And on the sixth day, Pete caught a trophy.
I’ve now fished a total of seven days for muskies, fish of 10,000 casts, on what is generally considered the most prolific major fishery in the world. I’ve caught eight of the smelly, prehistoric jerks – three casting and five trolling – and one of them was a trophy.
This past Sunday’s third fish was just a hair over 50 inches, which as far as I can tell is roughly the equivalent in terms of status as a 10 pound bass. It fought hard, stripping drag until the reel was almost spooled. It was an exhilarating fight on the fish of a lifetime, and minutes after it made it into the net my heart was still beating through my chest.
I’ve caught one double digit bass, a 12 pounder on my 42nd birthday. That one took well over 30 years of trying, and in the five years since I’ve come close to 10 on several occasions, but haven’t exceeded it again. It really felt like I earned that one. This fish, on the other hand, seems to have come too easily. Too many musky freaks fish their whole lives without catching a fish in that range, and I joined the exclusive club in remarkably short order. Of course, I’m thrilled that I caught it. No one goes out fishing hoping to get skunked or hoping to catch only small fish. We all want the most and the biggest. But much of the enjoyment and satisfaction that we get from this sport, and from musky fishing in particular, is that not anyone can do it, and that for every great day we have we also have lots of ones that we’d characterize as subpar. I was given a gift, and I’m not sure that I fully appreciate how valuable it is.
Given my affection for taxidermy, I was very tempted to get a replica made of big toothy, but I think I’ll wait until I catch another in that size class. That may never happen, and I’m ok with that.