No new pics of obese muskies to report. Not for lack of effort, but it has been one of the most exciting and discouraging times for my boat in recent memory. The first three days of last week, Mon - Wed, I was joined by two incredibly persistent and skilled muskie anglers. Mike and his Buddy Dylan flew all the way from New York and Colorado respectively, to land what they hoped to be a state record Minnesota muskie. Our phone conversations before the trip made it clear for all of us what we were up against, but nothing could prepare us for what we actually experienced. I was expecting cold, windy and brutal conditions, typical for Mille Lacs in mid-November. What we received was beautiful, flat calm and sunny weather for three straight days. This did not pose well for the fishing. Ughh...
Our first day was a bit of an encouragement, but unfortunately a prelude to the next two. Mike and I started out the trip by fishing day one together. Dylan was to fly in later that day, but Mike was not about to let one day pass without flopping the giant lures in the water. Muskie sighting number one was an absolute monster. A fish that no doubt would have challenged the record of 54 pounds. It was encouraging to see that fish right out of the gate, but only a start to what we would experience. Shortly after, another fish came boatside, followed by yet another record breaker. That fish definitely gave Mike a clear understanding of the absolute monstrosity that swims in that water. "It was the biggest fish I have ever seen," was all that Mike could muster. A true giant that pretty much left him speechless. By the end of that day, we had brought 9 different muskies to the boat. A number that blew my mind. Typically I see two or three fish in a full day, and get one or two to eat. This was not the case, and while it was encouraging to see so many huge fish that day, it was very discouraging for us to have zero strikes.
Day two Dylan hopped in the boat with us. After such an intense first day, we were jacked up to have an opportunity at some of the monsters we located. The only problem was that conditions stayed exactly the same. No wind, no clouds and crystal clear lake Mille Lacs waters. The results were also the same. This time we only raised 4 fish, which I still consider above average, but no takers. We discussed alternative plans and alternative waters, but these two boys were persistent, and they decided to "go big, or go home."
Wednesday was our third and final day together. We had high hopes yet again with so many fish located the previous two days. After all, we knew that one strike would change the outcome of the entire trip. We pounded away in another warm, calm and sunny day. Once again we brought some dandy fish to the boat. Again, we located some new fish, but it was obvious that they weren't having anything we were offering. Our day ended and the trip was over before we even realized what happened. In total we had 18 different muskies come boatside during that three day run. The weather remained a carbon copy of the day before, and the water temps didn't fluctuate a single degree. If you would have told me that we would see 18 muskies on that lake in mid November, I would have said we would have landed at least 5. That would have been more typical of what I am use to, but these fish had serious lock-jaw. Regardless, we shared many laughs, and I now have a newfound respect for cancer research. Also, Dylan, I sure hope your wife doesn't find out you were on a fishing trip instead of a work trip... Thanks guys, I hope the next outing rewards you for your hard work and efforts!
Friday I was back on the pond. My two eager guests were again Todd and Theo. These guys can't get enough of the Mille Lacs abuse and were as jazzed as I was to get back on the water. We were also joined that day by Brian Peterson, the outdoor editor for the Brainerd Dispatch. He has written several stories on the potential swimming in that lake, and wanted to come out to witness it all first hand. As we approached the waters, we realized that it was going to be quite an interesting day. Fog had set in, and it was as thick as I have ever seen. What made it even funnier for me was that I was the only person that had the slightest clue where we were on the lake. Visibility was about 50 yards, and I could have told them anything and they would have believed it. "Cast here, now over here, and over there," were my commands for the day, and with the lake flatter than a mirror, it was hard to keep your mind and sanity straight. You couldn't tell if you were looking up or down, left or right. It was slightly spooky.
The fish were once again eager to follow, and showed slightly more spunk than the previous few outings. Theo and I had some dandies screaming boatside to no avail. Shortly after we picked Brian up from the dock, we had a record class fish dancing under Todd's feet. Brian was next with a nice one of his own, but again we were left with stories of what could have been. At about 3:30 that afternoon, the fog finally lifted and we were able to watch the sun set. Moments after the sun had faded we had our most promising opportunity below our feet. A giant of a fall fatty followed Todd's lure boatside and turned. A quick cast back brought the fish screaming back in at a pace that made me whisper to Todd, "He's yours." That's all I said, because I figured it was a done deal. I have never seen such a hot fish flying around the boat that didn't gulp it's prize. But, as the week had gone all along, this fish again swam away hungry. It was dissapointing, depressing and heartbreaking, but I guess leaves me excited for the next adventure. Our day ended with another astonishing 9 fish to the boat with zero hookups. I'm beginning to wonder if these beasts are going to start shrinking in size due to their lack of eating.
Over the last four days on the water we have had 27 different muskies boatside. 5 of which could have contended as a new state record. Not a single one of these fish has eaten. The weather and water temps haven't changed a bit. Something has to give. I'm hoping that this happens over the next two days. We are going to be filming a pilot for a new extreme fishing show tomorrow and Wednesday, and nothing would make me happier than to see any one of these giant fish come in the boat. I guess we will see how it all plays out. I hope you stick around to find out. Until that monster strikes, keep on livin' the dream!