A Trophy Musky – Near Miss

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Sunday, October 2nd started out just like any other…a great service at church then home and off to fish with my buddy Frank. We started out at a small public lake in the Linton area and found a couple other fishermen in our small ‘honey-hole’. Now I have no problem sharing….please believe me…but this pair had nabbed a couple five pound bass and were in the process of making a meal out of them. Once again, I don’t mind someone eating a couple of fish…but not the big ones as we need these genes left in the lake. The truth is that earlier this spring I had fished this small spot several times and landed ten fish that   would’ve weighed in at 5 pounds or greater…and without my practicing catch and release, well, they might not have had these bigger bass? But let’s move on to the real crux of the day…

We then packed it up, drove west about ten miles and stopped in at Bass Lake which is located in the Dugger Unit of Greene-Sullivan State Forest. Frank and I would park our vehicles about a half mile from each other and fish the inside edge of the lake towards each other (it is good to fish with a lefty as we can go in opposite directions and this time, opposite was now towards each other). The plan was simple…whomever finished first would hop in a vehicle and come pick up the other person.

I packed two rods; one an 8-weight with floating line and a surface shad popper, the other was a 6-weight with a big white streamer and sink tip line (the 6-weight had 30 pound tippet in case of contact with a musky). I decided to start out with my 8 weight to see if any bass might be near or feeding near the surface as the weather was overcast, cool and drizzly. With my back to the open part of the lake I shoved off and started making long cast right up against the weed line…within a few minutes I heard a commotion going on behind me and turned to see ripples and waves in the lake about a hundred yards further up the coastline.

That was good news as I figured that a big bass might actually be following the shad that were in the lake. A few more minutes and ‘all heck broke loose behind me’…I turned to see large area of water that was rolling and pitching towards the shore. My initial thought was that this was one of the many beaver that inhabit these lakes and even though it was midday…it was overcast? I marked the area with the action and when I got there made a long casts with the popper and what happened next was a bit surprising…maybe even shocking; as I was getting ready to ‘eject’ my fly, I made a long pull and the shad popper ran across the lake…a wave that looked much like a shark came out from the weeds and surfaced just behind my fly as it lifted off the water.

This is when and where I quickly turned on my GoPro and the rest as they say…is not just history, but in this case is video. You can watch what follows and the heartbreak with losing a truly large apex predator on the fly. I might add that at two points I could see down into the water and got a clear glimpse of the musky…its size and more impressively, the girth of its head. In fact as you watch and just before the fly finally pulls loose I get the best view and without making a fish story I feel like the fish was at least in the 40 inch class (but certainly won’t go any further than that).


Two years back, while fishing from my boat (that I have since sold) I hooked into a monster musky on this same body of water. On that day I did everything the right way and played the fish for what seemed like an hour before pulling it in beside my boat. It was at that moment that I reached back for my big net, the fly pulled loose! The fish was tired enough that it actually listed and stayed beside the boat and I almost had enough time to net this fish.

So, hopefully the ‘third time will be the charm’ and at some point I will successfully land one of this lake’s large muskies (I have caught and landed about ten smaller muskies over the past few years). I hope you can enjoy this short video and if in the area…and a fly-guy, get out there and start musky hunting as these cool fall months are when the ‘beast comes out looking to eat’!

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