By Pete Robbins
Halfway through her second day of muskie fishing, my wife commented that she figured that she’d made well over 900 casts. “And since the muskie is the fish of a thousands casts, I guess I’m due,” she explained.
Our guide tactfully explained that the old saying involved “ten thousand casts,” not one thousand, and she was therefore a little bit short. To that point, we’d had a few strikes and plenty of follows, but had yet to put a fish in the boat, despite our grandest efforts. She was sore from lobbing big baits for two days and no doubt wondering why I’d driven her nearly 9 hours one way for an aquatic snipe hunt.
When all hope might’ve seemed lost, I finally managed to check another species off the lifetime bucket list. The strike was brutal, my hookset secure, and the ensuing fight seemed like it took four minutes although it was likely less than 10 seconds. When our guide Matt Quintano pulled up the net he let out a war cry. I thought it was just his relief at getting the skunk out of the boat until he said, “You’ve got something better than a 50 incher.” Indeed, it turned out that my sub-40 inch fish was a tiger muskie, a vividly striped hybrid between our target species and a northern pike. They are rare in St. Clair, and although Matt’s brother had caught a 47 inch specimen earlier in the month, they typically catch one or none in a season.
The whole experience was an adrenaline rush for me and – I fear – the start of a new obsessive and expensive hobby. I will be back to catch the “right” kind of muskie, and another and another and another. Unlike bass fishing, which will always be my first love and where limits are often the name of the game, this is more like hunting a single apex predator, and I can’t wait to short-line a big one on the figure eight and then hang on for dear life.