SANDWICHES, PBR AND MUSKY
A lot of flies were tied this past winter at the house of flies- I mean a lot. Nights filled with PBR pounders and red wine, trimming bucktail into tapered sections along various articulated hook shanks. We were on one for sure, desperately waiting for the last weekend of May, to chase a fish we are truly lucky to be able to hunt with fly rods. Musky.
Opening weekend started out like this. Pike, Popeye, and I drop in to The River- a river system that blows my mind each time I fish it- and the whistle blows, game on motherfuckers.
Not 20 minutes in I move a fish and spooked him at the boat. Knees shaking. Five minutes later, fishing an all white, flashy gold fly, another fish comes steadily behind to the boat. This one more interested, possibly a little more hungry… A few turns of the figure eight and the fish is still hot, gills flare, retreat, then we loose sight. “She’s sitting under the boat I bet…”
This is when we can learn something about these fish’s behaviors. As I am digging my rod into the water, hoping the fish comes back to check out my fly, Popeye is doing the same thing from the back of the boat, only he is fishing a smaller, all-black fly. On his first arch of the figure eight, Musky comes out from right under the raft and attacks his fly, fish on, first musky of the season. It was like she held up right under us, waiting for something different. The best part is, we all saw the take- mouth open, belly curling, the hookset. I think I’ll take the assist.
After a short float, and one fish landed, the boys sent it a little further into musky country and set up camp. Pike and Popeye got dinner rollin, and I was on fire duty because there is no camping without a campfire. And with a little help from a greasy McDonald’s bag, she was burning good- the heat was soothing to the mosquito bites we encountered in our battle with the hoard during our evening float. The boys share fishing stories, pulls of whisky, and get excited to fish new water the following day.
Day 2- The New River or the day of the sandwiches and dry fly eats.
Have you ever seen a big trout swim out of its way to slurp a bug? Have you ever seen a musky turn on a fly as soon as it hits the water and take it like a trout slurping a bug, because Popeye has. His stick was hot and stuck a fish on both Saturday and Sunday of opening weekend, 2 fish on 2 different rivers. Pretty good first impression of someone I guess, and he brought the drift boat… and wine. Now a good friend.
We find a nice muddy beach for lunch, and take a break making sure that every one of us was nice and safe. Safety first. Whenever you musky fish, or any sight fishing for that matter, your eyes will always play tricks on you, even when you are not fishing. But this was no trick.
We are on the bank, raft anchored right on shore and I see the tail of a musky 3 inches from the bank, steadily swimming under the raft, patrolling the shore. I know this fish isn’t going to eat from under the boat again… Right? Somehow, Pike is the first one up and grabs his rod, flaps his fly on the other side of the boat and gives it a twitch. Sure enough, Musky comes out from under the raft at the speed of a floating log, takes a quick look at the fly and GULP, sandwich still in hand. Pike missed the fish, but was able to burry his fly deep into the casting platform of the raft. An example of why not to trout-set on a musky… But it wouldn’t be as good a story if he landed that fish anyway.
Day 3 or Hurricane Musky.
One thing from this weekend that we can also confirm about musky is that they are definitely willing to eat on days of hard rain and high wind, perhaps even more so.
The boys sent it back to The River and met up with a few more from the VT Fishing Family and the spirits were high, and the stoke was contagious as we gloated about how Pike cares more about eating lunch than properly setting the hook on fish.LOL.
But soon we were all humbled as the wind picked up and the skies released monsoon-like rains. And the thing about floating down a river in the pouring rain is, you got no cover- but there is a point were you get so wet and cold you have to just say fuck it and keep on fishing and drinking PBR’s. To say it was brutal is an understatement. And it wasn’t even really the rain that made it so tough. High wind and flyfishing don't go well together, specially when you are in a raft, casting twelve inch flies, with full sinking line. It got to the point where we had the wind pushing us back upriver faster than we could row down against it.
But somehow fish were caught, and savage eats were seen, with a total of five musky caught by the crew on Opening Weekend. The moral of this story is persistence. And no matter how empty the water that you are fishing feels, it just takes one well placed cast (and a lot of luck) to trigger a take.
Musky are badass and there is no other type of fish that eats a fly like they do.
Tight lines and stay core, and for godsakes go outside and get off your computer…