The Day of
the Giants … a truly unique day
July 12th…I call this the day of the giants. It was on the second day of a 3 day Musky film shoot with my good friend Aaron Shirley (Getting Hooked with Aaron & Barry) and awesome Muskie guide and friend Marc Thorpe. The Ottawa River is awesome fishery but can also be tough at times. The day proceeded not much unlike the other. It was hot, humid, little breeze and steady barometer at the time (bad weather was supposed to roll in later in the day). The only exception to our day was that it was a full moon day and Marc wanted to make sure that we were on the water early to take advantage of the minor and major solunar periods. We were on the water and pulled into our first spot by 6:40 am. We were going to fish weed clumps and weed lines. I changed my bucktail from yesterday, where I lost a mid forty inch fish at boat side and Aaron threw back at the fish to have it chomp down on his bait too only to lose it 10 seconds later. It was our only fish that day. A bit of a bizarre first day, but nothing to match what was to come.
Given I was fishing clean up (3rd guy at the back of the boat casting, fishing scraps/dirty water, where Marc and Aaron had nice fresh clean Muskie water), I had to change things up a bit if I were to be successful I thought. I proceeded to put on a 8” Romo-tail (homemade bucktail/unique shape/colour) and began my long bomb casting method just to show the girls something different as the other guys were short casting pockets. About the second cast into the morning, and on the third or fourth retrieve on my reel she hit like a ton of bricks (the camera man wasn’t even ready yet). I set the hook hard (feeling bad about losing a fish the previous day), and wanted to make sure I had this one on. She proceeded to run to my left and charge into the boat quickly, I had to take her around the motor and bring her to starboard with the intention of bringing her to the bow. She felt big. I could feel the headshakes underwater and I didn’t a good look at her until she was starboard and surfaced…then I knew she was big…and the hair on the back of my neck was standing on end. I kept my bucktail rod low to the water and the 80 lbs test line taunt. She charged under the boat where I had to immediately free spool as she would have snapped the rod or broke the line and I let her run underneath to the port side so that I could swing my rod around the bow. She was definitely giving me a good run for the money. Marc finally netted her after a good fight. I knew she was my personal best but didn’t how big she really was until Marc and I put her in the cradle. We measured her in the water (a true conservative method of measurement – no tail pinch was utilized as well as minimizing the out of water time for the fish). I was at the front of the Frabill when Marc asked “how big do you think she is?” I guessed 55”. She was 57”. After 10 years of hardcore Muskie fishing not only had I beaten my personal best which had been on Georgian Bay by 3”, but did it casting. After a few back slaps and “F*@#*$ A’s” which Aaron will have to bleep out (the out takes will be hilarious), we released her. She was no more than 30 seconds out of the water. She was caught at 6:59 am during the minor. After that big fish, I said to the guys…”It’s all downhill from here”….or so I thought.
We pulled up the bow mount and raced off to another location with similar features. We drifted down and made one pass with no results. We moved the boat back up again as Marc figured we missed the “spot on the spot” by a small margin and would take another pass. This time she hit not 15’ from the back of the boat. I saw this giant come out of nowhere from below to engulf my bucktail; I instinctively pulled the rod to the opposite direction the fish was charging in order to set the hook. The drag was set real tight on my reel. The fish took to the bottom and bull dawged me around. My heart was pounding and my adrenalin rushing. I free spooled and raced to the front of the boat, where she proceeded to jump a couple of times. To see a big fish like that jump is breathtaking, yet at the same time, I was worried that at some point she would spit out the 2 siwash hooks that were embedded in her jaw (I had lost a monster like that once before…shades of déjà vu were setting in). This fish just dragged me around the boat and pulled the drag which was set extremely tight like it was nothing and shook my rod like a dog does to a rag doll. I held on, forearms were burning and was breathing quite heavily when I was finally able to lead the fish into the net Marc was holding out. We quickly removed the hooks and prepped everybody to get ready with the cameras before removing the fish from the net. We made sure she rested for a few moments, before we took a few quick snapshots and then put her in the cradle to measure her up. Again, no longer than 30 seconds out of the water. I had the front of the cradle and Marc the back. Marc measured her three times, and exclaimed “she’s 58”….unbelievable!!! I just beat my personal best again within ½ hour. I just won the Muskie lottery – what are the odds? You figure it out. We caught her at the end of the minor period.
A truly unique day:
• Marc Thorpe’s release methods
are second to none. Measuring the fish in the water, letting the fish rest
in the net for several moments before taking the pic. If you truly respect
the fish and the fishery, please take a look at his methods. I know I will
be changing the way I release my fish this day forward.