Sunday, August 21, 2011

Musky Mania and Other Mental Afflictions

  I'll be the first to admit that I've been touched by the musky mania bug...again.

Ken O'Brien & his 65Lb. Beast
  Above all other fish in Southern Ontario, the "Fish Of A Thousand Casts" has held mythical status for me as I love all toothy predators and the musky is the largest and the most elusive...until now. I'd spent my formative angling years on Georgian Bay hearing horror stories of waders losing toes and ducks disappearing from the water's surface. In my late teens and twenties I was venturing farther north to the Parry Sound area, wilderness camping with friends and "lunker hunting". During that time period I'd filled a tackle box full with lures larger than my average winter fish, trolled the bays in sun, rain and snow and spent hundreds of hours in a futile quest that I was beginning to believe was better left up to the professionals or dumb luck.

   And then a fellow Torontonian, Ken O'Brien helped show me the folly of my ways in1988 when bass fishing in the same area and caught a 65 Lb. monster on a 4" Rapala and 8Lb. mono! Fifteen minutes into the battle his boat mates urged him to cut the line but Ken's persistence won out and he eventually boated an Ontario record that still stands today. On that day I hung up my musky rod and devoted my on water time to whatever would come my way, forgetting about trophy hunting and enjoying the simple, back to basics joy of angling...UNTIL NOW!

   Our recent forays on the Scugog River have dredged up that long stifled mania, revealing to me that the "fish of a thousand casts", or even ten thousand for that matter, isn't that elusive, only selective in where it resides in numbers. This past Friday morning it turned out to be a fish of ten casts! Tackle Shop and I rented a boat from Jack(ie) Chan at Cross Creek Marina and Resort and proceeded immediately to where, a few days before, TS and his posse had filled the boat with a non stop parade of bass and crappie.

   From the onset the lack of action in a known hot spot suggested to us a large predator was prowling the vicinity and we started working the weed edge with crank baits and spinners. TS had a monster follow his bait right to the surface at boat side and two casts later I had a fish on. It was obviously not the follower we'd seen moments before as it launched itself out of the water, but a good fish just the same. The fish came to hand after a two minute struggle, politely posed for a beauty shot with it's new admirer, and slipped back into the weedy depths none the worse for the experience. not a 60" fish... but an excellent start to the day! I just wish I'd had the foresight to have my fly rod pre-assembled. We continued working the area hoping to entice the larger fish to play but that wasn't about to happen any time soon. With no more musky and the bass nowhere to be found, we started exploring the channels and feeder creeks and after four long hours of absolutely nothing we both agreed to return to the marina to stretch our cramped legs.  Less than a minute into our trolling return, TS had his first fish of the day.
    So we returned to the marina after four hours fishing with a musky each. Tackle Shop's may have been slightly larger but I think I got the better photo (except for the freakishly large "Fred Flinstone" fingers). One interesting occurrence during that morning session was that the only other small fishing boat on the river was occupied by two guys that live just around the corner from TS's house. Last year we'd actually stopped in at a garage sale of theirs! They'd had a different sort of luck during the morning, hoisting a stringer with a couple 20" walleye, but they were more interested in finding and catching bass so, in typical Tackle Shop character, TS shared with them some GPWs and we exchanged info on our catches. Personally...a walleye is the only thing I'd be interested in keeping out of that river at this time of year and of course it's one of those species I still haven't caught on a fly yet.

   After a brief stretch on shore we returned to the river with renewed vigor. I think Tackle Shop had been listening to an old George Carlin rant on pharmaceutical advertising ( These ones are pink, there'll be other colors later) as he produced several bags of worms in a rainbow of colors to back up his now infamous GPW. I resisted the urge to sling a GPW or any other colored worm for that matter, and opted for an old, yet reliable fly pattern... a Mickey Finn. For the next few hours we went toe to toe, "slaying" the panfish population at will, but unable to coax the big boys to come out and play.
   At this point I have to make a formal public apology to TS. As the years have gone by he's nurtured an infinite capacity to sit in one spot fishing for hours on end while I have gone in the exact opposite direction (unless in front of a computer or big screen tv) needing to stay active, on my feet, and fishing in smaller incremental periods with frequent breaks. No amount of quality fish can prevent the confinement at the bow of the boat for eight hours from turning me into a complete douche bag. I'm sorry buddy, I can't guarantee it won't happen again but at least we know that in the future, as the day progresses... I need more frequent "time outs". And maybe an IV drip or sippy cup full of coffee!

   So as I wallowed in my confinement in the bow of the boat, TS navigated back to our original location, broke out his bag of multi-colored worms, and proceeded to educate the local bass on all things wormy. In a 30 minute span TS boated six bass, the largest tipping the scales at about 4Lbs and coming while he was untangling one of the many knots in his new line!


   Seeing that I desperately needed a break, we returned to the marina. I was pretty much finished for the day and told TS to go back out for another session. He offered some of the locals and even Jackie if they wanted to go out for a few hours but found no takers, so rather than going out alone, he decided to pack it in for the day too. Amazingly...after a leftover cup of coffee and ten minutes in a comfortable seat complete with a backrest, and I was feeling almost human again!

   The leisurely drive home gave me time to reflect upon the day's events. In the future I'll have to constantly monitor my moods while in a boat for the sake of my friends. As far as my re-emerging musky mania, several things stand out; fish where they're plentiful and the trophy will come eventually, and make better use of my box of streamers, bunny strips, and deer hair mice and frogs. If they don't get a big toothy...they'll still attract a bucket mouth!


  1. Those be some nice looking Musky. Looks like T.S. should be in a Bass tournament. Great stuff. Nice fish and pics. Tight Lines.

  2. Great pictures and i did notice in one of the shots that TS was useing the GPW again, I think its time they were banned haha, I hope you catch the lake monster, God knows you deserve it,
    Good luck,

  3. Congratulations with the fish!

  4. Great looking fish! Glad you were able to catch some of those wily musky...well done.

  5. you guys caught one of everything! GPW sighting as well

  6. John
    This post just goes to show one never get tired of landing quality fish. Unbelievable Catch. Great post.