Why do these things happen to me? Once again I have experienced the outwardly enjoyable and the inwardly unendurable.
As regular readers of this column have likely and gleefully ascertained by now, my prowess as an aspiring muskie fisherman has taken another large hook in the shorts. This was not by my doing, at least not in the normal sense. Then again, nothing seems to be normal when I am muskie fishing.
I watch all the television programs and instructional DVDs. I memorize all the moon phases for months at a time. I act the part admirably and dress accordingly, but somehow I just can't break the muskie jinx. Yes, the much heralded "fish of 10,000 casts" might as well be one-in-10 billion. I'm no closer to catching one of those toothy monsters today than I was 400 or so years ago. Still, I try and try and try.
Jody Dahms, Cottage Grove, Minn., holds a 37-inch muskie prior to release on Big Detroit Lake Friday, July 11. Handling the net was Robert Ecklund, Lakeville, Minn.
Kelli Fundingsland, Minot, revives a 36-inch muskie that she caught moments earlier. The fish was successfully released.
My latest effort was, unfortunately, predictable. Like Charlie Brown kicking a football, only to have it pulled away at the last possible moment, I once again came up short in my quest to hook into Mr. Muskie. No follows. No swirls. No screeches of excitement. No tears of joy. No press releases. No photographs. No Facebook entries. No movie rights. No parade. No phone call of elation to the taxidermist. Only self-inflicted humiliation.
Last weekend I was at Big Detroit Lake at Detroit Lakes, Minn. Full moon, the only known occasions when monstrous muskies erupt, arrived at precisely
6:24 a.m. on July 12. I knew that meant successful muskie fishing would likely begin Friday and culminate Saturday morning with an incredible display of huge, thrashing fish! I was convinced that a wonderful trophy would soon be mine!
I began what proved to be a two-day illusion - a facade if you will - by setting out on known muskie water at mid-afternoon July 11. I had checked and double-checked every piece of equipment, knot and assortment of incredibly irresistible lures. This day, I knew, would be the day I would hoist a trophy of a lifetime!
Alas, it was not to be. Have I mentioned that my daughter, Kelli, once again hooked into a muskie and I had to net the darned thing? Yup, happened again, just like it did two years ago when she scored a 46-inch muskie and had three others at the boat while I had none! This time the muskie was a bit smaller, 36 inches, but a muskie nevertheless.
I enjoyed the moment, to be sure, but knew I was now down 2-zip in muskie fishing. Daughter 2, father 0. No matter, I reasoned, I'd catch the monster of all muskies the following morning and boastfully lay claim to the greatest muskie catch ever!
We were on the water at 5:40 a.m., tired and weary, but I had a marvelous and clever plan which not even a sleepless night could deter me from implementing. You see, we saw a 50 inch-plus muskie swim past the boat the previous day. That sea serpent of a fish didn't care about anything we threw at it but on the following morning, under the full moon, I was certain the situation would be much different. I slyly positioned my boat within a few yards of where that muskie was spotted the day previous and counted the minutes toward the magical presence of the full moon overhead.
Oh yes, that monstrous fish and I would soon have a angry tussle that from which only one of us would emerge - me. Be patient, I kept telling myself. Complete your figure 8s at the boat with a purpose. Stay focused on the depths and maintain precise boat control. That trophy fish was within reach and I knew it. It was exciting!
I tried one fishing rod, then another. Then I switched lures. Nothing worked. Cripes! The full moon was laughing at me and so was that huge muskie, wherever it was. The lake was dead calm and the sky clear, quite a contrast from the previous day of light waves and intermittent clouds. As the golden hour coveted by all muskie fisherman passed without incident, I became increasingly frustrated.
Cast after cast after cast resulted in nothing but frothy water. We boated several pike and a nice largemouth bass, but no muskie! An hour passed. Then another. The excitement I felt a few hours earlier had passed despite my best efforts to resist acknowledging defeat. I limped the boat back to the dock and called it quits.
It took a few days to recover from the humiliation of being whipped by a fish once again. Don't fear, dear reader, for I am now fully recovered and vow to renew my quest for a whopper muskie in the near future. This will happen! Just ask Charlie Brown.