The Golden Days of Musky? They're Now
Note from Ron: This week's blog entry comes to you from my son James Lindner, host of Angling Edge Television.
With the advent of catch-and-release musky fishing, not to mention extensive stocking into new waters, big lunker 'skis are no longer that rare. Fish in the 50-plus-inch range and some near the 50-pound weight mark are becoming more and more common. In fact, a new Minnesota state record was recently caught in a gillnet. Unfortunate as that was, it proves that potential record fish are out there.
It wasn't always that way. As I paged through some archival material at Lindner Media Productions, I came across an old issue of Fishing News which later morphed into Fishing Facts magazine. This particular issue chronicled a milestone event coined "28 Muskies in 6 Days."
I was only 6 years old at the time, but I vaguely remember going into town with the family and the commotion caused by one of the catches as it was brought into Pastica's baitshop in Hayward, Wisc. in September of 1964.
This was obviously long before catch and release. "Bragging fish" displayed in coolers in baitshops was all the rage. My dad (Ron) and my Uncle Al brought in two of the fish for display – 26- and 30-pound muskies. They'd brought in three the day before, then the next day they had my mom with them. That day they caught six fish, which capped a 6-day run of 28 fish. For those times, such a benchmark was felt to be quite remarkable.
The days weren't consecutive, but were spread over a month. Yet the days Ron and Al actually fished were consecutive. The fish were caught on Lac Courte Oreilles (Lake Courderay) in northern Wisconsin in the month of September, mostly on weekends. Most of the fish were caught on Suicks and big, homemade black bucktails with fluted blades. This was all casting and drifting, because trolling with motors was banned.
Keep in mind that the lakes weren't yet fully nor correctly mapped, and modern electric trolling motors were in their infancy and unreliable.
The boats were 12 or 14 feet in length. Many were still wooden deep-Vs and leaky. All had oars. Six-horsepower outboard motors were common, and the big fish were clubbed, not cradled. The minimum length was 30 inches, which encouraged the keeping of small fish.
Of note is the fact that Al and Ron had a very early model depth-flasher, rare for that period of time, and since they were bred on Buck Perry¹s structure concepts, they already knew how to use it.
What impressed me most in rereading this article almost a half century later, and then talking to dad and Al about it, was that the catch itself, while being big news in the musky world at the time, wouldn't make much of a stir today.
Part of the news for the time, however, was revealing. Most of the fish came off one very large bar. The general consensus then was musky wouldn¹t congregate in any numbers in a defined area, and certainly wouldn't be hovering near or over deep water where Ron and Al caught the majority of their fish.
The article, and ones that followed, were instrumental in dispelling some deeply held myths – that musky don't use deep water and that they don't congregate in packs. Everyone believed that individual fish would stake out a territory – usually a weedbed, log or rockpile – and run off any competition.
Today there are five lakes within an hour or so drive from my home in Brainerd, Minn. that many of my musky-fanatic friends are certain hold the state record. In fact, some claim that the record's been broken, but the fish released. Fifty-plus, 55- and even 57-inch fish are being caught with regularity. Sightings of even bigger fish are too prevalent to be purely of the imagination. I've seen some tanks on Mille Lacs Lake myself that would scare you.
Gary McEnelly, our CFO at Lindner Media, says he saw a big, decayed floater (almost falling apart) on Mille Lacs that had to be well over 60 inches long.
We at Lindner Media are out there fishing and filming all the time, and this availability of big fish wasn't the case a decade or so ago. So if the good ole days of musky fishing are anytime, they're today!
|Fishing Day||Individual Musky Weights|
|Day 1||6, 8, 8, 15, 17, 20|
|Day 2||16.5, 22|
|Day 3||7, 8|
|Day 4||8, 10|
|Day 5||32, 25, 20, 16, 15|
|Day 6||30, 26, 23, 17, 17, 16.5|
about the author
Ron Lindner is a living pioneer. A book author, magazine publisher, TV producer, tackle designer, industry analyst and radio host, Ron and brother Al founded the In-Fisherman Network. Ron still fishes close to 200 days a year and co-owns and operates Lindner's Angling Edge.