Patience…An Alternative to the ‘Run & Gun’
By Craig Sandell © 2007

I have noticed over the years that female Musky anglers seem to hook up more regularly than their male counterparts when they are in control of the selection of the fishing spot and the time spent on that spot. As a general observation, women tend to be more patient than men and don’t fall victim to the "Run & Gun" approach that would have one fluttering from spot to spot like a hummingbird collecting nectar.

Ever since the 2001 Musky season, after being chastised by John Dettloff for not spending enough time fishing spots clean, I have adopted a more "relaxed" approach to covering the water…an approach that has paid off over the years.

So it was with this mindset that my fishing partner Rob Meusec and I took to the waters of the Chippewa Flowage on an overcast September day in 2006. We had been having success with fish over the past week fishing traditional spots like Risberg’s Bar and Church Bar, to mention a couple, so we had good confidence that fish were in an active pattern.

The light Southwestern wind had a mild chop on the water and the air temperature was in the mid 60’s…it was just a great day to be on the water. For those of you who fish the Chippewa Flowage regularly, you have probably noticed that there are very large expanses of water that have high Musky potential…so it is not uncommon to fish for a good hour or two covering one of these potential Musky producing spots.

Rob and I chose a large expanse of water with good Musky potential and, with the wind somewhat at our backs, we began to cover the area. As you can see from the graphic below, the water that we chose had a good combination of shallow water with stumps and weeds. It also had deeper water close by with sloping drop offs.

We changed lures as we progressed from shallow to deep to shallow being aware of what lure the other was using. Experienced Musky anglers will usually try to mix the lure approach to increase the possibility of a hook up.

After about an hour of beating the water, we came up to the water surrounding an isolated island. We hadn’t seen a fish but we were not put off by that…we had confidence on the spot and in ourselves. Rob put on a Bucktail and I put on a Best American Topper. We began to cover the water, moving toward the island with Rob fishing deep and me fishing somewhat shallow.

It is easy to be lulled into a ‘casting trance’ when you have been pounding the water for over an hour…you find yourself going through the motions in an almost relaxed state…that is usually when the strike happens.

As I was bringing my topper toward the boat, I saw the green sided flash of a Musky coming up from under the lure. I had just enough time to tell Rob that I had one raised, when, with about 3 feet of line out, the Musky assailed the lure with a violent thump. To my mind, there is no more exciting aspect of Musky angling than a boat side hit. It is even more memorable when you get the opportunity to see the event unfold.

The fish came out of the water as it tried to shake the Owner® treble but he didn’t have a chance of doing that. I could see that it was hooked well and it was up to me to keep the line tight and avoid the mistakes that sometimes come with the adrenalin surge of a Musky battle. Another leap and a run or two and this Musky was ready for the net.

Rob scooped the Musky up into the Beckman fin saver net and the water battle was over. I got my compound bolt cutters out and cut the treble hooks to remove the potential threat of angler damage. With the Musky free from the lure, it rested calmly in the flattened bag that remained in the water, allowing the fish to pass water over its gills naturally and "catch its breath".

With camera and ruler at the ready, this dandy 43 inch Musky was taken from the net. A couple of photos later, it was back in the water. I kept it upright with my hand on the tail as the gentle release motion passed water over its gills. After a few minutes, I could feel its tail tense and undulate in the side to side motion indicative of a healthy swim off.

There were congratulations all around as we cleaned up the boat and made ready to move onto another Musky haunt. It was a well spent hour and a half resulting in a nice fish and an increase in confidence in the application of patience.

Tight Lines