Hello. My name is Travis Frank, and I am addicted to fat muskies. It's a problem that I've been dealing with for several years now. This week doesn't help my addiction. Chasing 50 pounders never gets old.
Home from a 12 day assignment on the east coast, I was ready for the dirty deed. Prior to my trip, the first attempt at the record brought more action than I can remember from a November day. While away, I watched pictures of monsters being boated and I will admit that it was painful to be a thousand miles from home. The first thing I did when I returned was go to church. Then I hooked up the boat and prepared for battle.
Technically, Monday would be day two of the quest. It was only my 2nd trip of the fall. Joining me was my good ol' fishing buddy Matt Peters. A diehard angler up for the challenge of cold weather and fat fish. It took about 2 hours to get dialed in on the pattern for the day. We found suspended tullibees splashing near the surface away from structure. My gut told me to mix it up, so I threw on a swimbait and burnt it through the schools of baitfish. To my surprise, it only took 1 cast. As I burnt the bait inches under the surface I had a low 40 incher screaming behind and as I turned for the figure 8, she decided it was good enough to eat. Fortunately for the lil' guy, I managed to loose her in the boatside battle. I was jacked, Matt was speechless. I hoped it wasn't a one cast wonder, but 5 casts later another fish chased me around boatside proving that it wasn't a fluke. I guess you can use speed even when the water is cold. Another myth debunked!
We moved on using our new gameplan to our advantage. As we motored to a favorite haunt of of mine, I explained to Matt that there is a fish here named Edna. She has a weight problem and she will likely push the scale around 50 pounds. I also mentioned that I had been after her for the past two years. As I approached her home the tension grew. I could just feel it. Then, as if it was perfectly scripted from above, my rod doubled over and the battle was on. She shook hard once and then bullrushed me. If you've ever had a big fish charge the boat, you'll understand that this is a tough scenario. Fortunately for her, she shook the hooks and escaped my camera lens once again. The adrenaline was awesome, but the day ended without a fish in the boat. The stats looked something like this. 6 fish observed in their feeding habits, two of which successfully found hooks, both of which successfully let their food (my lure) swim freely again.
This action only added fuel to my fire. I had visions of Edna, Marge, Diane and Fat Bastard. All fish pushing the 50 pound mark. Day number 3 quickly came. Joining me for the circus was Mitch Petrie and Todd Mosher. For Mitch, this was his first experience. Todd, however, is a seasoned vet and one of my favorite dudes to chase fall fatty's with. We've had some great days in the past, and this was to be another. The weather had changed and so did the attitude. They weren't following. Instead they were eating. Just the way I like it!
Our morning was uneventful and the wind had created quite a stir. Visibility was nil and after a few hours of figure 8's in murky water we decided to punt and head to new territories. The home of Fat Bastard. About 30 minutes later it was obvious that we made the right decision. A nice fall muskie found the net and high fives and fist pumps could be seen from our Ranger boat. Just the way we like it!
Next it was Todd's turn. As we approached the promise area he was stopped dead in his tracks. The hook set revealed a flaw in his reel and the broken gear created a backlash that meant chance number 2 would forever remain a question mark in our minds. Life went on and so did the action. The next strike came on my end as the surface broke with a muskie thrash and a face full of rubber. Slime hit the net and once again the emotion was felt and the anxiety of sub-freezing temps released a cause for celebration.
As darkness fell on day number 3, so did the cold. Our boat quickly became a solid sheet of ice. With the crash of each wave, the carpet turned into a skating rink. Not the place to be in rocking waves. In the fading light, Fat Bastard made her move. Inches behind my bucktail the giant was ready to eat. The only problem was on my end. I couldn't move. I couldn't take a step or run the figure 8. For fear of slipping over the edge I simply raised my rod tip and pulled the bait. It was bittersweet, but my instincts kept me from taking the chance. At that moment I chiseled the trolling motor free of ice and we pulled the plug on the quest. Once again it was a day that I will never forget. Most importantly, it leaves me wanting more. How will the rest unfold? I can only imagine. Until then, keep on chasing your dream!