The easiest rule to learn about muskies is: they don’t care about the rules. There are definitely “rules” you can follow to increase the odds of getting a muskie to eat. And there are a lot of them. Muskie fisherman are perhaps the most guilty of over analyzing when a fish will eat. Moonrise, moonset, barometric pressure, cold front, warm front, low light, midday, fish deep, fish weeds, fish big, fish small, fish slow, fish fast, etc. If muskies knew these rules, it would make things a heck of a lot easier. Unfortunately, muskies do what they want, when they want. For me, that is one of the biggest draws. I’m sure I’ll never figure them out…and I love that.
On a recent November day, Mark and I headed out on a muskie hunt. The weather looked awful for fishing. Clear blue skies, high barometer, east wind, and bright sun. Its the type of day that screams for you to stay home and get things done around the house. Mark and I hadn’t been out in a few weeks, so we planned to go regardless. The day didn’t start out so great when I realized I forgot my rods. Pretty sure I’ve never done that before. I think I stared at the back of my truck for a few minutes thinking they would materialize. No luck. I informed Mark that I was an idiot, and that I would be back. I remember driving home and thinking this was a sure sign that fishing was going to suck.
I returned an hour later and was pleasantly surprised Mark had moved a decent fish. I thought for sure it would be one of those fall days in which a muskie never showed itself. A short time later, Mark gets a boatside eat. Like most boatside eats, there is instant chatter about what the hell just happened. Our excitement quickly turns to silence when the fish runs the line through the motor, causing it to go slack. Game over. It doesn’t take long before we joke about screwing up our only chance of the day. To our surprise, we continued to move fish. Then I see a large, mustard brown figure tracking my fly from below. She is at least in the mid 40s range and thick. A few minutes later I had her up again, but she doesn’t eat. Still a good sign to see a big female moving. A short time later as I watch my fly approach the boat, I see a white mouth. It happens in a split second, but it always seems like slow motion. A large white mouth appears, and before I can get a word out, the fish is headshaking just below the surface. “Fish.” I would say there were a few tense moments, but to be honest, I think that is a given with every decent muskie. We get the fish in the net and snap a few pics.
Rules, broken. We went from thinking it was going to be a day of casting practice, to one fluke eat, that turned into two eats and one big girl raised. Thats muskie. They don’t eat on days you swear are perfect, and then get active on days it should be terrible. They are stubborn, unpredictable, and moody. Quite a bit like women, actually, and I love them dearly.