Waneta Lake 11/25


Earlier this week I got a text from longtime client Mark I. who’d happened to be looking at the weather forecasts and thought Friday looked great for a musky trip. If you follow my reports, you might recall that we tried to get out for some musky fly fishing a couple weeks ago and wound up running into a musky tournament. So instead of Waneta, we wound up having a brutal day (in terms of “catching” – though the weather was great) on Seneca Lake for pike.

So off we went this AM arriving at around 8:30 to find just 4 or 5 rigs in the parking lot. The weather looked great for muskies – we had a slight chop and overcast conditions. As I’ve stated before, I don’t consider myself a musky guide. I don’t fish them very often these days and I’m not interested in spending the day working hard and trying to keep clients upbeat and focused while hoping for an encounter or two (or hopefully more.) It’s not my cup of tea. I do occasional trips on Otisco Lake for Tiger Muskies but have been moving away from that recently.

Today can only be considered a day that any fisherman would cherish. Just fishing beyond expectations. And Mark deserved it! He’s been coming out with me since 2006 and works hard at his fly-casting – which shows; he’s amongst the best I’ve ever guided. He fishes hard and most importantly is a great guy who I never tire of seeing onboard (not that I tire of anybody!) He understands fishing and doesn’t complain when it’s tough – that’s fishing. But he has had a gorilla on his back since we started trying for Tiger Muskies a few years ago. His schedule is full and we can’t cherry pick nice days like I can with some people. So we’ve fished Otisco Lake on days that are calm and sunny, full of jet skiers, weed mats and other obstacles.

Within an hour today Mark set the hook into a fish. He said it was a good one. It stayed deep and pulled quite a bit. After a good battle I slid the net under a 47″ behemoth! An incredible musky on gear and even more amazing on a fly! We kept the fish in the water and got the cameras ready. Got some great shots and the fish was fairly easy to dehook. We were guessing maybe 30lbs. If it was less, it wasn’t by much.

An hour later Mark is doing a “figure 8″ on a fly-rod and a fish shows up and grabs his fly. Game on! This fish really fought well – jumping and doing a lot of herky-jerky stuff. I netted a 34″ stocky fish. No clip on this one (the first one was clipped.)

He had two consecutive follows in another area and worked the figure 8 but couldn’t get grabbed. That was a 40″+ fish.

We tried a different strategy as it got later and Mark hooked up again, far away. After another good deep battle I netted a 44” beauty! Got some more great shots and called it a day. The last one was also clipped. All fish were hooked in great places to dehook them – the “gums,” outside lip or just inside the corner of the mouth. All released unharmed. Don’t even try this stuff without a big musky net and the right tools! Keep the fish in the water as long as you can. Try not to bring them into the boat. There are plenty of good musky tips online.

The fish Gods paid Mark off in a big way for his perseverance. He’s caught his share of nice salmon and trout. He’s also landed many Bonefish, giant Tarpon and other saltwater fish on the fly, but he told me that this might go down as the best day of fishing he’d ever had. I was happy to be a part of it.

Nobody exists in a bubble and I’d be doing a great disservice if I didn’t give some props to Dave Vezendy, who showed me a couple of great musky fly-patterns and hipped me to some cool tips from Musky Fly Fishing Guide Brad Bohen. I’d also have to tip a hat to Joe Goodspeed, who certainly has proven that fly-fishing for muskies isn’t just viable – at times it’s one of the best methods to use to catch them.

Today was a day that really showed musky fishing’s varied dimensions. Hits far out, hits on the figure 8, digging battles, jumps – it’s all there. Muskies at times to me are overrated fish. In other ways they are seriously underrated. But at their best they imprint (maybe the better word is “brand”) you with memories for a lifetime. Mark’s gorilla on his back was jettisoned away today big time!