Otisco Lake 5/23 AM
Guided long time client Dave on Otisco Lake starting at 6 am. He hadn't caught a Tiger Musky yet and really wanted to, so we did a 1/2 day today. The conditions certainly weren't great with the bluebird sunny skies and zero wind but our early start really helped with the lingering fog.
Dave was casting a spoon and nailed a 37" beauty within 1/2 hour of our start. The fish was everything we could have asked for – it hit hard away from the boat, ran good and then jumped nicely and of course it was a nice sized fish. After Dave hooked up he was looking at me wondering what to do! Muskies are capable fighters but they aren't a King or Steelhead – you don't have to worry about them stripping your reel.
To me, the myth or legend of muskies and musky fishing overshadows the reality of the fish. Muskies are certainly an apex predator and capable of a fight that will provide a lifetime of memories. The musky myths really center around people not geared up for them. You hear stories of somebody reeling in a walleye or bass on 6lb test that gets hit by a giant musky and the person then fights the musky for 45 minutes (due to the light line) before either a.) landing the fish or b.) the musky releasing the other gamefish. That's where the mystique lies. The mystique also centers around big water, not small stocked lakes. The St. Lawrence River and Georgian Bay (Moon River) are a couple areas that have a lot of musky folklore.
We saw a bit of commotion on the surface for awhile not far from where we were fishing and ran the boat over. A huge Tiger musky was upside down and not doing well – clearly dying. We netted it and measured it at around 47" to 48" – a real beast. The fish stayed on the surface for awhile and then went under. I doubt it survived. We figured somebody caught it this past weekend. At OLM, the owner John confirmed that one of the regular musky fanatics reported landing a 48"er this weekend. I'm sure that was the same fish. I know hardcore musky anglers do their best to try to release fish unharmed. Some of these old trophy fish just don't have a lot of life left in them – it happens.
Anyways Otisco Lake has produced at least 4 fish that I have heard of over 46" during the past 2 years. I think the new regs are doing what they should do. I like the 36" size limit. It prevents the numerous 30" to 34" fish from being harvested (which happens a lot through the ice) yet allows for occasional harvest of bigger fish. Given that every single Otisco Lake fish is a hatchery fish I feel regs should allow for some harvest. Once in a while a fish gets mortally wounded and it'd be nice to be able to keep it. Plus, as we saw on the lake today, there are no guarantees with any fish being released surviving. We'd like to believe they all survive when not badly hooked. This fish looked good – we checked the mouth area really quickly and didn't see any signs of anglers but we didn't look for long.