|Husky Musky - Virginia is for Musky Lovers|
When I pitched the idea of a mid-winter trip to my buddy Tom you could see the look of skepticism on his face. After I relayed our guide's stories of not just seeing but catching muskellunge 365 days a year he asked the logical question. "So if we could catch them ANY day, why go in the winter?"
Because Blane says that the fishing is most reliable during Virginia's cold winter months. The Blane in this story is Blane Chocklett, originator of the gummy minnow. Although I'm sworn to secrecy on the details, he is based out of Roanoke which gives him access to several rivers from very large to wadably small - all of which hold musky.
Musky are known as the fish of 10,000 casts. I did the math - that comes out to one fish every 10 days. So in spite of encouraging comments from Blane and others who had tried it, I secretly shared my buddy's limited expectations. We fished two days out of Blane's drift boat and saw about 15 fish, with 6-7 takes and three landed fish. One fish was in 36-38" range which is apparently very common. The other two were huge, beautiful fish. We saw one that didn't eat that was reliably larger. Now I am a believer and already planning a return trip.
Water conditions were fairly clear. Of the 15 fish we saw, many followed the fly right up to the boat. These fish aren't stupid - I know they can see us up there - they are just apex predators and are not overly concerned with the threat of human pond scum floating on the surface. Proof of this lack of concern is that we had two fish eat while within a rod length of the boat. This is not an approximation - we were doing the musky figure '8' and had interested looks and takes.
Chasing 'skees is not a new thing to Blane. He has spent years figuring out seasonal habits and ranges. He has also developed some very large, but very effective flies for this fishery. I'll post a few photos. The biggest fly that I used was 17" long and very bulky. Funny, they don't look so big when hanging from the mouth of 52" fish! Also surprising - they never fouled and could be cast all day long. I won't lie though - they are a pain to throw a long distance and in my hands this required real effort. But the effort paid off. I'd never seen a musky before the trip - now I'm carrying a serious torch for the brutes.
[click here to display pictures]