Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hitting The Mark

This is what it's all about.

When: Sunday, September 21nd, from 7am to 8pm
What: Musky fishing with Matt
Weather: Overcast to mostly cloudy. Calm wind to variable at 3mph, S at 6mph and W at 3mph. 65-76 degrees.
Barometric Pressure: 29.92in and fell to 29.63in
Relative Humidity: Low of 71%
Sunrise: 6:43am
Sunset: 6:56pm
Moon: Waning, 3 days before new.  Overhead 10:57am. Set 5:32pm.
Water Conditions: Good clarity, 69-71 degrees

Big fish don't show-up every day.

Sometimes they don't even show-up every year, or longer. The hope is that when they do, you don't make any mistakes and luck is on your side.

And today things went my way -- thanks to the help of my good friend Matt.

To be fair, there was a very good chance this fish could have belonged to Matt, but being the unselfish person that he is, and someone who takes a genuine joy out of seeing other people catch fish, Matt insisted I take the front his boat when I met him at the launch that morning.

With every good fish, there is a good fish story, and this was no exception.

I had mentioned to Matt early in the day that my next fish would be a special one. At the beginning of the year I set a personal goal to catch 20 muskies in 2014, and I was now at 19. I also told him it would be nice to catch a "kicker" fish in New Jersey. I boated a behemoth on Lake St. Clair in July, but in the back of my mind I thought it'd be pretty cool to add a 46+ NJ musky by the end of the year to cap-off the wonderful season I've been having.

I honestly did not think I would hit those two marks in the same day.

But I did.

A couple hours after we launched, I was throwing a brand new glider that I had just received from Jack Cobb in Charleston, WV. I immediately fell in love with the action of the big 10-inch jerkbait, but as we approached a good-looking spot, I knew something was wrong. There was no weight on the end of my line.

Matt had told me on two occasions that his Stay-Lok snaps have opened and he lost a of couple baits because of it. It had yet to happen to me, until today. My brand new Cobb was gone.

We took a look on top of the weeds to see if it was there, but it was not. I didn't want to let the loss ruin my day, so I jokingly said to Matt, "well I lost a $35 bait, let's see if I can lose a $150 bait."

I had gotten a Novak glider awhile back in exchange for a rain jacket I wasn't using. I'm pretty sure these lures are collectors items and most people hang them on their wall or put them in their office to look pretty.

But not me.

I clipped on the Novak, and three casts later I see a white flash break the surface next to my lure. Matt didn't get a good look, and since it wasn't a huge splash he said something about it being a bass. But I knew from the belly that it was a 'ski. I continued to work the bait intently, and after a few more twitches, she came back and crushed it. The fish didn't put up too much of a fight, and I had no idea how big it was until we got her in the net.

When we saw the head on the fish, Matt said, "I think you got your 46."

I did have my 46...and two and a half inches more. After unhooking the fish, we took a few pics, measured here at 48.5-inches and I spent some very enjoyable moments next to the boat with the giant musky as I waited for her to swim away.

Then we started hooting' and hollerin'.

We moved a few other fish during the day, and a few hours later I caught another nice fish. This one measured 41.5 inches. One of my other goals for the year was to have 10 fish break the 40-inch mark, and this was the 16th that met or surpassed. It was also my second consecutive two-fish day, and only my third two-fish day in New Jersey.

One thing I want to mention, and maybe a lesson for anyone starting out musky fishing: the big fish I caught today took a swing at my lure and missed. When I was a less experienced musky angler, I would have immediately reeled the bait back-in and fired another cast out. Today I know that is the wrong way to do things. Very wrong. If you even think there is a fish near your lure, especially if you think it bumped your lure, DO NOT take the bait out of the water until you are absolutely certain the fish is gone. That mistake cost me a couple fish over the last two years, but today I made sure I kept working the bait intently after the fish initially missed it. And this time I was successful.

Another thing I want to mention is how cool it was to enjoy a day like this with Matt. Matt took me musky fishing on many occasions before I had my own boat, and the knowledge I obtained from watching him is invaluable. I credit Matt with teaching me a lot of what I know about musky fishing, so to be with him on a day like this is pretty special.

Note: Jack Cobb, legendary baitmaker and native West Virginian who was mentioned in this blog, died a few days after this fishing trip. I wish I had fished more of his baits and known more about him while he was alive, but from what I've read and from the 20 casts I took with his lure -- it is enough to let me know the musky world has lost a true treasure. I was able to find a couple more of his baits online, and I can't help but think the one sitting on the bottom of the lake is there so that there will always be a part of Jack Cobb here in New Jersey.