Musky have permanently destroyed my mind. I am now lost. Here are some of the monstrosities in prep for a new season.
City living is something I have accepted for 23 years now. Most of you have been or like me live in or close to slumville. Too many people crammed into a small area, loud vehicles, trash on the roads, convenience stores posted on each corner. For those of you wake up to remote country, free of suburbia slums please disregard this post.
It’s starting to warm up locally, the water is thawing out, and I’m ready to get some tail. In my slum we are blessed with some stealer water, and I’m taking full advantage this week. Northern Pike are on the move and so am I. I can honestly say the coolest aspect of city limit fishing is the exploration. Some scum lined canal that kicks out thug largemouth. A creek tail out under a bridge, lined with old pipe and shopping carts that reveals massive carp. The passing traffic looks at you like your a nut, and you smile. Bomb another loop into the sweet water that nobody evens considers. Slum nation.
Cold. Snow. March is on the lag lately, and cold weather is keeping us all down. Insanity comes and goes for everyone, you can try and stand by your stance on not being crazy but we are all crazy. Some of us hid this wonderfully, and others not so much. I’m a fifty fifty type dude. Last season I was wet wading local inland lakes watching the thug largemouths pursue a streamer to my feet. This year at the same time they are calling for snow. I’ve had a rough winter, and have had to question my sanity many times while sitting at my desk covered in bucktail and drooling tobacco. Winter in Michigan is long, and down here in the southeast we don’t have much for fish able water in the cold. There is something these guys do occasionally…..they sit on buckets and drill holes into the frozen lake. Ice fishing…sigh. I used to ice fish, then I started tying flies and searching for steelhead. Now I don’t ice fish, or search for steelhead much. I tie and drink, tie and drink, tie and sleep. Repeat for 4 months. Watch the powder fall, scrape the car windows, slide sideways on the road, and dream of wet wading. Tying is the only thing I can do to keep a wild mind at bay. Tying allows me to be on my favorite tailout, slowly working a clouser along the rock and wood while the bronze beauty hangs below.. It allows me to be on the bow with 60 foot of 350 circled around my sun burnt toes, ready to haul a fly that resembles roadkill, hoping the massive 4 foot beast coasts behind it. I can picture this fly wedged in the gumball mouth of a golden scaled giant as I hoist it into the sunlight and scream at the top of my lungs. It allows me to dream, to remember every life changing take and jump I managed in the past. The creations roll off the vise, each one brings me right back to sanity. It’s somewhat scary how easy it is to waste hours locked in on the desk, spinning, threading, and dreaming. The flies seem to come out slightly better now than the did when I started, but the reasons for sitting here at this desk are still the same. It’s the dream, the hope, and the racing heart beat when I finally tail my scaled opponent. Sane or not, I am all for this.
I finally found some time to kick back and bring some goods from our adventure to northern WI in search of the dragon. Aka the Muskellunge. Departing metro Detroit is always a good thing, add in quick UP stops and you get all around goodness. The drive was peaceful, leaving at 10pm has it’s perks. After crossing the gateway to heaven (THE MACKINAW BRIDGE) we made a stop for some health food, and after the gas station breakfast sandwiches, rockstars, and grizzly wintergreen were in our systems we ran quickly up to Munising. We had the day to explore one of my favorite hangouts in mitten, Pictured rocks national lakeshore. It was 5am when we reached the trailhead, and after a short nap, we made our way in the backcountry.
