There is this little water full of smaller muskies that I reserve for some special friends. This weekend, two special friends had the opportunity to get the invite to fish there with me.
My friend Kazu was taking a trans Canada trip to hunt for species. If you think I was nuts, Kazu should be institutionalized He drove from Vancouver all the way to New Brunswick and knocking off species as he goes. Kazu didn't have a chance to catch a muskie when he was living and working in Ontario, so knowing that he'll be in Ontario on his trip, I arranged a muskie weekend so we can try to put it on his list.
My other friend Michael was a special case. I usually don't take newly acquainted friend to special spots. However, there is something about Michael's interested in fishing, his willing to share fishing knowledge, his interest in catching species and his great personality that somehow just clicked with my own personality. I had already taken him to two of my special spots...so what's a third, right?
So that sets the mood for this trip...two friends that I want them to get on their first muskies.
On Friday, we met at my apartment at 3pm, loaded up the trucks and off we drove toward out muskie paradise. At 7pm, we arrived at our campsite and quickly set up camp, started a fire and had our meal. By 11pm, we were ready to get to bed, anticipating a long day of muskie hunting.
Saturday 4:45am came quickly. I woke up to this beautiful scene.
By 6am, we arrived at our muskie waters and started unloading our gear and Michael's canoe. Before launching, we fished the area by shore but found no muskies. After launching, we started working methodically along one shoreline. We were throwing some bass spinnerbaits for the smaller muskies in these waters. It was maybe 10 minutes into our day when I had a muskie followed by lure to the boat, and Michael had the chance to see his first muskie in person chasing after my lure on the Figure 8 (more like large circles in the canoe). However, the fish lost interest...and we were back to searching.
Further down the shoreline, we had an incident that will forever labeled the location as "Glasses". Long story short, yours truly lost his pair of glasses to the muskie gods...and never to be seen again. We tried mining for it with a strong magnet, and Michael even put on swim shorts and goggles to dive for it...but the cold water, deep depths and tea colour water made it very difficult to located. Luckily, I had a pair of prescription sunglasses that saved the weekend for me...otherwise, I would be blind for the weekend.
Anyways, back to the fishing story. Before I lost my glasses, we worked the steep shorelines that was "Glasses". This area had a shallow bay near it, plus a dock, plus a rocky steep shoreline. On my third cast into the area in between two small patches of lily pads, I had a fish hit my muskie bucktail twice, both times it had managed to miss the treble hook. I had the muskie following to the boat, so Michael had the chance to tease the fish with his Figure 8. The fish showed some interest initially but this fish also backed off after a few passes.
We continues down the shoreline passing "Tree 1" and "Tree 2". I'll talk about these two spots a little later on Day 2. However, these two trees were not very productive on Day 1. Neither was "Tree 3" on our first pass.
We then arrives at a little cove and I got hit again on the first cast. I was hoping it was finally a muskie...but it was just a bass.
We then started fishing into "Bay 1"...which was actually formed by an island separating from the main waters. "Bay 1" was not very productive...but we had a false alarm when Michael caught this rockbass.
We fished further ahead and found "Bay 2". "Bay 2" was a very nice bay. It had a deep basin with a sloping deep weedline containing very healthy, green cabbage weeds and other types of mixed weeds. This deep slope then progressed to a shallow flat that is filled with lilypads, some type of grass and a lot of other emergent plants. The area was perfect habitat to hold shallow water muskies and deep water muskies. We worked this bay quite well.
On our first pass, the wind had pushed our canoe up onto the shallow flats. Michael, seeing the topwater opportunity being presented, put on a buzzbait and started working the very shallow water. On his first few casts, he had a large fish exploded twice on his buzzbait. Unfortunately, on the second hit, the lure was just passing some emergent plant stalks and that prevented the fish from fully taking the lure. It was amazing seeing a good size muskie in shallow water blowing up on a buzzbait though.
As we paddled out of the shallows, I was just shaking some weeds off my bucktail spinner when out of nowhere a small muskie LAUNCHED itself out of the water trying to grab my airborne lure!!! All of us thought the fish would end up in the canoe!!! It was totally insane.
We worked through the bay pushing all the way to the end of a shallow marsh hoping to find more active fish...but we had no further action. It was getting to midday, so we decide to work our way back to the launch.
On the way back, we passed by "Tree 3" again. Michael spotted a small muskie sitting very shallow and made a perfect cast to it. The muskie followed the lure and was interested for a bit before turning away and disappeared.
We worked all the way back to the launch without anymore excitement. It was at this time that Kazu said he had a headache (it was really sunny and hot), so he was not to join us on the afternoon fishing. Michael went to get a pair of goggles can changed into swim shorts so he could try diving for my glasses.
With a brief rest, Michael and I went back at it. At first, we went to dive for my glasses. However, after an hour in the cold depths, Michael finally gave up. We started fishing the same shorelines. This was now about 5pm. When we got to this steep rocky shoreline with some small granite cliffs, we worked a stretch that had lily pads and some fallen branches very close to shore. I casted to a patch of lilies that had some pine branches overhead. As soon as the bucktail spinner landed, I saw a flash and it was ON!
This was a muskie for sure...a small one, but a very feisty one. Michael tried to get the net...but I had leashed it with a carabiner clip that Michael couldn't reach from the back of the canoe. Just as I was pondering our net-less options for landing this fish, the fish made up our mind for us by jumping INTO THE BOAT!!! No word of a lie...this little muskie jumped right into the boat, landed right by my feet, and the hook popped out the second the fish landed in the boat. I had to quickly bend forward to pounce on the fish because it was on it way trying to jump back out of the canoe! It was not the preferred way to land or handle a fish...but we had to deal with what's given. Finally, the fish settled enough for me to hold...
