This article is about something I know to be true based on over 46 years of fishing for, and reading about musky fishing. It’s something I feel must be said!
Some of what you are about to read might shock you!
As with subjects like politics, entertainment, health, weather and anything else you can think of, there is and always will be people that feel they must say and write things, true or not true, just to make themselves feel important and to make others pay attention to them. Certainly we know that money and fame are the two drivers that cause people to do and say things that normally would never be said. This is most certainly true of most politicians and the media that feeds & perpetuates their ego. The uninformed media also creates and causes myth, hype and out and out lies . Just think about all the B.S that was said by stupid politicians in our last election. Much of what was reported and perpetuated by the media.
Because of this self importance, greed and eagerness to become well known, there are writers and reporters that have written articles about Musky fishing based on folklore, exaggerated stories, myths, hype and pure lies. Some of these writers have never even dipped a line in any body of water! some even get their information from novice fisherman that just don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Most of these uninformed novices simply try to impress people to make up for their limited knowledge an skills.
I think that anyone reports and writes about any subject should have a complete understanding of the truth before they attempt to deceive and further spread falsehoods about any given subject! It seems to me that these fools pick on subjects that have no real definitive certainties or answers, so that they can not be held accountable for reporting things of which they know little or nothing about. I took these dumb articles from the great Len Hartman’s book called:“Fifty Years of Musky Fishing.” (Before I Forget).
Here is one that appeared in “The Wall Street Journal back in September 5, 1980 called:
Catch as Catch Can by Paul Ingrassia, Caldron Falls, Wisconsin
A friend of mine says there is no such thing as a musky. He says the fish was dreamed up
by chambers of commerce in northern Wisconsin to lure gullible fishermen and their
dollars. He says those four foot-long trophies mounted in taverns hereabouts are just plastic molds to
perpetuate the hoax.
(Here is another one that appeared In “The Wall Street Journal” back in May 23, 1986):
Something’s Fishy in Eagle River
The elusive muskie
By Frederick c. Klein, Eagle River Wisconsin
I have vacationed in this northern Wisconsin resort area for a dozen summers, man and boy.
It’s a lovely place, covered with pungent pine trees and sparkling lakes. Also, some of the
restaurants are first rate.
I had however, always looked askance at the region’s claim to be the nation’s muskie
fishing capital. In all my summers here, I had never seen a real, live muskelunge, the
square name of the predator that draws sportsmen from far and wide.
Sure, I’d seen those hugh, waxy, mounted fish labeled as muskies, their backs arched
orgasmically in trophy pose. Every hardware and bait store hereabouts hasone. But
my lack of firsthand confirmation of the beast’s existance led me to suspect that
there’s a factory somewhere turning them out to entice the tourists.
Can you beleive it? It’s obvious that these two morons must have written these articles while they were drunk or as a joke! Who knows?
This one appeared in 1987 Fishing Guide:
The open mouth of even a 10 pound musky is a real attention getter. Powerful jaws, stacked with hundreds of needle-like teeth, can cut heavy line with a single chomp. Fishermen will try anything to coax a strike. When a strike does come, most agree it’s worth the wait. Sudden impact and powerful, high speed runs describe the action.
This is another writer that knows shit about musky fishing! It sounds like he has never fished for them himself! A musky is just a fish, not something planted in our lakes by aliens! I think I would rather catch a five pound Steelhead Trout, or even a three pound Smallmouth bass! A smaller musky tends to give up quite easily.
There he stands, draped in more equipment than a telephone lineman, trying to outwit an organism with a brain no bigger than a breadcrumb, and getting licked in the process!
There are as many myths about fishing for Musky as there are Muskies ! Woops….. The biggest myth of all, is the one I have been hearing for over forty years: It’s the one that says it takes 10,000 casts to catch a legal Musky! This myth has been perpetuated by novice fisherman, and by the Media for many years! If it even came close to being true, do you think there would be anyone left fishing for musky? I would have given up a long time ago! How about the guys that have caught a legal on their first cast? Think that there would be an average somewhere along the line? I suppose it’s more fun to talk about 10,000 casts. However, there is some truth to the idea that Muskies are more difficult to catch than other large game, although no way near as difficult as reported. It is also true that most wanna-be novice Musky fisherman do not know the first thing about how, where or when to fish for Musky. These novices travel thousands of miles, and spend a zillion bucks every year only to come home to brag about a few follows! Yes, I did say follows! It makes me laugh to hear them actually talking about seeing a fish! Well, I guess it’s human nature! I was in the same boat (no pun intended) at one time…..and don’t get me wrong, it is exciting to see a five foot creature watching and following your lure. It does usually indicate that the Muskies are some what active….. Your better die hard Musky hunters know how to take advantage of this, using some tactics, like figure eights. I will give the mighty Musky a good amount of credit for their ability to get off the hook when connected. The real big muskies I have had on have always figured out a way to get off! Your more experienced Musky hunters say pretty much the same thing. I think it’s because of their extra hard mouths and sharp gill plates.