Words don’t accurately describe this spot well, but I assume pictures might help. Next we made our way to visit one of the homies who is privileged enough to call Marquette his home. Couple of pints, and we said our goodbyes and made the rest of the journey to the promise land where the dragons awaited us. The UP and northern WI are true wilderness, and I can say in our 5 hours across we had encounters with maybe 3 dozen whitetail deer. Cool at first, but after several more, they became rather spooky. After a hard ass hauling session and a couple cans of cancer we had finally made it. Unfortunately it was way later then I had planned, and our host had retired. Unsure of what to do, and not having cell service lead to another night asleep upright in an automobile. In the morning a rap on the side glass brought me to life, and a few laughs were had on our sleeping arrangements. The first day was killer, a double float on a prime strip of water. About an hour into it, and the rookie of the trip hooks up a stellar fish. I was dumbfounded, as it took me nearly 50 hours of water time to hook and land a Musky. After some hero shots, and congratulations, we told my buddy the rookie to not expect anymore fish because one does not catch musky on their first outing. Never. You should give up and find another hobby, golf, painting, etc. The comical part is we only raised one more fish that day, J-carter and myself blanked. That’s right….BLANKED. The other boat managed three fish, two what we dubbed as micros (sub 25 inch ) and a super healthy mid 30s.
Day two is to be left unspoken. We floated another section with one boat, and found only micro Pike. That is truly a blessing because another day with multiple Musky to the fly would have spoiled my mind forever. Musky fishing is work, plain and simple. You go out, cast until your shoulder explains to you how it’s not designed for this type of work, your stripping hands aches, and your ego…well you get it. After a night of tying, two hearted ale, and sad faces we retired hoping tomorrow would bring joy. Day 3 was on another stretch of water from the the same river we fished on day one and we were praying for dragon playtime. I had gone two days without a Musky, and the long journey and chance of not landing a fish weighed on my mind. About an hour of float time and it happens. Not for me, but for our newbie counterpart “again”. An enormous wake, and he’s hooked up in the front of the boat! Only this time it’s no mid grade, it’s a true dragon. I managed to tail her safely, and wow what a fish. The first of the trip to turn 40. My friend smiles to no end, photos are snapped, and she is safely returned into the current. SUCCESS!
He is subjected to the oars for the rest of the day, and we carry on hoping for more adrenaline rushed hookups. I stay in the back of the boat, and place a cast into a downed limb, and see a fish take after a few strips, boom, finally happened. It’s an honest micro, maybe 24 at best, but a MUSKY regardless. After the release, we continue down, and I eye up a promising boulder tailout, and hope Carter doesn’t. I get lucky and he passes and takes a cast to the opposite bank, and I manage a decent landing within a foot or so of my target. Then it happens, about 10 feet from my fly the water explodes, and I make two hard strips. Connected! A savage eat, followed by two massive jumps, and I put my best fish to date in hand. My heart beats out of my chest, and my mind does backflips as I cradle and photo one of the most beautiful fish I have ever seen. She is safely released and I am quite possibly the happiest man on earth. The rest of the day makes more sense, and goes back to normal musky pace which means it was fishless. The last day in WI and we are ready for anything, but it is time for J Carter to have his shot. As we depart from the put in, we cross under a bridge, and I have my fly dragging 10 feet from the back of the boat while fixing a knot. I look back only to see my rod dip, and watch a smaller fish side swipe my fly. Any Musky lost is a buzzkill, but catching one without working would have been pleasant. Not respectable, but pleasant. An hour in and Carter boats a micro fish that is beautiful. Now we all have a fish on the board! Not long after he boats another fish, and offers to take the oars. We drift into another promising section and I spot my target water again hoping Chris who is up front doesn’t. I cast into the bank and watch the fly come down into the deeper water, when a fish flairs and eats within 20 foot of the boat. After a strong battle, I tail her in the shallows, and we tape out. Another big fish, right under 40. The day carries on and Jordan boats 2 more micros. After goodbyes and boat adjustments we make our way back out to the concrete and onward to Detroit. Thanks goes out to my newly found homie Jordan for putting us up and on fish. Many of the Musky shots are courtesy of J Carter Trip. success.
Up and off to musky country, in search of the ghost. 700 mile trip starts this week, we will make our way through the upper peninsula, into northern Wisconsin. A week of musky, cheap grade alcohol, ramen noodles. Perfect fit for my dirt sleeping, water seeking lifestyle. Lookout!
Totally insane. Wicked eats from some mongo fish, these guys must actually like hurricanes. Pumps me up for the next adventure down to salt.