The addition of muskies to the Lake Vermilion fishery has brought an exciting new experience to fishermen. Muskies are a legendary fish. The St. Lawrence River fishery has been a muskie fisherman's paradise. Presidents and world leaders have vacationed fishing muskie among the Thousand Islands section of the river. Some of the world's largest muskies have been taken there.
Then there are the Leech Lake muskies. When they go "on the feed", muskie fishermen from across the nation drop what they're doing and head for Minnesota. More muskies in a five-day "feeding frenzy" have been caught than during the whole rest of the season.
Canadian shield lakes are home to many muskies too. Several "TV fishermen" dedicate whole seasons of shows to catching them. The cold water and short growing seasons make for slow growing fish but the same conditions allow the fish to have much longer life spans than muskies from waters further south.
And now there's Lake Vermilion muskies. The most recent plants haven't been around long enough to gain full size. The earliest have only reached 50-55 inches in length. We haven't had many dedicated muskie fishermen on the Lake to know if the fish do go on feeding sprees or not. And as for cold water and short summers, well, lets not get into that.
But there is one thing about our muskies that is unique. They seem to display a sense of cunning never before seen in the species. Here's one example of their prowess. It seems late last August two rather neophyte muskie fishermen were trying their luck. They had all the necessary equipment ‚ new graphite rods, the new stronger-than-steel line wound on top shelf wide-spool reels. Every shape and color lure was in their tackle box ‚ spoons, plugs, crank-baits. Everything right out of the front pages of that catalog from 1-800-BASS-PRO.
Anyway, all morning they'd been working the Lake near Oak Narrows ‚ definitely prime muskie water. At noon they decided to take a break at the Sportsmen's Club shore lunch site on Wolf Point. If you've been there, you know the place. Sitting back eating lunch ‚ sandwiches and coffee, they were watching a squirrel doing the same thing. Just about 40 yards to the left of the site if you're looking out on the water there's an old balsam tree hanging out over the water. Right next to it are several large oak trees. And out from shore about 10 feet is a large flat rock that sticks up out of the water by several inches. The squirrel was trying to gather up the meager crop of acorns under and around the oak trees. He kept looking at one large acorn sitting on that rock. As the fishermen watched, the squirrel kept running up the balsam and out on its branches to reach the rock. And as it got out far enough on the branches they would dip down with the added weight and the squirrel would run back to the tree trunk. He finally found the right branch, with the right dip, and jumped out to the rock. The two fishermen had to cheer that feat of courage. The squirrel quickly grabbed the acorn and turned around to get back to shore. Of course without the weight of the squirrel, the branch sprung back up out of reach. That squirrel criss-crossed that rock for ten minutes trying to find a way back. Probably the thought of hawks and eagles finally drove that squirrel to try swimming to shore. But as the fishermen watched, the squirrel only got about two feet of swimming in before a huge muskie got him.
Needless to say, sandwiches flew in one direction and coffee cups in another. Those two fishermen were on that fish like - well, snow on my roof. They tried every lure in their arsenal. They used every technique know to fishing video watchers and a few more they invented on the spot. A muskie is a territorial fish so they knew he was around. But they couldn't find the right combination of lure and presentation to entice that fish to hit.
After an hour and a half of working that shoreline to a froth, they'd about given up. Back they went to the shore lunch site to collect the scattered noon meal. Being good fishermen they took the time to pick up all their leavings. And as they were getting back into their boat they heard splashing sounds coming from that big flat rock. There before their very eyes was that muskie ‚ putting another acorn on the rock.
This tale is only the beginning of muskie lore on Lake Vermilion. For as we well know, the art of fishing is as much in the telling as it is in the catching.
(Rick Pearson,-August,1996 Cook, MN)