After a too long drought which I’ve talked about in other posts, Cam and I have finally started putting fish in the net again. Man, what a relief. Again, its hardly a burden to chase fish around as a hobby, but if you know me, you know I’m pretty competitive, and if I’m going to do something, I intend on succeeding. Muskie fishing has a way of humbling you. I love that and hate that and it continually stokes my fire to get better, learn more, and fool those big predators. The last few trips we’ve done just that.
The skunk breaker came a week ago yesterday. It could have been the day before that but unfortunately Cam knocked about a 33 incher off at boatside with a shaky net job. It was a low point for sure as we had put in many days and hours without success and were close to at least having a small fish to hang our hat on. Cam felt worse than I did. In his defense it was a super frisky fish that had just 1 hook in the nose. When he started to lift he wasn’t quite quick enough and the hooks caught the rim of the net and he was gone. We talked often during this stretch about just grinding it out and it all ended the next day when Cam hooked up and landed a nice 35 incher.
Finally back in the saddle we were excited to get out the next day until we saw the weather report for strong north east winds and a wicked cold front. Great! Seems like we just dealt with this twice lately on trips north! The only good thing was it was right on the full moon so we were going reguardless. It was quiet on the lake most of the morning as most had the sense to stay home early. We kept banging away but I wasn’t too confident. Cam was throwing a big bucktail into a stiff breeze and I was lucky enough to turn just in time to see a beautiful ski slip up on it and engulf the plug. FISH ON!.After a tough battle I netted Cam’s thick 41 incher, his 3rd 40 + of the season. What a thrill.
This could have been the beinging of a real big fish streak. Unfortunately, I had a doctor’s appointment in Chicago Wednesday and Cam had one scheduled Thursday. Bummer. We did go out in the evenings on those days but didn’t get any fish. The one highlight was one evening we met Greg and his daughter. They were out casting away also. We really enjoyed talking muskies with them and finding out that Greg’s daughter, sorry, don’t remember hearing your name, was trying for her first ski. Not only that, Cam thought she was cute. Good luck to them And I’m sure they’re enjoying time together just as Cam and I are.
On Friday we got back at it and I got a nice 36 1/2. This time Cam got it in the net and we got our pic before it swam away.
We spent a good portion of the day trying to double up and had a couple nice fish follow to the boat but couldn’t get a second bite and finally called it a day. With the nice weather report we wondered about going out with the crowds Saturday but decided to brave it at least for awhile to see if we could rile up another fish. Cam did this in the first 10 minutes before most people had launched with this 30 incher.
It was real calm for a couple hours and with bunches of shad on the surface all around the lake I put on a bass size jerk bait and got a couple hybrids and Cam got 1 largemouth.It was nice to change gears even if it was just for a little while.
We are getting ready to take a trip to Green Bay for some serious size muskies. To do this we need some trolling rod holders. Unfortunately, my boat doesn’t really want to accomodate them. The last few days we’ve been drilling them into the floor of the boat and you’ll start to see them show up in the pictures as we start practicing with them. Saturday I got my first fish using one of them, a nice 32 incher.
We were happy with a small double for the day and Cam wanted to drive a little which I don’t let him do too much. I was pretty surprised when he said he was hooked up and then landed a little 28 incher to make it a triple Saturday. We left feeling good considering at times we could count 50 boats around us in plain view.
So with the success of having one rod holder in the floor we swallowed hard and drilled holes for three more yesterday. Because of the way this boat is laid out there are very few places they can be so we were worried as we got to the lake this morning. We casted for a couple hours without a sniff and decided it was time to try or new set up. It started out ok but it is pretty tight for room. Before we could worry too much, BOOM, fish on. It was a little crazy getting the other rods in and out of the way but in the end Cam netted a nice 37 incher for me. This was a great way to start a new adventure with 4 rod trolling.
After we got set up and started again the trouble began. On some of the turns lines would foul with one another. Once you got the tangled lines in, getting it untangled was a challenge. We’d start up again to find that some lures ran fine and other liked to spin out at certain speeds. Weeds would foul plugs over and over. Boat traffic, even on a Monday was a challenge. Getting snagged was a major headache and we lost a couple expensive lures that way. Still, we caught a fish. This is something we needed to do because Green Bay is so vast much of the fishing is done trolling. Now we have a bunch of fine tuning to do to become efficient at trolling. And hopefully we’ll also keep catching fish.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Cam and I are on a long muskie drought. Going north last week was suppose to be the cure. As you can guess from the title of the post, that didn’t happen. We were hopeful as always when it comes to going north but the long range weather forecast had us worried even a few days prior to leaving. It had been nice up there with temps in the 80’s, and then as we were getting ready to go a major blast of cold was coming through.
Like our last trip we took off in the middle of the night to take fully advantage of our short trip. I left in shorts and a tee shirt. By the time we stopped for gas I switched to pants and a sweatshirt. As we launched the boat mid-morning here’s how I dressed.
Can you guess how many muskies we caught? Right! 0.
After quite a few hours and a couple of lakes in about 12 to 15 mph winds we decided we had seen this movie before and maybe we should switch gears. Now I’ve been fishing around the Minocqua area for 40 years. Much of that time I’ve chased fish other than muskies. Cam is in love with skis so that’s usual what we do. But this was different, even for him. It was beyond obvious there would be no muskies. And so our bass and northern hunt began.
