Sunday, January 8, 2017

Almost a Year

Over the past two years, most of my fly fishing has been for musky, which has been a series of trials and tribulations. This winter, I had high hopes of fooling a few good specimens in our not so target rich environment. Time was spent with only a few follows and an early November eat that fueled a few more long days of casting and paddling on the river. My lack of success forced me to take a day trip to a creek that has produced for me before. I hoped to not go an entire year without landing a musky and I had a feeling with a new moon and rapidly dropping barometric pressure that my stars had aligned.

I woke up at 3:00, drove almost three hours to my destination and put the kayak in the river via head lamp. I paddled 3.3 miles upriver with a strobe light on my head so I wouldn't get shot by waterfowl hunters. After arriving at my predetermined destination, I had an eat on my second cast. Over the previous year, I had one eat over an uncountable amount of hauls, strips, and figure eights. The cast was a little too long, the eat occurred on my second strip, and my strip set failed to account for the small belly in my line. One head shake and the small fish tossed my t-bone away.

What followed was a great day for my measly musky standards. Almost a dozen follows, four eats, two hookups, one landed. I worked a hundred yard stretch and was able to experiment with angles, flies, color, wiggle tails, and lines. The highlight came when I added a wiggle tail to a fly I was fishing and proceeded to make my fly jackknife through the run at a high rate of speed. In the depths, a mid-forties fish crushed it. It was a good hookup and the fish thrashed off the end of my SUP and made one intense run, but I didn't let her go anywhere. I bent awkwardly to unlock and unfold my Stowmaster with one hand, while the other attempted to maintain a good connection with the ski. The split second my mind went from musky to frustration with my net, the musky popped off. I was a little pissed at losing a personal best, but I still had the afternoon and eventually made it happen with the healthy specimen below. This time, the net was already out and at my feet for an easy scoop. 

A little guy, but I was pumped. 

In between musky sessions, I spent many a winter evening at the vice, tinkering with musky flies of all shapes and sizes. I played around a lot with Blane Chocklett's Mega Game Changer concept and tried my best to replicate his patterns. Although not fishable, I tried to replicate a white sucker, complete with fins from Pat Cohen. I was pleased with the results, but eventually just cut the fins off and added a few feather style fins. 

The MGC flies are awesome and swim great. I'll never forget my first follow on one. It was February and the water temperature was 35 degrees. It was evening and a front was approaching. After a long day on the water without a sighting, my fast two handed stripping of the MGS produced a knee shaker of a pure. She rapidly appeared out of the glare and before I could respond and dance her into the eight, my cold hands fumbled, my fly stalled, and the moment was lost. Adam and I woke up early on the trip, made a several hour drive through a snow storm, fished all day in freezing rain and sleet, and didn't see anything. I had one chance and completely messed it up. That is musky fishing for you...

Messing around with Blane Chocklett's mega game changer concept. 

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