Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Steelhead mojo

So there are a couple of traditions that the Jenn-o-rator and I have when it comes to steelhead.  The first is that the morning is best started with a snickers and some caffeinated beverage for me.  The Jen likes a mounds or Almond Joy for the drive to the first parking spot.  

The second is having Dave Matthews pumping loudly through the speakers; in particularly to get jazzed up for a day of steelheading we like to hear Grave Digger by Dave Matthews.  Here is a YouTube clip: Grave Digger

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A November Musky (2013)

This past November, Peter talked me into squeezing a last run (for me anyway) at fishing.  As I've mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, I've been a bit busy this year.  After doing a little "figuring," I manged to make a plan to allow me to squeeze in a day with the guys to target Muskies in Northern Wisconsin.

I met part of our crew up at Peters relaxing cozy cabin late Friday night.  We had a shortened "catch-up" session and we headed for bed.  The funny part is that Mike and I shared a room that night and we were chatting and laughing in the dark for at least an hour or more like we were back at a middle school sleep-over.  I half expected a booming voice from the dark telling us to "shut-up and go to sleep."  It was a fun time and it was good to catch up with Mike since I hadn't seen him much this year.

The next morning our two boats and the gang met up at the landing and prepared our rods, gear, clothing, etc.  We had Peter, Mike, Rob, Wendy, Larry and myself together for this little adventure.

Since I don't have crap for musky flies, Peter let me use his "exclusive" Gopher-fly as tied by Mother Feiker. He didn't let any of his clients fish it all summer, but thought it would be ok for me to use. So I tied it on and hopped aboard Wendy and Larry's boat.

It was a bit cold and damp out that morning and throughout the day for that matter and we were all sporting our Simms rain gear and several layers of fleece.  We drifted along about 30 minutes or so and when casted my fly on to a thin layer of ice that covered an eddy on the side of the river.  I pulled it into the water and took a couple of strips when a musky came up to take and miss it like trout would when dry fly fishing.  Keeping my cool, and staying like ice, I didn't flinch, change stripping speed or even mutter a word (all are a miracle if you haven't been big-game fishing with me before).  I just kept doing what I was doing and then just a few feet from the boat, I felt something and set the hook as hard as I could.  Boom!  I hooked it, and the game was on!

I was using a 9wt, and was very glad I didn't grab my 8wt. that I had considered earlier.  He circled the boat several times, and tried to go under.  Larry insisted I keep pulling up harder than what I was doing, but I was reluctant to do so as I could feel the rod bending into the cork handle!  While trying to bring this alpha in, I was also envisioning the rod exploding in my hand and losing it if I put anymore pressure on it.  It probably took me all of 5 minutes to land it, but it felt like 15 or 20 minutes!

Out of nowhere, Larry had pulled out this garbage can sized landing net and was able to boat the musky for me.  It was a very iridescent green 42" Musky!  It was a nice, strong, wide fish with velociraptor teeth in it's face!  It was awesome!!!  Wendy got pictures of Larry holding it up for me, I was shaking pretty bad out of excitement and also suddenly very scared and intimidated by my lack of Kevlar gloves to handle that guy when I saw the teeth as he flared his gills wide open at us!

Larry, Critter, and 42" of Musky happiness.

The secret "Gopher" fly

Lunch Break - "Team Simms"

If I remember correctly, I think almost everyone had a "follow" that day and a couple of pike were landed.  But no other Muskies were landed, so I way lucked out!!!

We stopped for a celebratory beer at one the local pubs and to thaw and dry out a little bit.  I think we did a good job entertaining the two bartenders and the single customer that was our audience there for the two beers we stayed for.  Then back to the cabin we went.

The next morning, I made breakfast for the cabin, packed up my stuff and headed for home to get ready for a project meeting I had with my class group.  Peter, Rob, and Mike went to float a different stretch of water for the day in hopes that they too would be able to land a musky.

I am so glad they talked me into going, and that I hit the lottery landing a nice fish, and that I could have another nice Fall memory being with friends fishing. Oh, and Peter let me keep the fly so that I could hang it in a frame with a picture of us with the fish!