As you can see, a larger muskie tried to make a meal of this fish...and the scar is very visible.
The other side...no scar.
Unfortunately, that was all the action on this evening. We called it a day at 7pm. We had to load the canoe back on the truck and a 30 minute drive back to campsite. I did wonder what sunset and dusk may bring though.
Back in camp, we were starving since we had barely eaten all day (Muskies are fish of 10,000 casts...who had time to eat? We cast and covered all day!) I made a wicked campfire with some perfect coal...and the steaks and sweet potatoes cooked very nicely. After dinner, Kazu and Michael retired early while I stayed up to cooked hot dogs, extra sweet potatoes and corns for the next day's lunch.
Again, 4:45am arrived very soon. We broke camp, packed and head off to the launch. This is our Day 2 - our last chance for muskie glory. Today, I mostly played guide and trolling motor. I sat at the back of the canoe, identifying areas to probe, pointing spots to cast, and controlling the canoe such that it was in perfect position to fish the various spots. I actually enjoyed it a lot and I had all day to work on my sculling techniques. We started working the same shoreline as the morning of Day 1. When we got to "Tree 1", Michael and Kazu gave it a few casts to the fallen branches without any takes. I took my bucktail spinner rod and made a cast tight to shore and retrieve the lure right over two large branches. As the lure neared the canoe, we saw a 40" class muskie followed the lure in but turned and disappeared into deep water as soon as it saw us. DARN!
"Tree 1" was located on a very steep shoreline where the water dropped from shore to about 10-15 feet of water at a 45 degree angle. A couple of fallen trees extended from shore into the water creating the perfect big fish structure. Further down the shoreline, "Tree 2" had the same characteristics, so I quietly positioned us into casting range to work the area. Michael had put on a larger Rapala at this point. A few casts later, Michael teases a 30" class muskie out of its cover and the fished followed to the boat. I quickly cast my bucktail spinner and retrieved it to the boat and saw the muskie turned on my lure. I progressed to a seamless Figure 8 at the end of my retrieve and the muskie started chasing it. One pass, two passes, three passes, four passes, five passes...the fish followed the lure round and round, accelerating with the lure on the straight-a-ways, slowing and turning on the turns...but at the end, the muskie just dropped back and disappeared! Man...these fish are frustrating sometimes!!!
We had only worked one side of this tree. When Michael cast to the other side of the tree, another slightly smaller muskie followed to the boat and chased Michael's lure on the Figure 8. Just like the other one, the fish lost interested after a couple of turns! We couldn't believe it!!!
We worked out way to "Bay 2" and started drifting down the deep weedline. On the first pass, Kazu had a fish followed his spinnerbait. The fish however disappeared before we could do any Figure 8. A couple of casts later in the different direction, Kazu had a fish chased his lure all the way to the canoe and slammed the lure at boatside! Unfortunately for Kazu the hook did not set on the fish! I was getting a bit upset that these fish will just not give us a break!
Michael started tossing his buzzbait in the shallow water again and got a blowup. We all got excited until we saw a bass jumped out of the water...sigh...bass...
On the same pass, Kazu got a hit on his spinnerbait and it was a good fish. We saw a long shape and got all excited until we found out it was a 5lb walleye. Kazu tried to drag the fish quickly to my net but the fish jumped off on the surface. Oh well...it's not a MUSKIE!
We worked the other side of the bay...and that's where I thought I'd be a little silly. I took out my 10-wt hoping to get a muskie on the fly. Little did I know that a small muskie swiped at my fly on my first test cast and strip...but that was it for muskie on the fly for the day. It was just too difficult casting in a canoe fighting with some wind and position the canoe at the same time.
We started working deep into the bay hoping to find some more small muskies deep in the weeds. Michael again gave us a false alarm with yet another bass. This would be Michael's PB largemouth bass though...
A little down the shoreline, Kazu had another fish hit and he said it was a small muskie for sure...ARGH!!! I was sooo hoping to put these guys on muskies...and the fish just won't cooperate!
Not too long later, Kazu hooked up again, but immediately we saw yet another largemouth jumped...how disappointing...
We worked the bay all the way to the marsh. It was now 11am and we had to start heading back. We worked "Tree 3", "Tree 2" and "Tree 1" for nothing. The muskies must have left for deeper water during the midday. When we got to the outside bank of a large bend, it had always looked good but yet to produce. Michael and Kazu were casting to the steep bank with a few fallen timber when Kazu hooked up and got us all excited...when it was yet...another bass...a smallmouth this time...
We worked our way back to the launch. Kazu had waved the white flag and was happy enough to have had 1 follow and 2 misses. Michael really hadn't had enough...but it was already 2:30pm and we had to call it a trip. It ended up a wise decision since the sky got dark and it started thundering, pouring and blowing really badly at about 4pm. We could have been caught in that storm exposed if we had continued to fish. Before we left for home though, we chatted with a local and she told us of a "Use at own risk" campsite on the water that we could use on the next trip. We checked it out and it had a nice dock and grassy area to camp. We tossed a few casts off the dock before the storm and I had something knocked my bucktail spinner. I didn't see what it was...but it was a solid knock.
I was pretty disappointed that Kazu and Michael did not get his muskie, but we did give them hell over the 2 days. We totalled 1 caught, 4 solid strikes, 5 follows and one airborne missile launch (hehe) from muskies between 20" to 40". That was pretty good stats I guess for a bunch of muskie hack jobs. We also caught a few nice bass for some false alarm. I had a great time camping and guiding two good friends...and that made it a great weekend already. I just wish some muskie catches could have made it an exceptional weekend.
Last edited by MuskieBait; 07-17-2012 at 02:40 AM.