brothers and two of his acquaintances. We went to a big lake north of
Peterborough, and we were on the water by 7AM. It was a beautiful day, so even
though the first few hours were uneventful, the company was pleasant, the lake
was relatively quiet since it was the middle of the week, and we saw an osprey
tending to her brood in a low pine tree on a rocky island. This was cool for me
because even though I know of at least half a dozen osprey nests in the
KW-Cambridge area, all of them are on artificial platforms. So it was good to
see a natural nest of a bird that was in serious trouble 35 years ago.
Anyways, the day was about muskie fishing. 4 of us had spent 4 hours
each casting giant baits with only a couple of strikes to show for all that
effort. The smallest bait, a 9" long Jake (built to imitate a bass or a large
perch), was tied to my line, while the other lures being used were large soft
plastic lizard-like baits called Bulldawgs. Sometime around 10:30 we were
fishing a strait between 2 islands when a fish took my bait. I shouted "Fish
on!" and the battle began. It was obviously a good-sized fish, but my gear was
pretty heavy, intended to corral giant 40lb muskie, so my gear held up nicely
after 5 or 6 years of hibernation. The fish took off, and Bill and Mike
prepared to land him, one at the controls of the boat, the other coaching me and
keeping the net handy. My brother Nathan was watching everything, too. Then
the muskie jumped.
The boat that we were fishing on was an 18' Starcraft that is very
versatile and is perfect for family outings or for fishing. It handled four men
casting giant lures, from each corner, without any trouble at all. From my
position on the bow, my feet would have been easily 18" above the water, and I
am a fairly tall man, so my eyes would be over 7' above the surface of the
Well, this fish jumped, and I don't think that I will ever forget it: he
jumped and it seemed like he was eyeball to eyeball with me, maybe 50' or 60'
out from the boat. He jumped vertically, his black eyes in sharp contrast to
the white belly, forming a classic 'S' in mid-air with his tail 3' or 3.5' above
the water, and his head skying 7' over the lake. For an instant, time stood
still as I stared at this airborne muskie and he returned the stare.
Then he flopped back into the lake, spitting out my lure as he hit the
Everyone in the boat got a great look at him and guessed that he was
about 40" long and maybe 12 or 13 lbs. If that sounds like I am exaggerating,
well maybe, but not by much. Bill and Mike have been muskie-hunting for years
and have landed and released dozens if not hundreds of them. Plus, a little
while later, Bill boated a 41", 12.1lb fish that appeared very similar size-wise
to mine. The other fact to remember about these fish is that they can often
reach lengths of over 4' and 35lbs in weight. The Canadian record is 58+" and
Two more smaller muskie were boated that day, although none by Nathan
or myself. A couple others struck, and one nearly was netted, but I looked over
just in time to see a big, long tail disappear into the depths below the boat.
Later, in the afternoon, we were casting lures very close to an island, and I
had a giant Rapala minnowbait on. I could see the sandy bottom of the lake
about 8' below, with a big log that vanished out into the depths. I watched as
half a dozen ciscoes (a muskie's favourite meal) swam by, and then a few feet
behind them a small -meaning 3+' long!- muskie came lazily by. This was right
off the bow of the boat, so I stuck my Rapala right in front of his nose, and he
ignored it. Completely.
That is why muskie are called the 'fish of 10 000 casts'!
We actually had a very good day, boating 3, with 3 or 4 other strikes, and seeing
osprey, a brood of mergansers, a loon and her chick, and very good weather.
I acually did catch a fish that day-a smallmouth bass hit the 9" Jake
that I had retied to my line at the end of the day. The bass was as big as the
lure! But it would have been a much better day had I caught that jumping 40
Special thanks to Bill and Mike for letting us tag along for a day!
It was a great day, and a valued opportunity.