The Great Muskie Challenge

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

pretty good ploy, I think, when you're trying to fascinate an audience with an essentially fishless tale.

I must admit that, although I was the only boat in the cove and probably visible only to songbirds and owls, I still felt foolish performing the figure 8.

But I still recommend the maneuver, because the biggest thrill of the night came when I was swirling my lure next to the boat in a figure 8 - or 5 or 6 or something - pattern. No, I didn't have a hookup, but a huge fish swirled near my lure. It didn't exactly erupt from the water or drench me, but it did swirl. I think it was a muskie.

I was excited. It was a great swirl, I decided. A legal swirl, I concluded. Things were looking up. There was certainly no reason to despair yet.

There was time to squeeze in one last go in the morning, after my battery was charged. The outboard was officially kaput.

I chose to fish along the dam, staying far away from the hole where the flooded lake was draining out with a rushing sound.

Although I again spotted baitfish, cast to every rock and cranny site along about 2 miles of shoreline and trolled until my battery acid turned to distilled water, I never raised a fish.

It was time to go home. Fortunately, and no fooling, I had borrowed from the library some audio cassette tapes of books to listen to in the car while driving to and from the lake. They included a self help tape on transactional analysis.

On the way home, I was a little discouraged until I put that tape in the player. It helped me look at my situation rationally. I had tried under difficult conditions and against unfavorable odds to catch a trophy . That I didn't catch one didn't mean I never would or could. When I return next year for another segment of The Great Muskie Challenge, I might - heck, I almost certainly will! - catch a dozen muskie.

I felt at peace with myself, with Pomme de Terre and with the elusive muskie. Essentially, I came away with the message of I'm OK, the fish are OK.

And although I still hadn't felt the strike of a muskie, I could say with certainty that the swirl of a muskie is a tremendous and exciting thing - especially when that's all you've got

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