Friday, June 16, 2017

Road Trip Wisconsin - Muskie on the fly (with video)

During my second deployment in the Navy working a security detail, a FNG walked up and asked me where he could find a “bulkhead remover”?  Being completely serious, I explained that my department was out but I was sure the Damage Control (DC) department had some.  The DC department was located 10 floors down and on the opposite end of the ship.  
Camp at Moose Lake

In the Navy a “bulkhead” is another name for a wall.  Of course, this was the game that was played on each of us at some point during our early days on a ship and it was my duty to keep him on his quest.  
Changing the spools on 8-10 weights for the afternoon sessions 

View of the lake from camp
Bald Eagles were a daily seen.  Often flying right over my kayak. 

As painful as it is to admit, I’ve been fooled by another wild goose chase.  This time, chasing unicorns.  The elusive and cunning muskie, a fish of 10,000 casts.  I would like to believe they exist but I don’t know anyone that’s caught one.  In fact, I’ve never actually seen one in the water.  Sure, I’ve seen the pictures on Facebook and other social media sites.  I’ve stood in awe of the impressive wall mounts hanging from fly shops and tackle stores.  

St Croix River smallie

I’m convinced it’s a ruse to protect the trophy smallmouth fisheries.  More than likely, it’s purely entertainment purposes.  Like that time your father stuck you in a field to hunt snipe.  Imagine the joy those in the know get from watching you walk into a fly shop and ask for the musky area.  They point over to that one obscure corner of the room that seems completely out of place.  Traditional flies are created to match the hatch.  They appear more natural and resemble what you would find on the water. In contrast, the muskie section looks like it belongs in a store off Bourbon Street.   

Hanging from the ceiling and every nook are huge streamers made of the most obnoxious colors available.  If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can purchase your own bright and shiny materials to create your own modern art.  A far cry from matching the hatch and one I think has a more direct purpose, aside from the in-store humor of course! 

On the water, you’ll be the star of the show, clearly seen from a mile away punishing yourself while you wrestle a foot-long fly over your head with a 10 weight.  Over 4 days, I never saw another person throwing those huge Vegas Showgirl streamers.   I did run into several boats that asked me if the muskie were biting in a manner that suggested they already knew the answer.  Almost like I was on the outside of an inside joke.   That moment stuck with me.  Eventually, I figured out the joke.  It’s a myth created by anglers purely for entertainment purposes. 
Upper Mississippi River

High's in the 90's and lows in the 50's made for foggy mornings

If you ever find yourself on the water and you see a guy slinging a chicken that appears to have just participated in "The Color Run", do your part and be sure to continue the tradition.  When he asks, “if the muskie are biting”, show him a picture of a 52 incher, tell him it was taken just a few days ago and explain that the best area is over there while pointing to the other side of the lake.  At least a two-mile paddle away.  Once you’ve figured out the game it’s your responsibility to help others on their path to enlightenment.

For best results open the video on YouTube and watch in 1080/60