-By Brandon Wikman
Yesterday I hosted one of the most physically and mentally draining film shoots I’ve ever participated in! Rod and reel action for one of the most elusive freshwater game fish in North America, the Muskellenge!
The only angler knowledge I have about Musky is that they are enormous and extremely difficult to fish for. Also known as, ‘the fish of 10,000 casts,’ or ‘freshwater king,’ the Musky prevailed by living up to its name!
I met with my good friend Al who guides fishing trips on Castle Rock Lake, which is only a few miles from my house. I showed up with a fishing license, sunscreen and a bottle of water, not to mention an empty understanding of how to fish these monsters of the depth. Thanks to Al’s wise and savvy experience when it comes to Musky fishing, he set me up with poles, lures and everything else a rookie would need.
We began fishing at 5am. The sunbursts trickled from the horizon and beamed rays onto the glassy lake. A picturesque seen was captured and instilled in my memory from that moment on. It was so breathtaking; I truly felt that it made the entire trip! We trolled our way into a small bay, which is where we’d try our luck out first. Al handed me a pole that reminded me of something I’d be using for deep-sea fishing. The pole felt like a javelin, jutting out past the boat by several feet. The fishing line was extremely strong and thick! It was as if I could use the line to pull a car out of the ditch type of thick! Lastly, the lures. Some of the lures Al pulled from his tackle box were as large as the biggest fish I’ve ever caught! A mess of treble hooks sported these log-like chunks of wood, decorated with stripes, colors and patterns. I was beginning to realize what this Musky fishing was all about.
My first cast not-so-gracefully plunked near a cluster of lily pads. A gigantic splash rippled the vegetation outward as my rock-like lure sunk into the water. I struggled a bit to crank the lure in as I soon realized how much physical strength it took to muscle these bad boys in. If I were to describe the feeling, it was like flinging out a brick and reeling back an umbrella.
Cast-after-cast, we eased by weed and tree structure hoping to find a willing fellow. Al explained that Musky are lazy fish. They will hide in rock rubble, weeds, and any other structure that camouflages them from smaller fish. We anticipated catching one of these fish in a few small timeframe windows throughout the day that proved good from previous experience. Early morning, mid-day, and evening were our best chances of hooking one in the lip.
By noon, my back became as stiff as a Suick lure and wrist about as fragile as an ancient rod, ready to snap at any given time. The hot and humid temperatures didn’t help the situation one bit. We fished several spots, hoping to get a follow-up or at least a bite, but had no luck.
The hours tallied quickly and soon it was dusk. A thousand casts later; I sat down and sighed as the sun began sinking into the watery horizon. All day without a bite, lure follow-up, or Musky sighting, I was exhausted beyond all means. The mental energy and physical endurance to stay focused was near impossible. Time after time, reeling back a lure full of weeds wasn’t what I was hoping for, but it surely gave me an appreciation for Musky anglers. The efforts set forth Musky fishing are great, but the ending results are slim. Yet, it’s the challenge we seek that rids our soul to never give up. It’s that unforgiving feeling of wanting to accomplish the ultimate feat that drives fisherman to venture out day-after-day. I now have a better understanding of what every Musky angler seeks, and that is the chance to net one of the most unpredictable fish in the water. Musky are truly the giant whitetail bucks of the water.