This report comes from Marlon Prince and was submitted as part of our 2012 Contributor Contest.
As I know you guys are aware musky can give you a beat down, and I was getting banged up pretty good this year. Most of the season I was attempting the impossible, landing a musky on the fly. With countless follows, eats, a few hookups but no fish landed, I was beginning to think my boat had some kind of anti-musky stank on it. Most of the time I’m fishing with friends throwing gear and still no musky in the boat. I drove from Halfax, NS to Fredericton, NB almost every weekend to fish for the big musky. After the time and gas money spent, logging well over a couple hundred hours this season I started to wonder “Why am I doing this?”
Fast forward to Oct 13, 2012 in Meductic, NB. I booked an extra long weekend off work in hopes the cool fall weather would turn the fish on and maybe I’d be at the right place at the right time. My girlfriend and I fished two days with no sign of fish. Saturday morning we took our time and made a big breakfast around the fire before hitting the water. I knew it was going to be a good day when my girlfriend landed her biggest smallie to date on her second or third cast. We fished the morning and landed some good size smallmouth bass up untill around noon when the water started getting rough. The Saint John River was at her meanest, throwing 2-4ft swells at us. No way I can throw a fly in this stuff! With no sign of musky and the waves crashing, I decided to switch my gear and troll. I threw on a 8″ hellhound “triple d” in walleye colour, which had been a proven musky producer for me the previous fall. I made the call to troll a shady shoreline with a steep 30′ drop off. My girlfriend was doubtful.
“Why are we on this side?” she asked.
“Going with my gut.” I replied. I had never fished this area before so it was a gamble.
After about 20 min of slow trolling it happened. My rod felt it was going to snap! At first I thought I had hooked a fallen tree… Head shakes… That’s no tree! The battle was on! All I knew was this fish was bigger than anything I’ve ever hooked in freshwater. She stayed down not giving an inch. I was using a calcutta 700 reel which is almost overkill for freshwater, but not for this fish. All I could do was keep the pressure on while she took line. Finally, she tired out and I had her boat side. With one more incredible display of strength she went airborne, landed in a precisely placed net and I realized what I had caught. Wow! Zero to hero! I worked fast to unhook her but she had a treble hooked bad under her eye. All I could think was I cannot kill this fish. I worked the bolt cutters and freed her of the hooks. One quick picture and back in the water. Well she left a lot quicker than she came in showering me with a tail splash.
No, I didn’t get measurements, and it doesn’t bother me. I don’t fish for records or bragging rights. Maybe it’s because my father never carried a tape with him on the boat and I was raised to not fish that way. In my opinion it just makes for better a story! All I know is I may never catch one this big again but I’m glad she lived to fight another day and someday when I’m an old man, myself or another lucky angler may have the chance to land one of her offspring!
So to add to my story, it seems the stank I was worried about had worn off my boat because the next day Linsey (my girlfriend) landed her first, then two more musky in just over an hour. Three musky in an hour? UNREAL! I was glad that she had put in some serious hours with me over the season because she truly understood how amazing this weekend of fishing was. All three of her fish came trolling a “salmo skinner” in the same area I got my fish but this time the water was dead calm. I don’t have a picture of her first, it actually chewed through my net but it was a little guy and we named him Houdini because of this.
Now this was all awesome but what I am most proud of happened on Oct 28. I heard from a buddy that he hooked up with a few fish on this same section of river so I headed there for a few more days, this time solo, determined to stick with my fly rod. I have asked around, and from what I know, nobody is throwing flies for musky, or landed one on the lower section of the Johnny thus far. A couple more fishless days went by… Nothing new. Again the bass turned on in the morning but no sign of musky. “Just keep throwing it.” I say to myself a lot. I was casting along the same shoreline for hours just trying to cover ground and finally it happened. Bump. Strip set strip set strip set. I knew I had’em hooked good this time. An awesome battle transpired but being a smaller fish I felt there was no need for the net so when the fish was worn down and boatside I quickly put down the rod and in the boat he came. Quick picture and back in the water to be unhooked. So cool to get one like this and on my own tie none the less! I just started fly fishing this year with the thought of musky as my motivator and just started tying my own flies in august. It’s a hard learning curve but now that I know it can be done it’s gonna be easier to have the confidence to “keep throwin’ it”. Not to mention laugh a bit to myself when I get the strange looks and questions from other anglers.
Anyway just thought I’d share what a special fall season its been for me, and it’s not over yet! Hope you enjoy.
Photo Gallery for Fall Musky Fishing on the Johnny by Marlon Prince