Late one afternoon into my third day with no muskies boated and almost no fish action of any kind, a small pike suddenly pounced on my lipless JB Rattler lipless crankbait. Then another one hit, and then another. Baitfish started breaking the surface too near sunbaked shallow spots out of the big blow. I could sense something had definitely changed and a small window of opportunity was beginning to open up. Not surprisingly, small pike are often the first to respond when a bite is about to occur, and I was hopeful a musky strike was possible.
Placing a longer cast to an underwater projection over a favorite rocky point, I engaged the reel just as the lure touched water and began an aggressive retrieve along with a rod lift to spurt the sinking vibrator quickly over the shallowest rocks without snagging. As soon as I was confident the lure had cleared those snags, I backed off a touch on my retrieve cadence and lowered my rodtip slowly in order to allow the sinking lipless crankbait to descend along the tapering contour.
However, a sudden solid bump interrupted the lure’s rhythmic vibe instantly telling me I had slowed down a bit too much and the lipless crank had careened off a large boulder. Instinctively, I lifted upwards on my rodtip aggressively and increased retrieve speed in order to drive the lure up and over the big boulder. Just as I leveled off my rodtip and reducing retrieve speed — POW! My rod doubled with a big fish strike.
Moments later, a giant musky roared out of the water in a violent head shake trying to free the bait from its jaws. Luckily, the oversized treble hooks I had custom installed were buried deeply, and I had a competent net man in Chas Martin. After an incredible battle, I was posing for photos with my biggest musky of the 2019 season. As it turned out, this would be the only musky boated that day.
The reality of this story is, more often than not, very short feeding windows are actually the norm. Not the exception, particularly in the life of a musky angler. Feeding sprees that last for hours or even days are actually rare. When they do occur, great fishing ensues for sure and some of the most memorable fishing trips of all occur.
We all hope for that dream outing with lots of follows, strikes and hook-ups with muskies of all sizes, but it rarely happens. Foul weather, no follows, no strikes and sore shoulders are often the norm . However, by keeping focused, working hard, and presenting lures efficiently, you are bound to get one or two key opportunities on any given trip. No matter how bad it seems. That one cast to the right spot at the right time should always be your focus. Always remember, you can go from zero to hero in a matter of seconds. It only takes one cast.