"I call these my lucky shoes!" That was the quote Jeff stated before we left the dock last Friday. He forgot his fishing shoes and was stuck with his office footwear. We quoted them as the lucky ingredient but we had no idea what kind of luck they would eventually bring.
The morning started out with a mixed bag of adventures. A group of several anglers and several guides gathered for a Lake Minnetonka Bonanza. The goal of the day was to catch a bunch of fish and award one lucky angler with the coveted Rapala trophy. The trophy was to be presented to the one with the biggest fish of the day. With men and women from all over the country, we set out to see what would tug on the end of the line.
With a mixed bag in mind, the morning was a success and all the boats caught bass, pike, panfish and walleye like it was going out of style. The amounts totalled in the hundreds and smiles were on the faces of every single angler. There must have been something in the rainy air that day, because I haven't seen the bite that hot in weeks. Even the guides were giddy with excitement.
After a lunch break, it was time for the second shift. This is where the story really gets interesting. My partner for the afternoon was Jeff. Being an angler after the next big catch, he decided that he wanted to take a stab in the dark and chase the mighty muskellunge. Knowing that the morning bite was very solid and the rainy cool temps were making the fish go crazy, he opted out of the multi-specie action and hoped for one big bite and his chance at a trophy of a lifetime. Normally for this time of the year and the recent heat, this wouldn't have been an option for us, but the cool weather had dropped the water temps to a comfortable range and it was finally game on!
After a quick tutorial on the in's and out's, Jeff was hard at it. Looking for his first ever muskie encounter, we had no idea what was about to explode from the surface. About an hour and a half into his muskie fishing career, we were scared stiff when an absolute giant broke the surface and grabbed his lure within feet of the boat. With a head like a monster it was an all out war between Jeff and the fish. A battle that I'm sure felt like an eternity for Jeff, resulted in a muskie in the net in about 20 seconds. In utter shock, we put the fish on the board to see the tail touch 53.5 inches in length. A quick photo and the muskie dissappeared back to the depths. Before we even knew what happened, the fish had already swam away. To say that Jeff was excited wouldn't do justice. As for the guide? I was on cloud 9. To have the opportunity to witness a fish of such magnitude is incredible. To watch it happen on a first time muskie anglers line? Lets just say that you can't put words to it. It is the reason that I love what I do!
Jeff and I laughed and joked about the entire scenario over the next two hours. We sent text messages to the rest of the anglers on the water, and created more hype than we knew what to do with. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences that I can remember. The clouds, rain and cool winds were exactly what the doctor ordered. In all, we had 5 boats and 17 happy anglers that caught 2 muskies (both first timers), about a dozen walleyes, a 6 pack of pike, and too many bass and panfish to count. While it seemed that the fish were almost jumping in the boat at times, Jeff only caught one, but it took home top honors and the the Rapala trophy too. You could chalk it up to pure luck, but if you ask Jeff, he'll say that it was all in the shoes! Congratulations Jeff, on your first muskie and the fish of 10 lifetimes! Until the next monster strikes, keep on livin' the dream!