A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to spend a week fishing with a legendary angler by the name of Joe Bucher. This man has an extensive history with our sport of muskie angling. What he has done in his lifetime is certainly nothing short of amazing. As cool as that was, I returned home for a short stay and then went straight to northern Minnesota to spend some time with another stud in the muskie world. We were once again filming a show for "Legends of Rod and Reel," a program that airs on the Outdoor Channel, but this time we were filming with the creators of the all impressive muskie catching Cowgirls.
Brad Hoppe is the name behind the bait and the focus of our program. While the history behind this man may not be that of Joe Bucher or other fishing icons that we grew up with, what he has been able to do in a short period of time is simply incredible. Muskie fishing as we know it has changed dramatically over the last 5 years, and it is his passion for change that created it. Here's a brief story to explain what I am talking about.
Several years ago Brad and his girlfriend at the time named Carrie, decided that they wanted to create something totally different in the world of muskie fishing. They had tinkered with a few jerkbaits and crankbaits, but it wasn't until Carrie found some tinsel/flashabou and spun herself a bucktail with two gigantic blades that they struck a nerve. The nerve was from the muskies and their eagerness to eat the lure. Upon creation, Brad said that he thought it was goofy and didn't want to throw it. Well, Carrie finally talked him into it, and minutes later he landed the largest muskie of his life measuring 53.5 inches. From there, the explosion occured, and soon guides like Jason Hammernick were throwing it with unbelievable results. If you muskie fish today, then you have heard of their line of baits. The Double Cowgirl, Showgirl, Siligirl and Super Model are their trademarks, and boy have they stuck. Their bladed baits have accounted for more muskies over 50 inches than possibly any other lure during its time. It's almost to the point of unfairness to the fish, and if you are on any muskie lake, odds are that you will hear the clanking of their blades flying through the air.
The neat part for me is learning where it all started, and to see how everything is hand made, one at a time for our fish catching pleasure. Today, Brad and Carrie are married. They both have quit their day jobs to focus entirely on muskie fishing. Brad is a full-time guide, and Carrie is a full-time lure making artist. From their place out in the country near Alexandria, MN, they put together hundreds of thousands of baits for you and I to toss. It's almost overwhelming to see it all, but very neat. They laughed when they said that some muskie fisherman have thought that their lures are made out fo the country. I can assure you this is not the case, and I have witnessed their Musky Mayhem.
Of course we also had to fish. Brad and Carrie bundled up for our outing, and almost immediately the fish responded. The third cast of our trip brought a hefty musky boatside, but she didn't take. Shortly after, the guide's trademark name came about as the Musky Mayhem we were looking for exploded at our feet. Carrie had latched into a beast of a fish at boatside on one of her newly put together Cowgirls. The results? Well, I guess you'll just have to watch the program to see how it all went down. Day two we were joined by muskie phenom Jason Hammernick. He and Brad jumped in the boat together for our final day of on the water filming. Again, we saw fish ranging into the mid 50's, and again, I will let you watch to see what happened.
For me, spending time with some of the biggest names in muskie fishing, past and present, has been one of the best experiences in my young career. These guys are all truly unique in their own way. How they started, what they have done, and their passion for the fish is very inspiring. I guess I am almost humbled to say that I have fished with some of the Legends of Rod and Reel. Until next time, keep on livin' the dream!