Muskie Fishing Changes Us (For The Better)

As I look back on 2015, it’s been a wonderful experience for me. I am grateful for the opportunity to have visited most of our Muskies Canada chapters and have been to many outings and events. There’s something special about Muskie People. They’re welcoming, generous, sincere and helpful no matter what chapter you go to. Why are Muskie People so special? I think Muskie Fishing teaches us some values that make us better people.

There’s something special about Muskie People.

Patience: You don’t stay with Muskie fishing if you’re not patient. The very act of casting or trolling often for long hours without result demands self-discipline and finally rewards patience with well-earned success.

Persistence: This goes together with patience. If you’re give up too easily, you might leave a productive spot too soon, or end your day early, just as those twilight fish are getting ready. If you stick with it, you’re usually rewarded with something good. Muskie success rewards persistence.

Work Ethic: The unfortunate stereotype of anglers is wiling away a lazy afternoon in a boat, beer in hand, with fish practically jumping in the boat. This is sure not the case with Muskie Fishing. How often do we come home after long hours of hard work, casting until our muscles ache, exhausted. Muskie fishing is very hard work. By the end of the season we’re inevitably in better physical shape thanks to all the exercise we get. Our willingness to work hard is what leads to angling success in the Muskie World. It’s not surprising that the best fishermen are usually the hardest workers.

Trust: We’re a « catch-and release » organization so we trust each other and don’t go to great lengths to require proof of your catch. This is a rewarding application of the honor system that calls out the best in us. Sure we joke around and tease each other, but what makes our club and its activities and outings work is trust.

Humility: if you have a big ego, Muskie fishing will humble you at times. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you’ll lose a big one, or go through a dry spell when nothing is working. It happens to all of us and keeps us all a bit more humble.

Compassion and Caring: It’s hard not to be moved by the sight of a big beautiful fish swimming away for another day. Seeing these big, charismatic mega-fauna inspires awe and appreciation for these special beasts, just like spotting an eagle or seeing a grizzly in the wild. Each is a rare top predator that has an important place in the bigger ecosystem. We like to see them go back after we’ve brought them in. We handle and release our fish because we care. We care because they inspire us with their majesty.

Seeing a big beautiful Canadian Muskie makes us grateful for how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource around us.

Gratitude: The possibility of catching Muskies is such a privilege it teaches us gratitude. The more often we see and catch Muskies, the more we appreciate how fortunate we are. These great fish are not available everywhere. Our fish are wild fish, not stocked, which is even more special. Seeing a big beautiful Canadian Muskie makes us grateful for how fortunate we are to have this wonderful resource around us.

Stewardship: As Muskie People, because we care about Muskies, we are inspired to look after them. We know that they are rare and that their future totally depends on their ability to reproduce, naturally. Beyond minimizing our own angling impact on these fish, we worry about water quality, invasive species, loss of breeding and nursery habitat, dangers to young-of-the-year, water-level fluctuations, poaching and a host of other issues that might undermine the conditions needed for natural reproduction and re-population. These threats call on us to become more active as stewards, not only of individual fish that we may be fortunate enough to catch, but also of the lakes and rivers that are the aquatic ecosystems that these great fish depend upon. We only see an apex predator like Muskie at the top of the food chain if the whole system is healthy at every level. We work as best we can as stewards.

As a Muskie fisherman I have learned many things. These values may be the best part of what I’ve learned.

Peter Levick

President, Muskies Canada