The Great Muskie Challenge

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Published on: Sep. 2, 1995

Last revision: Oct. 20, 2010

water shallower than 25 feet was literally forested, and, wet or dry, forests are difficult to run lures through.

"No reason to despair yet," I told myself, and started trolling over 25 to 35 foot depths near the edges of the woods.

I ran three lures, one directly behind the boat, and two on planer boards.

Planer boards are a great invention. The boards, which are usually made of some stiff bright-colored plastic material, attach to your lines and, when towed, wedge themselves well to the side of the boat's path, taking the trailing lures with them. Hypothetically and hopefully, you can use them to present lures to fish that haven't been alerted by the boat or those that, having been alerted, have moved away from the boat's path.

It's a bit of a problem, letting out lures, attaching the planers to the line and feeding the planer boards to the side but, once set, the boards follow like geese in formation. When I see them ranked behind me, mimicking my every move, I always feel like the head goose. It's very comforting.

As you might expect, my anticipation was high. I was on prime muskie water, the lures were running well. I expected at every moment something significant to happen and completely change the atmosphere in the fishing boat.

Nothing did. The stats: 2.5 hours of trolling from 6:30 to 9 p.m. produced three hits and two fish, both white bass of non- spectacular proportions. All action depended on a bumblebee- colored crankbait towed by the interior line.

TIP: If fishing a lake you're not familiar with, don't wait until dark to begin your search for the launch ramp.

At dawn, the water was so smooth you couldn't spit without sending waves to every shoreline.

Rather than start the outboard, I trolled with the quiet electric motor, following the old river channel that wound near shore, while casting a third lure toward indentations in the woods.

Big fish were crashing on the surface everywhere. Most of them unseen in the flooded forest, but there were also a few top water splashes above the 85 foot deep channel. The depth finder showed oodles of baitfish below.

I stared at the waterline and finally caught sight of a thick bronze back knifing through the lake's surface. I'm a bit superstitious and figured it was a sign, and not a good sign, since the fish was clearly a carp.

At 6:18 a.m. I heard

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