Musing Over A Muskie Miss

My recent trip to Lake Storey featured a hookup with a muskie, the first one for me on the lake since 2017. It did not end well as the fish busted off at boatside a foot or two from my dipnet. Today’s post features the GoPro footage along with my assessment of the near catch. First up, some footage, followed by a description of the event, and finally some of the “what ifs” when hooking a muskie on bass fishing gear.


The Fight

I hadn’t hooked an “accidental” muskie at Lake Storey in five years, but such an opportunity is always in the back of the mind when casting on the old fishing hole. Well, that drought ended with a solid hookset on a Red Eye Shad that immediately registered as something heavy. The fish headed deep and while I had yet to get a visual, I suspected that it had teeth. Sure enough, a couple of explosions on the surface confirmed my suspicion. The view also confirmed that the lure was inside its mouth which spells trouble for twelve-pound monofilament line. I figured that it was just a matter time before the line would get cut so I went for a do-or-die approach to get it within net reach as soon as possible and hope I got it before it freaked out. Net in hand, I had the fish within a foot or two of potential capture when a head shake separated my lure from my line. The muskie lay near the surface just out of reach for a split-second as I made a futile stab before the fish realized it was free and disappeared with a thrash. It was exciting while it lasted but still kind of makes me sick to my stomach watching the replay in my head (and on video).


What If

Line – I am a monofilament guy and was casting twelve-pound test Trilene line and targeting bass. Of course, there is always a chance of hooking a toothy muskie or walleye on Lake Storey so braided line and especially a wire leader can be beneficial. I like the action of my bass lures on monofilament, so I take my chances and in this case I lost.

Drag – The fish did pull drag, so I am satisfied that the setting did not cost me this fish. At the point of the breakoff, my rod was still rather upright and absorbing much of the load from the large fish. I maintain that the weak link was the way in which the fish was hooked.

Fight – Upon seeing the fish roll, I knew I was on borrowed time since the lure was not visible on the outside off the muskie’s mouth. I took a shot at trying to get the fish within net’s reach as soon as I could knowing full well that a fresh fish could end the fight with a sudden run. I just didn’t feel that a prolonged battle would end favorably with the mono scraping around those teeth.

Net – It’s a bit of a stunt trying to guide the fish with one hand on the pole while taking aim with the dipnet with the other arm. My net was in the water within a foot or two of the fish when the line snapped. So darn close but what if I had a fellow angler in the boat? I am sure that the odds would have been better, but I probably would have instructed the netter to remain to my left in the video clip thus farther from the fish when it came loose. My plan would have remained at guiding the fish to the net and hoping it didn’t freak out at boatside.

Percentages – I have landed fifteen muskies in my life. Fourteen of the fifteen have been while fishing with ten or twelve-pound monofilament. The lone outlier was caught while actually targeting muskie with braided line and a leader. Beyond the muskies landed, I have lost three. One was short fish (mid-twenty inch) that flopped out of an inadequate dipnet. Another was the heaviest muskie that I have ever hooked that busted off at boatside when I asked my net man, Brent, to hold off for a second (bad move on my part). And of course, this fish which would’ve probably ranked third among the largest muskies I have ever hooked. That previous poor decision to have my net man wait also came into play in rushing the fish this time around as well.

The “one that got away” is a fishing standard. It happens to anyone who spends time on the water. I have been fortunate to not have too many heartbreaks that keep me up at night wondering what might have been or what should have been done differently. This one bothers me. And I’m sure it will bother me for a long time. Not only losing the fish but hoping that it will not suffer any ill effects and be able to rid itself of my Red Eye Shad in some fashion so that either myself or another fortunate angler will cross paths with the fish in the future. Talk to you later. Troy

2 thoughts on “Musing Over A Muskie Miss

  1. Troy, I would imagine you and Moises Alou now share a common feeling! I’m glad you didn’t react the same way our former left fielder did against another type of fish ( Marlin ). I’ll leave Steve Bartman out of the conversation. K.O.

    1. Well, the Cubs eventually got another shot and got it done. Just hope that I don’t have to wait thirteen years. Fortunately, profanity is not one of my habits as the reactions on any of my videos are not staged. Simply involuntary commentary as I am not a polished YouTuber or actor, just me. Thanks for reading and taking the time to provide some input.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *