"A 55 inch Tale"
A light southwest breeze rippled the water as I listened to the hypnotic cadence of my topwater bait. The sun had recently settled below the distant horizon, and my senses were in tune to every nuance of the encroaching darkness. As I listened to the incessant quacking of a hen mallard, content in keeping her brood of ducklings in check, the ambience was rudely interrupted by a loud splash.
Instinctively, my body tensed as I anticipated the savage tug from the other end of the line, and as I felt it, I set the hook with all the strength I could muster. Immediately, the water erupted in a cacophony of splashes as my 8 foot St. Croix doubled from the burden of the big muskie. My chocolate lab Mookie, no doubt transfixed by all the commotion, awoke from her nap in the back of my Lund, and locked in on the muskie's topwater antics.
As I tried to gain some line and move the big muskie toward the boat, I quickly backed off my star drag in anticipation of the deep bulldogging runs to come. As she dove deep with the sheer power characteristic of a big muskie, the only thought racing through my head was, "How big is she?" After what seemed like an eternity, the muskie was boatside, but still deep, a sure sign of a big fish.
Inherently, I knew that the fun was only beginning! As my line changed direction and moved toward the bow of the boat, she suddenly shifted gears and began to give my drag a workout. As I quickly moved to stay with her, she suddenly rose to the surface, and I caught my first glimpse of her. My only thought was, "Wow!" The realization that this was a big muskie, bigger than I had imagined, kicked my adrenaline into overdrive.
After a couple of massive head shakes, the hawg decided to play ring around the rosies, and dove deep for another lap around the boat. The bait was barely discernible in her bucket size mouth, so I relaxed ever so slightly, cognizant of the fact that she was well hooked. Two complete laps and a grandiose drag workout later, she tired, and ascended to the surface.
As I extended my Frabill Big Kahuna net over the gunnel of the boat, her head shakes subsided, and I eased her over the waiting basket of the net. Still holding the rod in my hand, I hit free spool, thumbed the line and pushed down on the handle of the net with my free hand. As her massive body slipped completely into the net's huge basket, my knees began to shake, Mookie whined, and all was right in the world!
I quickly extricated the treble from her huge mouth, and as she lie in the net I thought, "It would really be nice to get a picture of this fish." As luck would have it, I flicked my headlamp on and off at a boat passing in the distance, and they were gracious enough to motor over and see if I needed assistance. As they pulled alongside, I asked if they would take a picture of the big muskie, still not knowing how long she actually was.
As they informed me that they were muskie fishermen from Wisconsin, we concurred that this was a huge fish. After a couple of pictures, she stretched the tape to just over 55 inches, eclipsing my two former personal best fish by a full inch! I can't thank these gentlemen enough for being concerned enough to come over, and then take the picture. This was a special fish!
After fishing for a couple more hours, I headed for the ramp, and I 'm positive I was glowing as brightly as the moon as I pulled away from the landing!