As a fishing guide, I spend most of my time chasing muskies for my clients to catch. This means the object of each outing is to land a fish on a customers line - not my own. Over the past 11 years muskie fishing has changed drastically and so has my approach to guiding. Even though I still enjoy casting baits, I rarely do it with clients in the boat. The way I see it, I would hate to pay a guy a lot of money to watch him catch a fish. It's for this reason that I focus all of my attention on teaching and preparation for my clients. Nothing will prepare you mentally or physically for the mayhem that is a muskie strike, but I try, and we go over it time and again. Casting, lure presentations, figure 8's and more. It's always ongoing.
While I haven't been racking up the numbers this year myself, I do have a few recent moments that I can claim. This week has been a lot of fun. I was given a chance to hit the water for more play than work. Since the pressure was off, I started tinkering with a new lure to the market. Numbers under 5 have been magic with this new bait. The first time I threw it I had a 50 incher destroy it on the 4th cast. One night I snuck out for a quick sunset outing and caught a dandy on the 3rd cast. The following day I hit the water and once again the same location and lure provided a heavy fish on the 3rd cast. Not to be selfish, I also had a client throw the bait this week and it took him only 2 casts to get hooked up. A lot of fast action with little work involved. To say that it's been good would be an understatement. Catching a few fish for myself helps me remember the excitement and thrill of the catch. Trying new things helps to stay ahead of the game and keep the action coming. Was it the lure, or lucky circumstances that lead to each catch? I can't say for sure just yet. All that I know is that it's been fun playing again. I will spill the beans on the new bait soon, but not before some of my lucky anglers tangle a few more times. Call me greedy, but hey, once in a while I have the right to do that.
The action has no doubt been awesome, but I do have one memory that stands out among them all. Prior to the Vikings opener against the Saints, I snuck out on my local watering hole for a few minutes of casting and peaceful time alone. It doesn't happen too often, but when I get out by myself, I really feel that I am in my best element. I pay extra attention to details, and the fish always seem to bite. I can't explain it, but God must enjoy my time alone with him and rewards me for it. This time was no different. About an hour into my evening I got rocked by a headshake that meant business. A bruiser soon went airborn and I knew that I had something special. After a long battle, I finally won and the fish was in the net. Astonished at the length and girth, I decided to set up my camera for a timer set photo. I don't do this very often, but this fish was special. With the hooks out, I set the camera in place and hit the timer. The camera allows ten seconds from button push to flash. The perfect amount of time to grab a fish and stand up to pose. After the flash, my ten seconds were up and the fish hit the bump board and the water in record time. She was a dandy. 52 inches (pictured on top) of adrenaline and excitement!
The successful catch, photo and release of that fish by myself will forever remain in my memory. Having a picture also makes it fun for me to share the moment. When I look back at my muskie career, each fish seems to take a special place. I remember them all. I guess that is why muskie fishing is so addicting and why I love it so much. Even on a bad day there are always a few good moments. I'm very blessed that this week leaves me with only good memories once again. Until the next muskie strikes, keep on livin' the dream!