I am happy to report that I recently ended a slump. It had been a long time since I dried off a muskellunge.
Anyone who has spent any time seriously, intentionally targeting muskies knows that under the best of conditions there will be slumps. Every muskie is earned. Sometimes it can be a long time between fish.
Paging back through my notes and logs, it has been 171¾ hours of fishing, targeting muskies, between my last two. Oh sure, there was a miss or two in those hours. There was a pike or two caught, one big walleye, one of my biggest bass, and I was net man and picture man for my cousin’s biggest muskie ever.
There also was one heartbreak, after pausing to sharpen hooks, not three casts later I felt a fish thump my bait. I jerked his eye-teeth out just like I learned from Gramps Roth. A nice muskie, 40-some inches, rolled to the surface. In slow motion I can still see that fish shake its head back and forth, back and forth, and then there floats my bait right beside it, to the left of her.
“There she was, gone.”
For all you know, I sat down and cried. I’m not telling; there was no one around to see. You lose a fish like that after that long and see if you don’t cry.
Oh, for 171¾ hours I kept trying. I fished at least eight different Nebraska muskie waters during that time. I expected to see a fish on every cast.
Some have said muskies are the fish of 10,000 casts. My initial reaction to that is that if it takes you that many casts, you are not doing something right. Then again, if you divide 10,000 by 171.75, I would only have to make 58 casts per hour to total 10,000 casts in 171.75 hours. I might have been getting close.
When I hear someone asking questions about catching their first muskie, or getting started muskie fishing, I grin maniacally to myself. If they only knew what they were getting into.
The fish I caught was a little muskie — only 30 inches. But any hitter in a batting slump will take any little blooper to break the slump. It was a beautiful 30-incher.
I would have taken photos, but it absolutely choked the bait. I had to cut hooks to get the bait out. Then, that fish did not need any more handling or stress. He went back in the water immediately and swam off. We will meet again.
I fished another hour after catching him. Might as well start putting in my time for the next one. She will not take so long. She will be larger, much larger.
When I set the hook on this fish, it exploded, porpoised, out of the water swinging its head back and forth. That is the image that will stick in my mind for the next 170 hours. I’m going to enjoy every minute of the pursuit.