Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cold Front Muskies In the Fog

We arrived at the boat landing a little after 6:30 am on Saturday morning, dressed in multiple layers and a wind whipped drizzle. The outside air temperature was in the low to mid 30′s and our Evinrude 120 V4 took a little extra time before it was warmed up and ready to leave the launch. Our fishing team (we were # 99 “The Great One”) consisted of the Cahill brothers (Kevin, Keith, Kirk) and a good friend of Kevin, Walter Zimmerman. Four people in a boat can be tough when throwing large baits for muskie, but with years of practice we have become quite efficient at making the most of the tight quarters.

The first obstacle we had to overcome was the mildew smell that had permanently entrenched itself within my rain gear. The 17 foot Lowe boat that we own, was stored outside for a few weeks near Kevin’s cabin. Numerous days of rain had seeped into my gear and had created quite a stench. At least I didn’t have to take a shower for the rest of the weekend, I could just blame it on the rain suit.

We started to fish not far from the launch site and noticed that most of the weeds were still quite green. Knowing that muskie will be relating to these green weeds, we were quite positive that we would see some fish, and we did. A small fish under 30inches took a swipe at my Buchertail just after I completed my figure 8 and was removing the bait from the water. I missed him but it gave us the confidence that we were doing the right thing and that patience was going to be the key.

After a few drifts through the weeds with no takers we decided to move out to some mid lake points and deeper structure. The rain was spotty and the sun now made its way in and out of the showers for the better part of the morning. Our team continued to work the deeper weed line throwing Bull Dawgs or Curly Sue’s and our favorite, the Suick over and along the weed line. Occasionally we would work the inside edge of the weed beds looking for active fish, and again we found no muskie. Knowing that we had been fishing in prime muskie waters for the body of water we were fishing, we concluded that the fish were not aggressively feeding. It would be a difficult task to catch a fish under these cold front conditions.

The rain was gone now and the wind continued to blow. Air temperatures now were around 45 degrees with high pressure building in behind the front. Kevin said we should go back near the landing to the shallow weeds and give them another try. It was the only place we had seen any action at all, so we all agreed. Keith made a few casts again with a Suick and had a mid 40′s fish blow up on the bait just after he made his first jerk. The muskie missed the lure completely and the team was quite deflated, but had reason for hope, we again had sighted a muskie in the shallow water. We fished until the end of tournament hours (7:00 pm) returned to the cabin and regrouped for the next morning.

Sunday came and we awoke to a heavy fog that had settled in among the warm water lakes. The four of us have fished enough times for muskie to know that the low light conditions with the fog were optimal for any chance for success. We started casting again around the landing and the shallow cover. I was taking a few pictures of the sunrise over the top of the fog when a muskie slammed Kevin’s Suick and he belted out “Fish!” After a few good runs and a dive into the weeds the muskie made its way to our Beckman net. Now we had to find a boat to verify our catch. Walter had heard a boat about a hundred yards away from us and we headed in that direction until we came upon them. Kevin’s muskie was measured at 39 inches and released after a few quick pictures.

After the measurement and signature on our slip, we parted ways with the other boat and headed back towards where we had caught the fish. Within 15 minutes we heard the other boat yelling and slapping high fives over another muskie. We knew they were excited and with good cause, in fifteen years in the tournament they had never boated a legal muskie. This was a big moment for team #102 and muskie fisherman Todd Klingaman. They made their way over to us and we measured and verified the 40 inch muskie and watched its release back into Big Arb.

Our window of opportunity was now quickly fading away as the sun began to burn off the remaining fog. We tried a few different locations to give ourselves a lucky chance but the high pressure and clear blue sky would make our remaining hours quiet ones. After all the slips were tallied and the winners were awarded their trophies, only 4 fish had been caught on Big Arbor Vitae and we were witnesses to two of them. I guess we were doing something right. Weren’t we? Of the 250 fisherman spread across 10 lakes in the region, there were 21 muskie caught and released. I know the next time we encounter conditions similar to what we had last weekend I’ll be holding on a little tighter waiting for another cold front muskie in the fog.

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You can’t catch any fish if your line isn’t in the water!

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