Taking a Pounding


Last week my wife Hanna finally slayed the St. Clair dragon.

After two trips in two years where she had several follows but no hookups and put nothing in the boat, on our most recent three-day trip she landed five of the toothy jerks, two trolling (including a 50.5” trophy), and three casting. 

Most impressively, to me at least, two of her casting fish came on the Musky Innovations “Pounder” Bulldawg. It’s called a Pounder because it weighs a full 16 ounces, which would arguably make it a scorable fish if landed in MLF competition. The fish showed a decided preference for that over the “smaller” 11 ounce rubber baits, so it seemed to be a no-brainer to stick with the monster.

It is absolutely brutal to throw, with the pain both minimized and compounded by use of a 9’ rod and 400 series reel, if that’s possible. After two years of suffering through it and needing lots of Advil, some casting tips from Captains Matthew Quintano and Spencer Berman made us significantly more efficient. Nevertheless, it is still extraordinarily taxing. As I wrote last year:

A Major League pitcher makes 90 or 100 pitches with a 5 ounce baseball, with breaks after every 15 to 20 throws. Then he leaves the game, showers, sits in a whirlpool, and eats a catered meal after consulting with his nutritionist, his pitching coach, his trainer, his psychological guru and his masseuse. Then they give him four days off, more if there’s a cancellation due to rain.

Musky fishermen get no such breaks, nor is there a paid DL for them to decamp to when injured.

So if the musky is a fish of 10,000 casts, you’d think you have a few throwaway tosses over the course of a fishing lifetime. Actually, the opposite is true. Unlike casting a Senko or a topwater, where you can turn on a dime midcast and adjust to a visible fish or pull back to avoid a previously-unseen snag, once you've started your Pounder windup you're pretty much committed to stay the course. And if you're a guide -- someone who lofts the Pounder for 8, 10, 12 or more hours a day for the better part of six months every year -- you know that you only have so many casts in your back and shoulders before they give out. That means every cast matters, and 10,000 doesn't look so generous anymore.