By Mike Kadoura
Originally published in the Release Journal July / August 2011
Let me get to the point right away. Do not get distracted on a cast, or you will miss out on that fish you are yearning for so badly.
Case in Point…Last week my buddy Mark and I went out to Madoc to fish the opener on a nearby lake. It is a smallish lake, but we had boated four there a few years ago in two days, so in our own musky lore this lake had become a real gem. With his 32′ RV and my 17′ fishing machine trailing behind, we felt like quite the pros rolling down Hwy 7 from Ottawa that beautiful Friday afternoon.
We set up at Crystal Bay and were on the water by 6 pm. The water was 66 degrees and right away we spotted a saddle between four islands, five minutes from the launch. This being spring, the weeds hadn’t choked the spot up yet. There were two cherry bays in the area where I suggested to Mark they had spawned weeks earlier. “Bud”, I said, “this musky cabbage, those bays, and the deep water near us tells me we need to start here.”
I tied on a double showgirl and he began casting a glider. “Man, this looks good. If something sees it, she’s got to hit,” he said after the second cast, as he saw how his glider swept and swirled below. We were concentrating and not talking those first 10 minutes of our season. Had one hit, I thought, we’d have a good chance.
About 40 minutes later we’d covered 80 percent of the spot with no action. I picked up another rod and threw out a virgin Topraider. I told Mark that if the water is in the mid-60’s we should get them on top. We fish topwater down into the 50’s in the fall. On the second cast a 28’” pike hammered it. Mark then switched to his favorite jackpot from last season and began ‘dogging’ it.
“MUSKY! SETTHE HOOK!”
After about an hour and a half, we began to settle ourselves, and remember that musky fishing can be lots of casting with no action. Focus is the key, as this story will now remind us all. As we approached the last island Mark made another beauty of a cast that brought the topwater between some surface weeds in about 8 feet of water. Twenty feet from the boat he stopped the lure. He took the rod out of his left hand and started to flex his arm. “My arm is getting sore already” was all he said. The sun was behind me and I could see his Jackpot sitting right next to this clump of weeds. Just as he said those words I saw a 45″ class ‘ski rise up, open its mouth, grab that bait, turn and dive. I yelled, “MUSKY! SET THE HOOK!”
In the time it took him to move the rod back to his left hand, grab the reel and pull back, that wise fish must have said to itself, “what is this woody thing?” because the lure popped back to the surface and he just buried it into the weeds as he yanked back hard. Now understand, I watched this fish rise, open its mouth, bite down and dive with the bait in its mouth. The fish was lost because he stopped thinking about his cast. He broke concentration. He interrupted his cast to massage his arm. That fish was catchable. It was his for the taking.
After that I began to notice how often I’d stop paying attention during a retrieve to look down at the trolling motor and adjust my direction or speed. I began to notice how often I let myself get distracted during the retrieve to look around, or how often I let go of the reel handle to reach for coffee or water. It happened a lot. That fish I saw him miss caused me to reflect on this.
So my message is this, fellow anglers. As a kind reminder, rub your sore arm between casts. Hit the juice on the trolling motor before that next cast. Do not look down and hit that switch during the retrieve. Take a drink of water after you finish the figure 8. But do not break concentration during a retrieve. We talked about this over steaks and a beverage that night. The second day we reminded each other. The results were better a 30″er, and a 45”er that got off after some tremendous head shakes and acrobatics.
Musky fishing is a game of patience with huge payoffs at unexpected times. Make sure to complete each cast with devotion and concentrate throughout. And the next time you see that big girl come out to eat or your buddy says, “Musky! Set the hook!” you will be one step ahead of him and will be able to say, “Fish on!”