John confided that it was as bald as a babyís bottom.

By this time, darkness had overcome the twilight and we prepared ourselves to fish the moonless water. We donned our headlamps and readied our fishing rods. John put on a globe and I put on a Best American Topper. There was a brisk southwesterly wind and John moved the boat into the wind using the back trolling motor.

It was on the second or third cast that I felt my lure abruptly stop ÖI set the hook and announced to John that I had a fish on. John reeled in his globe and made ready to net the fish when the time was right. The fish hit a good 20 feet from the boat and Johnís firm reminders to keep the line tight and the rod tip up echoed in my head as I fought the fish to the boat.

After about 5 minutes, the fish was close enough for us to get a glimpse of him as the light from our headlamps reflected off the body of the fish as it breached the surface. After a couple of trips around the boat, the fish was ready to net. As I led the fish toward John, he dipped the net in the water and then brought up the net to embrace the fish.

Both John and I were pumped. After a mutual howl and congratulatory hand shake, we set about the business of removing the lure from the fish, measuring the fish and getting a quick photo. The fish measured in at a stout 38 inches. John snapped a quick picture and then the fish was in the water and on its way to brighten the day of a future Musky angler.

John and I cleaned out the spot and then finished off the evening on Peteís Bar without seeing another fish.

Tight lines