Muskies are not supposed to be a schooling fish. Their existence as the apex predator in the system means that there will never be a large number of them for one reason and traditional belief was that they were territorial loners. Turns out they are not loners and when the conditions are right they will even school up to take advantage of wind, weather, and baitfish movements.
I was out with my good friend Colin McKeown who is the host of the New Flyfisher. Colin makes one of the finest fishing programs on television by combining great cinematography, breath taking scenery from urban, remote, and worldly locations, and at the same time teaching technique while performing the art of the fly cast. We have shot for many years and despite being very lucky with cameras present for many other shows, Colin and I have failed miserably at putting muskies on the fly and into the net. High pressure, blue skies, dirty water, big winds, bad luck, missed hooksets over and over; I have many reasons/excuses for failing at such a high rate with Colin. And yet we have put some fantastic fish in the boat on the fly for other anglers at a good rate. In case you didn’t know, musky fishing is not a fair sport.
Last week we had a severe storm with a lot of rain coming into the area. It was big. One of the best times you can be on the water for muskies is pre-front or pre-storm conditions. Special things happen and big fish let their guards down in the biological motivation they get from a rapidly falling barometer.
No one like getting their butt handed to them over and over and muskies do that to people. If you have a friend with a big ego, turn them onto muskies……… For Colin and I both it had become a mission that must be completed. We were rewarded that morning with the craziest musky action Colin has ever encountered and something I have rarely seen. We were in a school of muskies.
One person casting a fly, 12 attempted takes, numerous hookups, and two in the boat. It was an incredible six hours and it was all caught on film. I hope you make the time to catch this episode this fall as it was something special to be a part of.
The two pictures show graphically what an approaching front looks like and then the aftermath. The fish ate as the storm approached and then as is often the case, stayed on the feed into the first hour plus of the deluge. We stayed until everything in the boat was thoroughly drenched and the camera said it had had enough.
Thanks Colin for all the great years of sharing a boat, a hunt, and so many stories and laughs together.
A BIG PS – As musky anglers we must be concerned about stressing our muskies, especially in the warm water of the summer months. It is a common concern in the musky community that fly fisherman will have long stressful fights with muskies and this is very bad for them. It has been my experience that fly fishermen who seek muskies on the fly, are very proficient fly fishers who have a wealth of experience throwing big flies and fighting big often salt water fish. It is a spectacular thing to watch a musky take a fly and how much control a fly fisherman is able to exert on the fish. The fights are very different than those on conventional tackle but still surprisingly short. I have not seen any fly fisherman in my boat compromise the health of a musky due to stress or anything else. The hook damage to the fish is also less and the unhooking time is also faster with a fly.
John M. Anderson
We produce BIG fish!!
be good, do good, live well
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