6 o’clock Monday morning wake-ups are only okay if fishing is involved. This trip would be a bit more technical as we planned to bring my five year-old son, Nolan, as he is still on school break. I am nearing pro-status taking Nolan trout, bluegill and bass fishing. My formula for success is a hydrated body, a caffeinated head and a backpack full of Nolan ammo (aka snacks), but let’s be real—fishing for musky in a small Gheenoe in frigid December slinging 10 weights with flies as big as Baltimore rats IS A DARING IDEAL! Austin, Nolan and I stuck to our plans and loaded the truck and boat and headed out. Chugging coffee and chicken salad sandwiches (odd, yes) we cruised and got our boat launched with the perfect amount of daylight. Nolan was warmly and smartly dressed, and thankfully excited for the day! First run down the river I was fishing first, casting and casting and more casting. 40 minutes in I managed to get the gigantic streamer wedged between two unforgiving rocks, I assume. I have my fair share of snags but this was making my blood boil…can’t cut the line, can’t swim under…stuck. Twenty minutes of trying to get the dang thing free was killing the mood to say the least. I am still curious how it happened but a metal clip holding the fly loosened enough to save the line. We had a small memorial service for that beautiful fly but it was time to move on.
Now it was Austin’s turn to get his fix on and I back-paddled and maneuvered our boat so he had the perfect angle to cast—all while trying to entertain Nolan with quiz type questions, knock-knock jokes, and feeding him gummy snacks (and sweetly explaining for the 7th time why he can’t just sit on my lap when I’m rowing). During the next hour or so Austin had looked back at me for a split second and then I hear him say, “MUSKYMUSKYMUSKYMUSKY!” All while figure 8-ing so hard and viciously. He was a split second late and had stopped stripping thus the monster frightened and darted away. Tough break. The day got more interesting as we pull over to stretch our legs and warm up. We put together a lame fire as Austin is unusually concerned with how numb his feet are. I suddenly became a mom of TWO boys and resorted to warming up gnarly man feet with my hands and under my jacket to bring them back to life.
I needed to get another shot, so again, we motored back up the river and I got myself refocused and stripped a bunch of line out and casted until my forearm started to slightly throb. The boat was gravitating towards the bank a bit too much, but I didn’t care and I just kept casting. Watching the gorgeous fly decked out with chartreuse and flashy colors slither and float in the water was encouraging. We have all had the thought, “Okay, if I was a ____ I would totally eat that, it looks so good!” As I’m mixing up my strips with some quick blasts a whitish beast soars up from under the boat and wrecks my fly! All I know is that I’ll have a stroke if she gets away so I strip set that hook so hard and it feels like I have it in deep. Mother musky is just as surprised as I am and is thrashing around and going under the boat and the phrase “Take away her will” was my only mantra I remember gleaning from a musky video. I muscled her up to be extra sure that hook was in! Nolan was cheering me on in the boat and Austin was absolutely stoked. He was saying many things all at once but the only thing I can remember in retrospect was him exclaiming, “You are such a babe!” when I hooked into the fish. It made me crack up laughing, and when I brought it up later he said, “Hey, Nolan was in the boat and I was going to say much fancier things if little ears weren’t around!” Oh, boy.
He helped net the mad monster and paddle the short distance to the rocky bank. My adrenaline was pumping and a hot sweat broke out all over me. When we safely had her in the water near the shore I just kept screaming we FINALLY caught a musky! It was all so surreal to me and more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. We photographed the beautiful creature we had worked so hard to find and every minute was feeling more and more gratifying. After momma musky had gotten a photo shoot I released her, unharmed, back into the murky depths from which she came.
We headed back to the loading dock and my muscles in my face were aching from smiling so much. I sat up front looking all around at the water and sky and then back to my son because I was overjoyed he had come along to experience why mommy is so crazy about these elusive fish. The only feeling I can compare when we had finally caught the musky was the moments after which I had finally birthed my almost 10lb son. I was in labor for many gruesome hours with him and between anxiety and adrenaline I was a mess. As soon as he was officially delivered I made this happy crying weepy sound that I had never felt or heard come out of me before. He was here! I did it! It may sound like a ridiculous comparison to some but that experience was quite similar-outrageously stoked, relieved and amazed! Totally awesome late Christmas present! When we had gotten back to the truck I was getting Nolan in comfy clothes and then he said, “You know, Mommy, I am REALLY proud of you!” Now, that was the best!
By Katie Blizzard