My foot was tapping on the thinned planks inside the cabin door. Grumbling came from the inside of the fridge, as my fishing partner was scrounging up the leftover northern that was fried up the previous night.
"I thought we agreed to take it easy this morning. Make a real breakfast, read the paper."
As it happens from time to time, the previous three days on the water were tediously slow; follows were few and far between. Nonetheless, when you are from Wisconsin, wasting precious fishing time in Ontario is an abomination; you spend every waking minute on the water that you can, despite weather conditions. After casting 15-hours each day in full sun, with limited relief from the thin wind, our camp was whipped.
One sniff of the fresh air on this particular morning, however, gave me all the energy boost I needed. The wind had graciously picked up, coming in from the southeast, dragging in some cloud cover.
"I got a feeling," I replied.
The words hung in the air for a moment as he studied my face. Any fisherman who has spent his share of time on the water knows that those words can be spoken often, and often without merit. But sometimes......well, sometimes you just do what the fishing gods are telling you to do.
We headed out to the spot. This is one of those spots in Ontario that haunts your dreams for months. Just magnificent, from the size of the boulders, to the health of the weed beds, to the steep breaks. You simply just can't ask for more, sometimes.
The anticipation of casting over those boulders, down deep along the break, or up higher on the bar between the weed beds, weakens your knees. And while, in general, I would agree with my little nephew's notion that "muskies are nice", I wouldn't be dangling my toes over the edge of that abyss anytime soon. Musky Heaven.
We stopped the motor a bit before the start of the run. Line check. Lure selection. Hook sharpening. Pulse rising. Go.
The wind was coming in just right to push any ill-fated bait fish up on the bar. My partner was casting up high on the bar, over a weed bed, then across the beginning of the steep break. I targeted a break between two bars of boulders which transitioned to an edge of a weed bed.
My first cast produced nothing more than an increase of trembling in the knees. My black and gold Grandma looked way too delicious, however, riding along that weed bed. As I neared the weeds with the second cast, I gave my lure two jerks and let it pause. Just for that one sweet second. A half of a reel later, she was on.
And she was mad. The chop on the water made it difficult to see the musky right away, but it wasn't long before I saw her size when she started thrashing at the surface.
"Get the net! Get the net!"
The musky took some line and headed back towards the weeds. Just hold on tight. After an eternity, I was finally able to pull her back from her retreat and lead her toward the boat. I held my breath as she neared the boat, which muskies often take as a sign to take another run or two. Sure enough, one look at the boat and she took another dive, dogging under the boat.
[Oh, the strength of a big musky! Don't ever let anyone fool you with some silly talk that the smallmouth bass, or the blue gill, is the best fighting freshwater fish, pound for pound. I certainly enjoy catching both, but if they can't pull you right out of your socks, we're not really talking the same game.]
Painful patience. With arms burning and adrenaline skyrocketing, I moved her away from the back motor as much as I could. With a little luck, she took a turn right toward the net. A few seconds later, she was in. A rock star net job!
What a lunker! Just a beauty. Not my longest musky, but certainly my biggest. What a thrill! A short rest in net, then a successful release - all icing on the cake.