Muskies in the North Country

Hey everybody, hope you’re all well. Matt here checking in. It’s been a while, but you’ve all been in my thoughts these past weeks. Thinking about the lives disrupted, the river valleys burned, all the loss and I’m so sorry for everyone who has been impacted by the wildfires on top of the ongoing pandemic. Hope this little photo journal takes your mind off your challenges for a bit.

I’ve been fishing in my new home in the southeast, chasing bass on small rivers in the Carolinas with my boys when I can. But last weekend, I made the hours-long journey north to fish Lake St. Clair with my dad and brother. Capt Nate bought himself a small center console for chasing toothier critters and this was my first time fishing on the new boat.

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Lake St. Clair is huge (430 sq miles) of shallow weedy madness. It butts up against Detroit and is part of the Great Lakes system connecting Lake Huron and Lake Erie. It’s an epic smallmouth fishery, but the main attraction is the muskies. Capt Nate has put up impressive fly rod caught specimens on this lake, but it’s a difficult and temperamental body of water.

The day we arrived, a strong west wind was blowing across the lake and we bounced in our 16-foot boat all over the various flats and bays where we scouted for action. The trick, according to Nate, is to cover as much water as possible. To that end, we set up a drift on a huge submerged weed-bed and Nate handed me an 11-wt with a full sinking line and a fly the size of a goddamn tube sock and said, start casting. In the wind. And the waves.

The entire project of targeting large predatory fish is rooted in sadism. It is a transgressive act, to target the biggest meanest predator in the watershed with a whippy rod, a bunch of string and a hook. There’s an expectation that you will inflict pain on the fish, and on yourself. It’s wild. To that end, I blew out my arm pretty quick in the front of the boat and we didn’t catch anything day one. Didn’t even see a fish.

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Day 2 was the first full day and we found the bait and some calmer water. I had a large fish bite while I was nearly catatonic from constant casting. A small pike jumped on the line nearly immediately after. Hours later, nothing.

I’ll spare you the suspense. I caught my St. Clair muskie on a gigantic rubber jerkbait, exhausted from the fly rod. I pitched it in the deep water near a weeedbed that looked like every other deep pool of water near a weedbed we’d already fished, and the damn thing jumped on it and tried to drag the rod out of my arms. I didn’t really have to do anything. We babied it in, barely hooked, and took it aboard for a quick glamor shot. It was a gorgeous animal.

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Another run, another time, I will get my fly rod muskie. But I was happy with this beauty.

Take care y’all.

-MS

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2 Responses to Muskies in the North Country

  1. Jim Terborg says:

    Great seeing you guys

  2. Oregon Fly Fishing Blog says:

    Great to hear from you Jim! Hope all is well. -Matt

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