They say the Muskellunge or Musky for short, is the fish of a thousand casts…probably true because I have fished in our local Musky waters for literally hundreds of hours and up to just recently had only caught two small specimens, a 9 and 12 inch fish, both caught in Black Cat which is a medium sized lake found in the West Dugger Unit of Greene-Sullivan State Forest. The first 9 incher that I caught I still recall thinking I had hooked a snake as it was so small and slender that it looked more like a snake than a fish.
Saturday, May 12th found me up early and off to Bass Lake (also in the West Unit) to once again try my luck at a Musky. I had heard and even talked to a few folks that have ‘tangled’ with a Musky or two and so knowing that they were there was the only reason I needed for giving it some time. I was up late the night before tying a large fly for my standards, it was tied on a 1/0 hook, but in the world of Musky fishing… big, bright and noisy is the way to go. My fly was a combination of bright purple saddle hackle and several shades of bucktail that was finished with a bright orange head and big eyes. It looked great in the water and I was in high hopes that it would fool a fish into snapping it up. I had my 6 and 8 weight rods fixed up….and even had my 10 weight on the boat as back up if needed; being under-gunned in some situations in the fly-fishing world is not good. I recently purchased a video shot up in Wisconsin titled “From Zero to Hero”. The video chronicles 2 younger guys and there passion and pursuit of the king of all freshwater fish…the Musky. The video ends with one of the fly-fisherman catching a new record 46 inch beast of a fish; it is an incredible film and shot in High Def!
If you know Bass Lake then you are familiar with the many boat ramps located around the 220 acre lake. I decided to use the ramp located on the southeast side…I could easily scoot across the water and fish the area around the large blacktop boat ramp as most advice I had received said to stay close to the ramp. Like usual there was a large contingency of bass boats, all staging and ready for what I assumed was going to be another bass tourney. I fished the shore east of the blacktop ramp and waited for about an hour for these boats to set sail for other parts and then slipped my little Twin Troller into the small bay formed at the mouth of the ramp.
To my surprise the first few fish I caught were several small bass…the fly they were chewing on was 6 to 7 inches long and almost as long as a couple of the smaller fish! The wind was pushing from southeast to northwest and allowed me to position the boat to a point where I could drift through some good looking water with lots of old tree stumps for cover. If you are a fisherman then you know that sometimes you just get a feeling; such was the case as I neared one small tree that was sticking out of the water a few inches. I made a long haul and placed my fly several yards past the stump and started making long, intermittent strips with my 6 weight…when bang, I felt the hit on the other end and in seconds could see the flash of what I knew was a Musky. What a relief and what a confidence boost as well. Just knowing that I was in the right place and had fooled a trophy fish on one of my own flies was a great feeling. Now my fish wasn’t huge…but he was 20 inches and quite frankly one of the more beautiful fish I have ever landed.
If you don’t know….Musky are toothy creatures and I was careful not to get the wrong end of one of those sharp teeth! I had heavy enough tippet to lift the fish into the boat where I slipped my hand under the gills and lifted my prize up for a few photos. It was a proud moment and one that I won’t soon forget. I hope that the future holds big, mean Musky…but I will always remember the day I caught this fish and its beauty as it flashed sideways after taking my fly. Fly-fishing is about small successes and it requires learning in increments but more important it asks that we enjoy these moments when they come.
If you are looking for a “Musky Adventure” here in southern Indiana…then look no further than a few of the lakes locate just west of Dugger and I hope our paths cross as we all Enjoy the Great Outdoors.