With water temps still in the high sixties both bass and pike were still a little active. We found some willing fish here and there and finished the day having gotten a few bites. This smallie was the best fish.
Days two and three were much the same. We did try some muskie fishing each day and did see maybe 3 fish total. Fortunately, Cam came around to the idea of smacking bass and pike and we did that pretty well. Conditions weren’t all that nice. Here’s the air temp reading in the car as we launched the second day. I think the lowest I saw was 47. That’s pretty chilly even for northern Wisconsin in July.
We did finally get some sun and the wind did start to behave which allowed us to shed a few layers at times. We continued to catch fish. I think for the trip we caught around 60 bass and 30 pike. Most of the bass came on senkos and jigs while the pike took spinnerbaits.
We really didn’t take many pictures. I’m going to try to get better about that as it many times tells the story better than I do. But really, how many small bass and northerns do guys want to see? On the other hand, one of the reasons for being up there is all the wildlife we get to see up close. On this trip it was really special. It seemed the eagle and osprey were everywhere. On one lake the little otter swam so close you had to stop fishing till they swam away which was very cool. Here’s the only pictures we took of one of the many eagle we saw. While we didn’t get the fish we were looking for, we can’t wait to get back up there.
After four 16 hour days it was fair to call us the Kings of Pain. The only thing missing was the muskies but we’ll take care of that soon enough.
Its just too much fun to have weekday time to chase muskies all over northern Illinois in the summer. You avoid much of the crowd, you can hit the best of the conditions, in short, you can set up to really do some damage. Or not. That’s just how muskie fishing goes. Cam and I have been into a stretch going on two weeks where we can’t catch s@&%! We are still having a blast but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed.
When these stretches come we often punt. Sometimes we switch to other fish, sometimes we do other things all together. Lately we’ve done both. On a recent beautiful day we gave up on fishing and headed out to the Indiana State Dunes with the whole family. Outside of crazy traffic we had a wonderful time in a new spot that I’m sure we’ll return to in the near future. Exploring the dunes, walking the beach, and people watching made for a memorable day. My wife and daughter took lots of pictures of this amazing place.
Me, Emma, and Cam on a life guard chair.
Emma making fun of me thinking.(probably about fishing)
After an adventured like this Cam and I would get back to fishing and promptly get skunked again. So I do have this little 14 foot boat I bought awhile back that wound up being pretty leaky once the paint on the bottom cracked off. I’m not much of a project guy but at the end of last season I actually bought a couple cans of flex seal and tried that. Are you laughing yet? Yeah, it didn’t work. The bottom of the boat was real bad so my next idea was to try truck bedliner. Over the last week or so Cam and I have gotten off what we could of the flex seal and then I have applied a couple coats to every place that looked like it could leak. From the start this boat has been a pain. I wanted a little boat so I could go down to Emiquon and maybe a few other ponds. I tried to sell it on craigslist last winter and couldn’t get any takers. That wasn’t a surprise. Now I had slathered it with bedliner and was driving a long way to potentially stand in water all day long again. Not to smart right?
So we head out early going over and over all the things we need for small boat fishing. I’m pretty sure we have everything when it dawns on me what we don’t have. You guys already know don’t you? Yep. No drain plug. Lost in the grass over the winter. So we’re an hour from home at 5 in the morning with no plug. We use Cam’s phone to make a trip to Washington to their Walmart. And does that solve the problem? No. They only have 1 inch plugs and we need a half incher. I decide we’re into it now and we head down to Riverside Bait and Tackle in Pekin. We called and they said they had what we needed. They didn’t. Their plug was also too big. While Cam and I were headed back to the car talking out loud about our bad drain plug luck, our luck changed. A stanger going to his car with his daughter said he might have what we needed and proceeded to pull a spare plug from his tackle box and give it to us. Wow. Cam and I headed to the lake in such a good mood. What a great guy.
We got to the ;lake and there were only 2 cars in the parking lot on a saturday. That told us about all we were going to need to know about the fishing. We launched and glory be, the boat was mostly dry. There was a little seep of water but nothing to worry about. Cool. Now as for the fishing. It was tough. The wind was out of the south and already blowing over 10 mph. This made it tough with ony a 30 lb. thrust troll to get us around. It took an hour until I finally got a bite. It was nice to finally land a fish. And soon after I got another one.
We went for a good long time with another bite as we looked around for some type of structure to fish. That I could tell, most of the trees that I usually fished were now either gone or well back in the weeds and unfishable. Finally, out in what seemed like open water I got a nice bite and caught the fish of the day.
Cam was trying hard but not having much luck. He did get a crappie that fell off as he lifted it out of the water and then this bass after mostly nothing all morning.
We dropped the anchor around noon to have lunch mid-lake. By this time the wind was really blowing.Some of the white cap waves were over two feet and while we felt we needed to throw plastics and fish slowly to catch fish, it just wasn’t possible. We decided to work are way back to the launch and then call it a day. I got one more nice one on the way in but it was too rough for a picture.
Trailering the boat was tough. Our little troll was no match for those conditions. We got around 10 fish which isn’t too good for the amount of effort we have to put into a trip to Emiquon, but we still had fun and hope to get back now that we have a mostly dry boat. Unless someone wants to buy it!
Tomorrow were headed up to Wisconsin for another shot at Northwoods muskies. Hopefully we’ll hit it right this time and have more to report when we return. Until then, good luck to everyone. Get out there and catch um.