Here is a true story just to help prove my point:
Back in the day (October 1939) John Coleman, a Chicago residence fisherman made a trip up to Eagle Lake Ontario. John had never caught a Musky in his life, and did not even know what they looked like. As luckwould have it, he hooked and landed a 60 lb 8 oz beast that was a new worlds record at the time!
If you catch a ten pound Musky you are a lucky person. If you catch a 20 pounder, consider yourself to be most fortunate. If you ever land one over thirty pounds , you belong to one of the most exclusive fraternities in the sports world!
Another flat out Myth is that Muskies are the best fighters of all fresh water game fish in America. Well, that is not true! Sorry, all you die hard Musky hunters! A Musky does not compare to the “King”! I’m talking about Chinook Salmon…..For those of you that are reading this article and that are thinking that i’m nuts, I’ll explain why the Musky is over rated…..
The largest Musky I have ever caught was a thirty-two lb. 52 inch beast I nailed back in 1983 at Lake Of The Woods, Canada. The total fight lasted about five minutes. It was really hard to believe that it gave up so easy! It made two short runs, tried to get under my boat and into my net it went! The largest “King,” I got in my boat was just over twenty-eight pounds, I caught that puppy up in Door County Wisconsin on Sister Bay. I had to follow it in my boat for fear it would take out all my line, like many big Kings do. The fight lasted about an hour! After many long runs, including one that almost took out all of my line, the giant jumped a few times along side my boat and tried to wrap around my motor. It almost got off close to the boat, but I was lucky enough to land it. That is not the only time I have to compare the two fish. There have been many times big kings have taken out all of my line. This has never happened to me while fishing for Musky, and I have had some real hawgs on. The Muskies I have caught in the twenty pound range did not even compare to some king salmon I got in the teens! I believe Muskies do not have nearly the stamina as salmons. The two fish don’t even come close when it comes to fighting power. It burns me up to hear and read all the hype about how great Muskies are…..It makes me wonder if any one of the writers have ever fished for the “King?”
One thing is true! Some Musky fisherman do get hooked on the pursuit of a trophy Musky, and at times it becomes a compulsion! This relentless pursuit is sometimes called “Musky Fever”. (see my article called Musky Fever) Many years ago I had the sickness my self! I was cured when I started fishing for Chinook Salmon (The King) on Lake Michigan back in 1967.
Muskies destroy smaller game fish populations: Not true! Most lakes do not have that many Muskies to destroy anything! Northern Pike on the other hand can obliterate game fish population because of their tendency towards a larger population density.
Muskies do not feed in Summer months because they lose their teeth and have sore mouths: WOW! What a bunch of BS! I have caught my biggest Musky in the Summer. Record show that most trophy Muskies are caught in July.
Muskies always hang out around weeds: They do like weed beds, although that is where the smaller ones hang out. The big girls are in the deeper cooler waters, often suspended in open water or hanging out by the rocks (especially in waters that have walleye)
Muskies do not bite at night: This one is just false! I for one have caught many Muskies in the dark, and have seen some real beasts caught on surface lures.
Muskies are loners: (seeing is believing)
Nope! I have seen muskies travelling in pairs. I have also witnessed groups of them in weed beds, and some sandy shallow areas, as well.
Muskies over 100 lbs have been netted by the authorities and by the natives:
There has never been a documented 100 lb muskie anywhere. This has been proven by many authorities over and over again. This one is just a fish story and some more Media hype!
Suspended Muskies are sick: Anyone that believes this horse shit is the sick one!
Big lures, big Muskies:
Another Myth! Big Muskies will hit any size lure…..Many big Muskies are caught on small lures every year, including a minnow & jig.
Early morning and late evening are the best times to fish for Muskies:
Documented proof shows that more Muskies are caught between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. However, early morning and late evening can at times be productive as well.
