One of the critters you run into sometimes during a summer on the river is the musky.
For most, it’s a love-or-hate type of thing. There are still those who think that muskies eat all the bass. They kill them every chance they get. That’s a shame because most anglers would be very happy to battle a musky.
For those of you who claim to slit the belly of every musky you can, go slit the bellies of a couple cormorants. It’s also illegal, and you’ll save a lot more fish. Muskies may eat a bass or walleye now and then, but they dine mainly on suckers, fallfish and other slower movers. A taxidermist once told me that he has yet to find a bass or walleye in a musky’s stomach.
That nonsense aside, muskies are the supreme kings of the water. No other fish in the river is as hard to catch consistently. They will drive you mad by following lures to the boat, then rolling up their nose and swimming away. Or they will sit there and ignore every thing you throw at them. You can cast for days and not see a fish.
But, the Susquehanna is actually a good musky river. With the correct homework and gear, you can go out and catch muskies. When a green rocket finally blasts your lure and tries to yank your arms off, all the work you put into it is worthwhile. They will go airborne and rip 20 yards of line out in an instant.
Even when you finally get one in the net, they still give you the hairy eyeball, looking like they’re still thinking about biting your arm off.
I like to go after them. This is a fish where one in a day is a good day, so it’s usually a good bit of work to be successful.
You never know, though. I’ve been out numerous times where we’ve put a good one in the boat before we even got warmed up.
Musky fishing is a lot like hunting whitetails. You can get lucky and get a buck, just like you can get lucky and catch musky. But the guys that get a buck every year do their homework and put their time in. They understand their quarry.
The same is true in musky fishing. Put the time in and use your head, you can catch musky.
In the heat of the summer I like to throw topwater lures for musky. There is nothing quite like a 40-inch-plus fish exploding on the top, and muskies seem to rather enjoy the surface of the water and the air above.
They are also a lot like some women drivers (ooh boy, I’ll hear it for that one!). They like speed. Speed kills. I burn anything with a blade as fast as I can reel it. You can’t out-reel a musky, and speed often triggers a strike.
Muskies have a habit of showing up when you least expect it. Maybe your next time out will be the time.
Ken Maurer, Herndon, is a licensed fishing guide and a regular contributor to the outdoors page. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.