Outdoor Notebook: Musky fishing in the Northwoods
By Roger Sabota
Special to the Star Journal
Two weeks ago we were rudely interrupted by a device designed to cut into one’s sleep. It’s called an alarm clock. A look at the clock told me that it was 5:15 a.m.
My hunting and fishing partner, better known as the “Osseo Jinx,” was busy emptying his first pot of coffee. The evening before we had agreed to get an early start fishing for muskies. A quick sample of coffee cake and numerous cups of coffee for Tom prepared us for our morning excursion.
The skies were overcast as we headed for a clear lake in Vilas County. As we slipped the boat into the water we noticed that there were three other vehicles in the parking lot at the boat landing.
On the lake we had chosen we began casting to a rocky shore. The first two hours were quiet as we continued to cast. We noticed that the other boats on the lake were motor trolling which has only been legal in Wisconsin for the past year.
We eventually moved toward a weedy shore that had been productive for us in past trips. The first break-line on this shore was over twelve feet of water and the bottom seemed to be quite flat. We worked along the shore where a small bar was covered with thicker weeds.
Just as I said to Tom, “I just saw a flash behind my bait!” I felt a jolt on the end of my line and a very nice musky was hooked. It led us on a merry chase in the weeds. It fought hard but didn’t take too long before Tom slipped the net under the fish. The musky measured 44-inches and had the markings of a tiger musky. After a quick photo we released it to fight again.
We continued to fish until about noon without any further action, but we were quite satisfied with our catch for the day. At least I was!
Two more days of fishing did not put any more muskies in the boat. They seemed to have lock-jaw.
The 32nd Annual National Championship Musky Open Tournament was held in Eagle River Aug. 18-20. According to the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, 1330 musky anglers registered for the tournament, representing 16 states. Every year seems to show an increase in participants. In 2016 there were 1296 tournament anglers.
The largest fish caught was a tie of 48.5 inches. The tie was broken by determining the time the fish was caught. Fish that are caught must be verified by anglers in another boat. Al White of New Berlin took first place. His fish was caught and released on Friday afternoon of the tournament; the other fish of the same size was caught Sunday morning. This tournament is strictly catch-and-release.
The winner of the entire tournament was Chad Rosinski of Conover, with five muskies – 34 inches, 36.5 inches, 36.75 inches, 39 inches and 41 inches.
This event is not a money tournament. The person who catches the largest fish will receive a replica mount that will be presented at next year’s tournament. Others who catch the largest fish in a variety of categories receive trophies.
Additionally, one randomly-selected angler wins a Ranger boat, Mercury motor and trailer (must be present to win). Also, raffle tickets are sold to the general public during the year prior to the tournament for a package that includes a Ranger boat, Mercury motor and trailer but the winner does not need to be present at the tournament.
Last weekend I had the opportunity to fish with our son, Craig, and his two boys, Jack and Mason. Our fishing time was not nearly as long as the time I spent in the boat with “The Osseo Jinx.” Mason was successful at catching panfish but Craig, Jack and I were shut out on muskies. The important part of this excursion was spending time together.
Longtime Northwoods outdoor enthusiast Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.