Is This Really The Fish of 1,000 Casts?

By Jared Zissu | Monday, February 15

A good muskie day is “a few follows”, a great muskie day is “a few follows and a blow up” and an INCREDIBLE muskie day is “a few follows, a few blow ups and a fish on!”

The Muskie is one of the largest and most illusive freshwater fish. A target for anglers across the globe, these fish have become a sought after trophy due to their willingness to eat massive flies, and their stubbornness to shut you down at the last second. Trust me, if you go Muskie fishing, you will most likely go insane. 

My first Muskie trip came this past weekend. It was me, two buddies, and one crappy boat dubbed “the tailing loop”. To be fair, the boat has a lot of character, and most of our college funds go right back into the beer we consume, rather than substantial things, like a boat! For my friends, this would mark the 5th Muskie trip of the year, with no fish landed yet. I was really trying to figure out what the big deal was. What justifies waking up at 5 in the morning, driving across the state, and throwing massive flies at fish that don’t eat, and not only that, but doing it 5 times in a row. I get it, as fly fishermen we are out for the challenge, but at what point do you call it quits?

Lets get something straight. If you want a shot at actually landing one of these fish, you need to be doing a few things right. First, you need to find a stretch of water that has a strong Muskie population. Finding the perfect spot to drop your boat and park your car might not be easy. Read up, talk to local fishermen, do your Homework. Next, understand your tackle. Sinking line, 8 - 10 weight rods, and variety of flies. Everyone has their own way of finding these fish. For us, we needed to get down and dirty to get their attention. Understand your water. The reason you can go 5 to 10 times before actually landing a fish is because you need to learn. Especially in fly fishing, when you target a new species you need to put in your time to learn everything about them. When they like to eat? What colors do they react to? What temperatures make them the most active? How high is the water? Is the water clear? Is the sun out? Constantly ask these questions and always make mental notes, or even better, write them down. You can do a ton of research about local fisheries, but learning these things on your own will give you the best shot, and make you a better angler. 

How many casts does it take to land a Muskie?

This question is kind of bullshit, but put simply, It takes A LOT… Unless you get lucky like me. It was about 3 hours into our float when I sent a cast up under a log jam. I stripped my fly all the way back to the boat, looked behind me for a split second, and when I turned back I saw a giant body hovering over my fly. This was my first sight of an actual Muskie, I ripped my rod tip back to set the hook, and it was on! The boat started to shake as the other guys realized I was battling an actual fish. After about 3 minutes of rod bending action, the fish was in the net. My first reaction was to apologize to the other guys. I said “I’m sorry guys, I didn’t deserve this fish”. They said, “shut up, we landed one baby!”

What makes these fish so special, is how difficult they really are to catch. They follow your fly from 80 feet away, all the way back to the edge of the boat. You see a dark shadow emerge with teeth flaring and a large tail swooping, and just like that they vanish. It’s an image that haunts your dreams at night. A good muskie day is “a few follows”, a great musky day is “a few follows and a blow up” and an INCREDIBLE musky day is “a few follows, a few blow ups and a fish on!” I would say Muskie are the fish of 1,000 casts… If you are lucky.

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