Maine Musky on the Fly!

Me: “ You know Jax, Musky are fish of 10,000 cast.” Jax: ” Yeah but not for me!”

 

I’ve been hearing rumors for year of the illegal stocking of musky in Maine waters yet, from what I understand, they were stocked legally in Canada.  Regardless of how you feel about them they are here and theres no getting rid of them now.  For me, this opens up a whole new specie of fish to try and catch.  Why wouldn’t I take advantage of that and fish for them?  This Memorial weekend that’s just what my son and I did. We’ve been wanting to go for the past few years but life just gets in the way, so finally I had three days off in a row and our plans were set. We were heading north to hunt and I mean hunt Musky. These fish are not easy to catch and if you can’t cast a fly rod well, you will by the end of a day fishing for them.  All you do is cast and cast huge flies. The fish of 10,000 casts!

 

This adventure called for a little gear change.  A Scott 10 weight pike/musky fly rod and Hatch 7 plus reel with Airflo bass/pike line with wire on the end of your leader to help prevent the fish from biting through the line. Musky have huge teeth.

Once we got past Ashland it was like we had entered into a different state or country.  It just felt different . That part of Maine is just beautiful , rolling hills, mountains, wild streams, brooks and potato fields. Things seemed to slow down and become a little more peaceful.

 

We had two days there but wasted no time getting a line in the water. We quickly set up camp and went in search of water.  I  guide for northern pike but never for Musky so we needed a starting point. A friend of a friend, who is from the county, gave us some direction. We were also able to speak to a local spin fisherman and he gave us a few other spots to try. Turns out, they were spot on.  We had several follows, which is huge. You don’t count fish caught rather how many follows you had. We had 6 in two days. There is nothing like a 30 plus inch fish right at the side of your boat with its nose on the tip of the fly just sitting there not eating. We found out quick you don’t yell, ” I have a fish following my fly!” because they will instantly disappear .

 

Jax was spot on when he said it wouldn’t take him 10,000 cast to catch a musky. It was more like 50. We actually found a spot on our own and made several cast into the bush  where there was no current and the fish had cover. They can sit protected, waiting to attack. We had made several cast and to be honest, we had gotten kind of lazy.  We were casting and talking about a fishing trip in July. Jax made a cast and stripped his fly to the boat and made his figure eight. He was thinking about what I had said and let his fly hang right beside the boat. I watched him do the figure eight, looked at the fly then looked at him and then looked back.  Like a ghost, there suddenly was a fish there.  I yelled, “Set the hook!”  Fish on!

Jax was very fortunate to hook one of these illusive fish but now he had the challenge of fighting it and getting it into the boat. Most 14 year olds would struggle with this challenge but Jax isn’t the average 14 year old fly fisherman. He’s had more experience fighting fish than most grown men so I knew he could handle this.  He kept the right amount of pressure on the fish as it ran around the back of the boat.  It was early enough in the season so the water was still cold so I think that kept the fish from going crazy. Thankfully I brought along handled net with a larger opening just in case we got lucky.

My heart was racing while Jax fought the fish. Any number of things could go wrong while fighting the fish and any number of things could go wrong while netting the fish. Jax got the fish close and I reached out, put the net low and came up hard. The weight of the fish was shocking. I had all I could do to get it into the boat and Jax struggled with it trying to get a picture.
There were a lot of high fives given and a lot of hooting and hauling once the fish was in the boat. We got a few shots of the fish and Jax released it safely into water to hopefully become a 50” fish. The musky taped out at 40”!  Not a bad first musky at age 14. This fish was caught in the first few hours of our two day trip. Though we had several follows right to the boat there were no more eats. Watching my son catch his first musky with me right by his side, priceless. and I wouldn’t have it any other way.