You will catch more Muskies using Fluorocarbon than with steel leaders:
Now this one is my own opinion and might not be shared by others. Nothing has even been proven that using steel leaders are not as good as any of your plastic leaders. Fact is: More world record Muskies have been caught when there was no such things as “Fluorocarbon leaders!” I think that if a Musky wants a bait, it will hit regardless of what it is tied too! The records will prove this to be true. Another reason I like steel leaders, is that they can not be cut by a Muskies gill plate…A Musky can and will cut through any type of plastic leader!
Some of the “Hype” about fluorocarbon leaders are spread by guides that are paid by tackle manufactures into pushing and reporting about it…..The media, being as stupid about musky fishing that they are, continue to go along with the flow. They will aways do so as long as there is something in it for them. The many sporting stores and outlets will generally go with the media and the people that have the most to gain by doing so. This is also true of many of the new musky lures that have been invented, even if they do not produce any better than the old favorites. Remember, much of the musky myths and false information has been caused by money and greed.
Here is a typical hyped up article written back in the day….. I would be willing to bet that it was written by someone that has never caught a Musky, and maybe never even fished for one! It’s articles like this that helped build the myth of 10,000 casts…..give me a break! I would rather catch a 10 lb steelhead any day of the week! Here it is word for word:
The open mouth of even a 10 pound Musky will get your attention! The powerful jaws, stacked with hundreds of needle-like teeth, can cut heavy line with a single chomp. Fishermen will try anything to coax a strike. When a strike does come, most agree it’s worth the wait. Sudden impact and powerful, high speed runs describe the action……1987 Fishing Guide
If you’ve been fishing long enough, you’ve probably heard many facts that are actually not true.
Here are 28 of the most common but down-right false fishing myths, as well as the debunking truths:
BASS DON’T FEED IN COLD WATER.
While bass only eat 1/3 as much food as they do in warmer weather, they still eat.
All year long, bass cruise around looking for food, and you can even catch bass through the ice.
FISH DON’T BITE IN THE RAIN.
Many anglers think that fish don’t bite during the rain. This is not true; you can be very successful fishing in the rain.
Fishing generally slows down during periods of low barometric pressure. Low pressure sometimes, but not always, accompanies a storm.
If it’s raining and the pressure is not low, keep on fishing!
CATFISH BARBELS ARE DANGEROUS.
Catfish barbels are feelers, not stingers. They use them to find food and identify objects.
You need to watch out for the spine on the dorsal fin because it is hard and sharp, but the barbels won’t hurt you.
BIGGER LURES CATCH BIGGER FISH.
This makes intuitive sense, but everyone has examples of small fish attacking a lure as big as they are, as well as counter-examples of small lures catching big fish.
BE QUIET OR YOU’LL SCARE THE FISH.
Talking doesn’t disturb fish. Don’t make noise in the water, or boat noise, but talking to your friends won’t make the fish go away.
FISH HAVE FIVE-SECOND MEMORIES.
It would be great if fish forget being hooked seconds after it happened.
Unfortunately for us anglers, fish remember baits that have hooked them in the past. One study showed that fish remember things for up to five months.
BASS WON’T HIT TOPWATER LURES IN WINTER.
Conventional wisdom says that bass hit topwater lures during the warm summer months. In reality, they’re opportunistic feeders.
A topwater minnow lure is a great winter meal for a large bass.
CATFISH ONLY EAT AT NIGHT.
You don’t have to fish for catfish only at night. These whiskered fish eat at all times in the day.
Cat fishing at night can be incredibly productive, but it’s not the only time you can catch them.
DON’T LEAVE FISH TO FIND FISH.
It might not make much sense to leave an area where you’re catching fish, but similar-sized fish usually congregate together.
BIG FISH ONLY LIVE IN DEEP WATER.
Big or small, fish feed where food is present. Sometimes that’s deep water. Sometimes it’s shallow water. My friend once caught a 25 LB musky in about one foot of water. More often than not, the stretch of water you think is too shallow actually has some big fish in it. The largest northern pike, for example, often hunt in shallow weed-beds or shallow in-let streams.
YOU NEED A BIG BOAT TO CATCH FISH.
Different boats are better for different conditions. Sometimes a smaller boat can fish an area which a bigger boat can’t get into.
Big boats are great to quickly cover large amounts of water, but you don’t need one to catch fish. Trophy fish, of every kind, are caught every year using a small row boat, raft,canoe and kayak.
