During the whirlwind pre-Halloween weekend, I spent a 14-hour round-trip on the road listening to books on cd. Then, with friend and Arrowhead Fly Angler guide Ouitdee Carson, we sandwiched in a Saturday of fly fishing followed with a night’s entertainment at the Musky Ball. On that pretty fall day, Ouitdee and I put-in at Crowley Dam and we fished the Flambeau River. It was cool to watch my buddy pull his pontoon down along a steep, staired path most other boat-owners could not follow. I got to fish immediately below the dam but my intermediate line simply didn’t cut it in deeper, fast-current waters. Next, I rowed downriver while my friend painted water with a new, perch-colored ‘Supercharger’ fly. Within 15 minutes we boated a Pike and a few casts later, he landed the only Musky of the trip. It was hooked in fast-current, shallow water but at the tail of a deeper seam. As usual, we fished later than planned and finished by trailering the pontoon in the dark. That night, we learned from other anglers that even a Musky follow that day had been hard to come by. My buddy had done well.
Quickly, we cleaned up, tried to wake up, and then headed to Boulder Lodge for Musky guide Brad Bohen’s Musky Ball. My friend wore casual attire while I dressed as a Musky Fly, complete with bug eyes and a hook. The night was made up of food, friends, music, beer, and a tad of moonshine. Not having seen Brad all year, I gave him a hug and accidentally poked his –oops!- with the ‘hook’ protruding from my costumed belly. Sorry Brad. During the evening, we watched a tall white rabbit do the smooth groove on the dance floor & noted that ‘Eddie Munster’ could simply replace his pointy ears with a guitar and be mistaken for AC/DC’s Angus Young. We were also drawn outside to a campfire set in a circle of pines and listened to a bearded Scottish fly angler tell his riddles.
The following morning, my friend headed back home to his family, I explored some Hayward area waterways, and then made the long trek home, recalling the new memories and grateful for the chance to make and share them.
2-DAY SERVINGS OF MUSKY ON A MULTI-SPECIES ROADTRIP (Nov 4-8, 2011)
Late Friday I was back at Boulder Lodge, outside of Hayward, WI. I spent a night which would ensure me not to sleep in –I car-camped. Saturday morning I drove to meet buddy Ouitdee at the Spider Lake Café, which is the point of where this fish tale begins. Let’s summarize: On Friday, Ouitdee fished Chequamegon Bay for Smallies. On Monday, Doug, another fly angler from Duluth, and me went to the Brule River in search of Steelhead. Ouitdee was already there. The MN-WI guide was enjoying his 100th day this year of fishing. By Tuesday, we were all either home or… ahem… bound for home. However, Saturday and Sunday were all about Musky and those who love to chase them.
The weekend weather predictors proclaimed clouds and wind, & this was true, except Sunday was more windy than expected. Ouitdee and I debated which water to fish Saturday and if we should chance different put-in and take-out spots for the pontoon should the wind get out of hand. We decided on a ‘safer bet’, electing to meet at the café for breakfast, then fish a single area of the West Fork of the Chippewa River. As soon as we met at the café, plans changed and we headed off for new waters, bigger fish, and the fun of fishing with MCO Musky guide Brian Porter and his friend Chris Willen.
The wind seemed to get brutal each time I rowed. I was thinking of this when my friend voiced the same thing, somehow allowing me to feel better about the situation. In retrospect, I guess I’d rather have the wind kick up when rowing than when casting with a fly tied on a 5/0 hook. However, on the homestretch of the trip, Ouitdee rowed and the wind kicked up again, this time giving very little mercy to my friend, and to Chris in the other boat. At this time, I was using Chris’s rod; a 10 wt Loomis which seemed more like a 12 wt, with 500 grain sinking line and the largest profile, articulated fly I’ve ever seen. The wind and the large fly necessitated increased attention paid to the timing of my casts. While I left the water that day the only angler without the sweet stink of Musky on her hands, we all left the water with body parts intact (aside from Chris, who was surprised to find his hand bleeding after one of his Musky encounters) & a desire to hit the water again tomorrow.