odiferous, un-kept and obsessed…all descriptions of the Muskie angler on the
prowl for this fresh water shark. We have all seen him…up before dawn and
stumbling his way down to the dock, poles and tackle box in hand. Setting out
from the dock, his boat is consumed by the morning mist as he makes his way to
the place where Muskie are found.
Now, some would find this
description of the dedicated Muskie angler almost ‘romantic’. Truth be
told, however, there is a high price paid by the Muskie angler for this
narrowly focused pursuit of this single tenacious species…a price that is
not only financial, but physical and emotional as well.
Each year there has been a
change in what has come to be known as the ‘typical’ Muskie angler. I noticed the change
at Muskie Shows over the past few years. You are no longer fighting your way
through the isles at Musky shows. The crush of Musky anglers has dwindled to
a relative trickle
a bit each year and they are somewhat better dressed, there are father/son duos and
they seem to be more interested in
finding someone who could put them on to a fish rather than discovering the
tactics and methods that would allow them to find their own quarry.
Is this an aberration? No...Muskie shows in
Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota enforce the
observation. What changed? Everything has changed.
Today the ‘instant
gratification’ syndrome of society has made its way to Muskie angling and
with that attitude has emerged a new perception of the Muskie angling sport.
Muskie are no longer exclusive to
the Northern latitudes and can be found all across America. The modern Muskie
angler is more disposed to ‘stay in his own backyard’ than to travel
hundreds of miles to fish unless he can be ‘guaranteed’ a Muskie.
Traditional Muskie resorts all over Wisconsin are seeing a change in their
clientele from Muskie anglers to families on vacation. Fishing pressure for
Muskie has, consequently, fallen off sharply.
To traditional Muskie anglers like
this is great…less competition on the water…less boat traffic in
traditional Muskie areas and a more relaxed approach to the hunt. But what about
the future? Will the sport of Muskie angling be relegated to the same category
as deep sea marlin fishing, where day fishermen are willing to spend money to
have someone ‘catch them a fish’ rather than learn how to do it themselves…not
likely...not in this or any economy.
What is more likely is that this
‘modern Muskie angler’ will evolve into someone who used to fish for
Muskie or someone who joins the ranks of other dedicated Muskie anglers who
have come to realize that there is no ‘magic bullet’ to being successful
at Muskie angling.
To all of you who are trying out
the adventure that is Muskie angling…WELCOME! I would, however, submit to
you that although the thrill of having a Muskie on the line is exhilarating,
the thrill of actually planning a hunt, executing that plan and catching a
Muskie that you discovered is an experience that will enrich you all your
I’ll see you on the water.