TROPHY BASS ARE OLD BASS.
This sounds like it would make sense right? But a study showed that most bass over 10 pounds, especially in Florida and other southern states, are only 7 to 10 years old.
BASS ARE SIGHT FEEDERS.
Bass use their lateral line system to detect water movement and pressure. The lateral line comprises a line of nerves along the body of the fish and “canals” in the fish’s head.
This system helps the bass detect motion and target prey, and it’s one of the reasons that spinnerbaits and other vibrating lures are so effective.
YOU NEED TO FISH DEEP WHEN ICE FISHING.
You can often catch fish under the ice in less than 5 feet of water. This is especially true early in the season and in shallower, weedy lakes.
LEARNING TO FLY CAST IS DIFFICULT.
Anyone can learn to cast a fly rod. A good instructor helps, but many fly fishermen are self-taught.
A LONG CAST IS NECESSARY WHEN FLY FISHING.
A long cast looks nice and is fun to perform, but it doesn’t always catch more fish. A short, accurate cast is often more successful.
Besides, in many smaller trout streams and rivers you don’t need to make a long cast.
FLY FISHING IS TOO EXPENSIVE.
You certainly can spend a lot of money on fly-fishing, but you don’t have to. There’s a plethora of lower-priced rod-and-reel combos you can purchase that won’t break the bank.
Many fly rods also come with lifetime warranties, meaning an initial investment can last for years.
YOU HAVE TO BE LUCKY TO CATCH FISH.
There’s a common misconception that catching fish is all a matter of chance. You cast out a bait and with any luck, a fish will swim by and eat it.
Those who practice the art of fishing don’t see it this way at all. They know there are fish present in the waters where they cast their line.
IT TAKES BIGGER HOOKS TO CATCH BIGGER FISH.
This one is true, but only partly. You obviously wouldn’t use the same size hook to catch a bluegill that you would to hook a shark.
However, using a large circle hook when tuna fishing can turn the fish away. When fish are line-shy, they’re also hook-shy.
Small hooks will work to catch incredibly large fish—as long as they the hook is made of strong, solid metal. If you go to a thinner shaft, it will bend out under enough force.
FISH CAN’T SEE OBJECTS ON DRY LAND WHILE IN THE WATER.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There may be certain species that have terrible eyesight, but most fish can see the world outside of water.
Trout see through the surface tension of a flowing river in a cone-like funnel. They can see trees, bushes, bears… and you, if you’re not careful.
YOU NEED TO HAVE STRONGER LINE TO CATCH BIGGER FISH.
Here’s another one that’s only partially true because it all depends on the circumstance.
You can catch any fish if you have large enough equipment, but that really takes the sport out of it. Commercial fishermen aren’t looking for long fights with their prey because time is money.
Some game-fish anglers specifically use light line to target the biggest species. They win light line world records in this manner.
A LICENSE IS REQUIRED EVERYWHERE YOU FISH.
As a rule of thumb, you should have your license with you whenever you fish. But, there are certain locations where you don’t need a license to fish.
Piers in California are another example of places you can fish that don’t require a license.
Other states provide this same luxury, but be sure to always check the fish-and-game regulations.
DRAGS SHOULD BE SET TIGHT TO STOP FISH.
Reels don’t have drags to stop fish; they’re meant to slow them. Setting your drag too tight is usually a recipe for disaster.
If a fish can’t take your line out, it will take it sideways. If it’s strong enough, it’ll break your line or gear.
FISH ONLY BITE WHEN THEY’RE HUNGRY.
Fish obviously bite when they’re hungry, and most of the time this is the reason they do.
However, a sense of danger or sudden motion can also trigger a fish to attack. It’s fight-or-flight in the ocean, another consideration besides hunger.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE FISHING EQUIPMENT IS THE BEST.
Generally speaking, fishing gear with a higher price tag is stronger, more durable, and better performing.
All that put together doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best equipment for you. You could spend twice as much on a reel that wouldn’t catch any more fish than the cheaper one.
The equipment that’s best for you is determined by more than just price.
Most of the time, it does matter what kind of line you use. It might be because your reel calls for a certain kind of line.
FISH BITE BEST IN THE MORNING AND EVENING.
Another partial fact that’s only true sometimes. For summer lake shore fishing this may be true.
The shallow water often heats up during the day, driving fish out into cooler depths.
Insect hatches on rivers during midday are common and you’ll see the trout explode into action.
