A note from Dylan Aldridge:
“The day began with a trip to the river, and right away, it was evident that the water level was significantly lower than expected. Despite the limited spring rain, we persevered, navigating through areas where we typically spot fish. Unfortunately, we encountered stretches with very little fish-friendly water. After hours of casting, resulting in just a single follow, we decided to move to a spot along the bank that seemed promising.”
“As we approached the area, I stood at the front of the group and noticed what appeared to be a musky basking in the sand. Excitedly, I signaled my friend Nick to halt our progress. We positioned ourselves about 15 to 20 feet away from the fish, strategizing on how to take a shot without startling it. With a well-executed first cast, I enticed the fish as I manipulated the fly, watching it gradually begin to trail. Employing a slow twitch motion, I managed to maintain the fish’s interest until it finally succumbed and seized the fly.”
“In a state of exhilaration, I executed a forceful strip set, only to feel a single forceful shake of the head before witnessing the fish swim away, my fly no longer in sight. Admittedly, my emotions got the best of me – a rare occurrence given the infrequency of such opportunities to sight-cast a musky of that caliber in our region. When I turned to my friend, I was met with his delighted smile and the words, “I captured that all on film.”
“The remainder of the day was spent rowing with my friend, ruminating on the alternative actions I could have taken. Reflecting on this experience, a few musky fishing tips come to mind:
- Practice, practice, practice casting. – Chasing musky isn’t with your typical trout set up, most times we’re fishing with big streamers (10-12″ long) and an array of different intermediate and full sink lines. Practice your casting, hone your figure-eight technique, and perfect your hookset. Nothing is more disheartening than succumbing to nerves and botching a shot, as I did. It’s essential to persistently practice the figure-eight motion, even when fish are not in sight. This ensures that when the crucial moment arrives, you’re adept at the movement and don’t miss an opportunity due to unrefined skills. Some fish will eat right near the boat.
- Don’t give up on a bad cast. I’ve seen plenty of fish reacting and following a fly with a terrible cast. Many times, I’ve witnessed fish aggressively pursuing a fly despite its less-than-ideal presentation. If it’s a “not so great cast” or you dont like where the fly landed, do not give up.
- When it comes to musky patterns, the options are extensive. For me, simplicity often triumphs; I gravitate towards a reliable white/orange pattern and a dependable black pattern. In terms of the specific patterns, I often draw inspiration from a fusion of various designs I’ve encountered. The biggest thing for me is a hard water push and a kick sideways on a strip pause.
“Above all, the key takeaway is to never relinquish your pursuit, even in the face of disappointing outcomes or missed opportunities. Do not give up because those dreams of 50″ come alive and that’s what makes the chase worth it!”