Musky fishing can be extremely thrilling, adventurous, challenging, and heartbreaking all at the same time. If you’re a musky angler, then you certainly understand and have experienced these feelings. Another word I enjoy using to explain musky fishing is – chaotic. Yep, that’s right…. chaotic! You might be wondering why. Well, let’s think about this equation: two musky anglers + one dog + a bunch of gear + one canoe + a river = what??? If your answer is chaotic, then you are correct! I would like you to think about this equation as you read through the story of my first topwater musky.
If you follow along on my fishing adventures via social media, (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) you know I had a successful evening on the water last week while fishing with a few friends, Kaitlin and Emily. We made plans to get on the water around 3:00 pm and to fish until dark. Emily had her kayak, and I fished out of a canoe with Kaitlin and her dog, Kimber. The current was steady and quite fast in certain areas, which took some adjusting at first. As we fished, we decided to stop a few times to stretch our legs, cast into slack water, and enjoy each other’s company. One spot we stopped at did not look too appealing because of the lack of shoreline, but we decided to try our luck and throw some baits. A few minutes had gone by, and Emily shouts, “Got one!” We were all excited to see a smallie jump out from the dark water. Emily reeled the fish in, we snapped some quick photos, and she released it back into the river. Then, within seconds, Kaitlin was hooked up! We spent a good chunk of time at this spot because the smallmouth were hungry. Plus, who doesn’t love catching river smallies?
Eventually, the bass bite slowed way down, and we decided to load up and continue with the float.
At this point, I had been throwing the same bucktail since the beginning. Truthfully, I was “feeling” this bucktail and was being stubborn in changing to another lure. As we neared the last portion of the float, Kaitlin said something along the lines of, “If I were a musky, I’d want to hang out in here. This looks really good.” I completely agreed with her. This area had a few small islands and some beautiful slack water with wood. The way the sun was beginning to sink, and the stillness that laid over the slack water gave me hope for a topwater bite. So, I made the switch to a fun topwater lure that Kurt had picked up for me last year. As we neared the first area, I commented, “Oh, I’m excited!” Kaitlin laughed because she wasn’t sure what I was specially talking about. To be honest, I was just thrilled to be out on the water with some friends, and this area gave me all the feels. I spotted a tree coming off an island, and a portion was sticking in the water. I made my first cast just in front of the wood and reeled it in….nothing. The second cast was tucked perfectly between the wood and island shoreline. I lifted my rod tip and began to reel in – one turn, two turns, three turns, BAM! And the chaos began…
Kaitlin had been casting towards the rear of the canoe and didn’t realize I had hooked into a fish until I shouted that I had one on. I was beyond ecstatic! As I reeled the musky in closer to the canoe, Kaitlin turned around to grab the net, which was directly behind her. As she turned around with the net, the musky shot like a rocket out from the water! I panicked inside as the musky went airborne and thought I surely lost this battle. My panic level skyrocketed as the fish almost knocked Kaitlin out and landed back into the water. At this point, the musky was still hooked, but my line was thrashing over both of Kaitlin’s rods and the net. It all happened within seconds, and I felt helpless. Thankfully, Kaitlin stayed calm. She grabbed my line and got her poles out of the way; calm as a cucumber. We both looked at each other in shock at what just happened. She quickly asked, “Is it still hooked?” “Yep!” I replied. The musky took a small run away from the canoe, but at this point, it had put up quite a fight and was tiring quickly. I reeled until we could see the fish come towards the surface. Kaitlin scooped the net under the fish, and I absolutely lost it. I shouted and let out all of the anxiety that had built up. After all that had happened, the fish was still hooked, and I could not wait to lay my hands on it. A lot of time, effort, and discipline goes into musky fishing. So, any fish caught is truly a trophy.
As this was all happening, Emily was a short distance behind us and watched the entire chaos unfold. Once the musky was in the net, Emily made her way to the island shoreline that was nearby. Kaitlin had the net in her hands as the musky was thrashing around. It was up to me to paddle myself, Kaitlin, Kimber, and the pissed-off musky over to the shoreline by Emily. The paddle over seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r! I couldn’t get us there fast enough. Kaitlin continued to assure me the musky was fine and in the net. She was very calm and helped me cool my jets….mostly.
Finally, we reached the shoreline and worked together to unhook the musky and Kaitlin’s bait from the net. I let the fish rest and recover for quite some time before snapping some pictures. I can’t even begin to explain how it feels to have a musky in your hands; if it weren’t for my friends, this fish would have been long gone. The experience overall is quite emotional, which some of you may laugh at. When it comes to being passionate about something, you put a lot of time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into whatever it may be. There are times that I have crazy dreams and lose sleep, like last night, because musky fishing is all I think about. So, there I was geeking out and soaking up the memory. The best part about this entire chaotic adventure, besides the successful catch, was how pumped Emily and Kaitlin were to be a part of the experience. The musky was given more recovery time after pictures were taken and was successfully released.
I cannot thank Emily and Kaitlin enough for helping out BIG TIME and being enthusiastic with me. In the end, it was a fun float, and memories were definitely made. Follow along on their outdoor adventures as well – Kaitlin, Emily
Now, I must ask, have you ever experienced complete chaos while musky fishing? If so, please share in the comments below. I would love to read other people’s stories. And share this link with your friends so they can comment as well.
Thanks for reading and be on the lookout for more musky stories. I am already planning my next few outings! Until then, enJOY the outdoors.