Outdoor Notebook: Muskies do eat and they do exist
Almost every day we talk with someone who says, “We are still waiting for summer and already fall is coming.” They mention how cold it was last winter and how much snow we had! Perhaps I am different from many of our friends, but I prefer fall over any other season. Each year as the temperature begins to drop, I am forced to make a decision:should we spend our time hunting or fishing? If you stand back and look around, you’ll see summer edging its way out. During the past several weeks we have been noticing a few colored leaves along the shores of area lakes. The black birds are beginning to gather in large groups in preparation for the long flight south.
The fawns that were born this past spring are starting to lose their white spots. We are told that fawns are born during each month of the year, as difficult as that is to believe. The survival rate of some of those fawns born during the cold months would most likely be low.
Perhaps one of the most attractive parts of this change in the outdoors is the beauty of birds as they dress in their winter wardrobe. I enjoy watching the male wood ducks. They look elegant with their beautifully colored feathers. Wood ducks are reclusive and prefer not to be seen by a human; perhaps that is why I enjoy sneaking up close and watching them.
One evening I was fishing in a small bay off the Wisconsin River near town when I saw two male woodies swimming near the back of the bay. It was a very quiet evening, so I just sat there quietly in my boat and soon there were seven male woodies in the bay. I never found time to throw a single cast.
Presently, we see mallards swimming near the reeds on most of the lakes we are fishing. We recently saw a hen mallard with a large family in one area up-river. One of the residents of that area said that this little hen had 22 chicks.
There is no shortage of geese in the area. Some of the young geese are almost full-grown at this time. Some home owners along the shores of lakes and rivers are not very happy with the geese since they make such a mess on the lawns where they come up to eat the grass.
Some of our readers will recall that early this summer I talked about our 14-year-old grandson, Will Schroeder, from Somerset who was working hard to catch a musky. We fished quite hard in June and did not even see a musky. Last weekend Will was able to return for a few more days of musky fishing. When he got out of the vehicle, he held up his musky rod and said, “I really want to catch a musky this time, Grandpa!” I reminded him about the comment he had made in June that, “Muskies either don’t eat or they don’t exist!” He wasn’t going to give up.
The next day we slid the boat off the trailer and checked the screen of our GPS device. We began fishing a rock bar that dropped from two feet to 18 feet in the length of a cast.
After casting for perhaps a half-hour, his rod bent and he hollered, “I have one!” The fish put up a very hard fight, jumped and came completely out of the water. Will led the musky to the waiting net. It swam off four times. On the fourth run, when we got the musky into the net, Will yelled, “Is it legal, Grandpa?” The fish was definitely legal size. It measured 44 inches!
Needless to say, Will was one happy fisherman and, as one would expect, so was his grandfather! This time his comment was, “I guess those big fish do eat. Sometimes!”
P.S. Two days later, Will caught another musky (not as large as the first one) and lost another after a great battle. He is now a believer and anxious to fish again.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.