Fishing becomes a completely different ballgame when casting in water that may contain a legendary fish with its impressive chompers and ability to attain massive proportions, like a human leg.
This “fish of 10,000 casts” or the muskie, is famous for following lures right up to the boat. To hook one, keep your wits about you (For example: Don’t hop up and down and yell,”Holy Smokes! Did you see that thing?!”), working the lure in what is called a “figure 8” pattern to trigger a strike. Just why the number 8 upsets a muskie, is open for debate. Then again, if it really takes thousands of casts per fish, maybe the “figure 8” actually is the symbol for “infinity.”
To catch them, anglers frequently heave enormous, hoagie-sized lures using long, stout rods, filled with heavy line. However, I hooked my first muskie on a small minnow tipped jig, while fishing near a brush pile that was packed with stunted crappie. It was as if I had hooked an enraged, submerged railroad tie. These massive fish are relatively rare, so if/when I’m lucky enough to hook another, greater care will be taken to release the fish for others to enjoy.
In its mostly northern range of large lakes and rivers, it is an awesome ambush apex predator. Not even ducks or muskrats are safe. In fact, every few years, I read about a small dog receiving scars after wading too deep. I have been fishing a muskie lake and then noticed that the shoreline of brave sunfish had suddenly disappeared. I have been on the Allegheny River catching rock bass, smallmouth, and crappie just as fast as I could put the jig in the water, and had the bite come to an abrupt halt. The hair stood up on the back of my neck and I could almost hear the “Jaws” theme. Experience the muskellunge once, and you may be the one who is hooked.
Andy Whitcomb is a columnist, outdoor humorist, and stressed-out Dad who just relocated to Pennsylvania. Visit him at www.justkeepreeling.com.