I have caught more fish between 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon then any other time of day.
Midday action on the ocean and big lakes is also far from unheard of.
IF YOUR LINE GOES SLACK, YOU LOST THE FISH.
This is a mistake beginning fishermen make all the time. They’re rod’s bent and the fish is pulling when suddenly—nothing.
You see, fish are smart, but they’re also dumb. They’ll switch direction and run right at you, making it seem like they’re off your hook.
They’ll also eat a bait or lure that just had them hooked, if you leave them the chance.
BANANAS ARE BAD LUCK TO HAVE WHEN FISHING.
When the fishing is bad, you might hear someone ask about bananas. If anyone has any, get rid of them now.
Like most sports, fishing has its share of superstitions. The idea of bananas bringing bad luck to fishermen probably dates back to the time of steam-powered ships.
The gases put off by bananas led to some explosions on steam boats, and so their infamy was born.
Lake Michigan Boating Myth:
A Great Man Once Said: “There is nothing to fear, but fear itself!”
One day I noticed my neighbor was getting his new 16′ deep “v” fishing rig ready for a fishing trip. I asked him,“Are you going to Lake Michigan?” He looked at me and replied, “Hell no, Lake Michigan is too rough for me!” I asked him if he ever fished the lake before. He answered, “No”….. I told him that I have been fishing for salmon on Lake Michigan with a 16 foot deep V like his for over forty years and have never had a dangerous situation of any kind. I went on to explain how terrific fishing is on the lake. When I asked him why he did not even fish the big pond on calm days, he said he was not as crazy as me. Well, there is some justice in this mixed up world of ours. A week after our conversation I went fishing out of Portage Indiana on Lake Michigan and caught two big King Salmons. I showed my neighbor the monsters . He asked me where I caught them…..I told him that I was crazy enough to catch the beasts fishing on the big, bad, dangerous lake! I laughed at him and walked away!
REMEMBER! BRODY KILLED JAWS A LONG TIME AGO…..LOL! THERE IS NOTHING DANGEROUS ABOUT FISHING ON THE GREAT LAKES….. It is only a SUPER MYTH!
This myth has been around since boaters first started using the lakes, and has been perpetrated by the Media, and others that do not even fish on the big lakes, like my novice neighbor!! Fact is; there are more 16′ foot fishing boats trolling on the Great Lakes than any other size boat. However, I’m not a fool! There certainly are times that boaters should not even go near the water! Everyone knows that big bodies of water, like the Great Lakes are extremely rough at times….. so that means people should never fish on them? Do golfers stop golfing because lightening might take their lives? Do skiers stay home when there could be a landslide? Here is a good one! What if the NFL players stopped playing football because they might get a broken neck? I could go on and on, but I think I have made my point. Over the past forty years I have learned a few basic things to keep myself safe on Lake Michigan.
This is most important: Make sure you have all the safety requirements on your rig, a backup motor in case your motor dies and some sort of device to call someone if you do get in trouble. Carry a heavy river type anchor attached to about 200 feet of a strong rope. This could keep you from drifting across the lake and also, keep you bow in the right place in heavy water….. Then, a few hours before your fishing trip, check the weather for wind speed and direction. Find out how high the waves will be…..If they are predicting any more than 1-3 foot waves building to 2-4 footers, I usually take a pass, especially if they are north or northeast winds. If storms are in the area, I usually take a pass. If the predictions are one foot or less, or 1-2 footers building to 1-3 footers with any wind direction is should be a go! Sometimes the fish will be active even with north or east winds depending on the time of year and the water temperature. Now here is the rub, and most important. Try to stay within about 8-10 miles of shore, and if you have a small motor, even less. Use what God gave you between your ears! Always be checking the weather with a weather band radio while fishing. Never wait until the last minute to pack up and get the hell off the lake if a storm is in the area…..This is where boaters get in trouble! It’s a matter of everyday common sense!
When people get stupid things like this will happen!
As far as actual boating accidents go, they are mostly caused by stupid mistakes, and the fools that go to the lake to drink, do drugs and screw around (Actually these dummies are more dangerous than the lake) Then the Media picks up on it and the lake gets a bum rap! In most cases, the truth never gets told anyway!
Remember, horrible news & spin is the Media’s bread and butter! Indeed! There is no better fishery in America then the Great Lakes, and that includes LAKE MICHIGAN…..
There are many more myths that will be covered later…..
Thanks for looking & good fishing!