I've caught pike and I've caught muskies, but never the in-between. This needed fixed! So to the lake we headed. We got all settled in at our campsite, then we got down to business. It quickly became obvious that the lake was packed full of tiny bass and some decent perch. The kids and I entertained ourselves by giving about 300 of them sore lips, while the wife got some much needed R&R. They ranged in size from about yay:
to about so:
|This little lady is more the ballerina type than the outdoors type, but she's really getting the hang of this fishing thing, and she routinely out-fishes her older sister and I - much to our dismay!|
As for the big-boy fishing, I planned on trying for a musky for a few hours Friday night and Saturday morning, mostly when the girls were sleeping. After all, family camp-outs are no fun if you don't spend them with your family! However my Friday night fishing almost didn't happen. The wind really kicked up in the afternoon, which is a problem since I was planning on paddling out there in my little inflatable pontoon boat. I'm not too crazy about kicking around in whitecaps, and it's a real pain to stay in position long enough to actually fish when it's windy. I tried to wait it out, but it didn't look too good. Then with about an hour of daylight left, the wind subsided JUST a hair, so I ventured out. Just upwind from our campsite was a big island which blocked the wind, and the lee side of it was pretty calm so that's where I headed. A couple minutes' paddle later I was almost within range of the corner of the island, so I fired-at-will as they say.
I made a couple test casts, just getting used to the feel of the big Vibrax bucktail. Everything seemed to be in good working order so I began to fin my way towards some fishier looking lies. However, about half way through my third cast the lure stopped dead, so I set it. I felt weight but not much else at first, so I thought it was maybe some weeds or moss, but then I felt the big and slow head shakes of something that was definitely not moss.
Surely it had be a big bass though. It couldn't happen just like that could it? If the musky was the fish of 10,000 casts, I still had 9,997 to go! I've failed at catching a tiger many times before so to be honest I was prepared for and maybe even half expecting another skunk. And yet, here I was attached to something massive midway through my third cast! Heck, I hadn't even gotten to the spot I was planning to fish yet!
I applied as much pressure as I deemed appropriate for my 10 lb Maxima, and whatever it was began to come closer. As it did, It became more and more obvious that it was no bass, and the closer it got, the angrier it seemed to become. After pulling me in a couple circles and giving my drag a workout, he drew near and I knew I would soon see what I had tied into.
By this point I pretty much knew it was a tiger. The only question was, how big was it? I was not prepared for the answer to that question. The fish finally broke the surface in a half-jump five feet from me - teeth first. I
|Something wicked this way comes...|
A minute or two later, I arrived. The fishermen on the dock gave me some very confused looks as I motor boated backwards past them towards the boat ramp, but they gave some very satisfying shouts of wonder when they saw what I was towing. I felt much safer landing it there in the shallows with my feet beneath me, and I was glad somebody else was there to take pictures. My children were very impressed. Earlier that day while driving to the lake I had been twirling the blade around on my spinner, and they asked me how any fish could possibly fit such a huge lure in its mouth. They now understood.
|The colors are washed out in this picture, but you can see the girth (of the fish...) better.|
I didn't have a tape with me, so I don't know exactly how long it was, but I sort of managed to measure it against my arm. With the tip of its under bite even with the ends of the fingers of my left hand, the tail went clear across my chest all the way to my right armpit. I measured that when I got home, and it's right about 45 inches. But whatever the measurement was, I don't really care. It was a true monster to me, and I'm still shaking a little from it! I'll be surprised if this isn't my favorite fish of the year. It'll be a tough one to beat!
I called it a night after that, with the satisfaction that for once the big one didn't get away. It did take a while for the adrenaline to wear off enough to go to sleep though. The next morning I was out the tent and on the water by 4:00, but all I had to show for my efforts were some overly ambitious little bass. Apparently a musky every three casts was a lofty goal, but it was fun while it lasted!