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mammoth muskie


I'm primarily a smallmouth fisherman. However nearing 40 years of age and never having caught a muskie, I decided it was time to do something about it. Lost a couple muskies last year, nothing huge...they likely weren't bigger than 30 inches but still wanted revenge. My plan was to target the Youghiogheny, a river about 20 miles outside of the city.

Started out with a 7" Rainbow Trout Glider (top) and later on an 8" Swim Whizz (bottom).

This Lure Or That Lure?

Plenty of muskies on the same river where I lost one last year while bass fishing. I made the decision to target the mouth of a creek, as pike and muskie love feasting on trout stockies. I setup right at the point of where the creek met the river, very muddy and about a foot higher than normal. Started out fishing a 7" Rainbow Trout Glider. About half a dozen casts in is when I first spotted him. A monstrous mass looming behind my lure, 6 feet in front of me where there was a nice dropoff.  I gave the lure a few jerks and let it fall, but he just wasn't interested. Tried a 7" Suick Thriller with no luck, seems he didn't want to come up for it. Tried the biggest spinnerbait I had, never got a follow.

Threw on an 8" Swim Whizz and fished it deep, making as much contact with the bottom as possible. About 10 casts in as I was bringing it to shore, nearly 4 feet of toothy madness fired towards the lure like a torpedo...but he didn't eat it. It was obvious he was hungry for something on the bottom; few freshwater fish can resist the good 'ol crawdad. I dug through my bag looking for the biggest jig and trailer I had. A solo 1/2oz football jig that I had reserved for those rare occasions when I'm fishing for LMB (Largemouth Bass), and a 4" craw fatty. I figured that the mud bottom would not be very conducive to the smallies, so if I got a hit it would likely be Mr. Muskie.

After several change of lures and a tough fight, this is the end result.

The winning combo of Strike King Tour Grade Football Jig (top right) and
Berkley Havoc Bobby Lane's Craw Fatty (bottom left). Both green pumpkin.

Stay Calm At All Time

Dragged the jig on the bottom, and about 3 casts in he inhaled it. Set the hook hard. Within seconds I knew it was him because of the sheer force bending my rod in half. The rush I got when he came up to the surface! Told myself to take my time, as the last 2 muskies I lost were hurried. Also only had 20lb mono + 20lb wire leader on a 6'7" Ugly Stik so there was zero room for error. Everything started going right. Began reeling him down, and let him run when he wanted to. Could not have had my drag more perfectly set.

Could not get into the water because the mud was so deep, realized I would need to drag him to shore so just had to tire him out. Some fishermen were drift fishing out in the middle of the river, and happened to be on the up drift shortly after I had him hooked. They began to boat towards me as I was taming 30lbs of carnivorous carnage. Got him closer and closer to shore, his fins sticking up out of the water like a shark. A couple times got his head on shore, but he got back out in the water because there was a dropoff and no shallows. I told myself, if I lose this fish after being so close, I'm going to put a barrel in my mouth! Let him run a bit more and just wore him out. Head on shore again, this time grabbed him by the gill plate and drag him up.

It's difficult to get a grasp of its weight just by holding.

Help Appreciated

By this time the fishermen approached me in their boat with their jaws gaping. They tossed me some pliers, had an absolute perfect hook set in the corner of his mouth that was quite difficult to get out. The hook was somewhat bent....this is a 5/0 Strike King Tour grade hook mind you. The fishermen thankfully took some snapshots of me with the fish, so indebted to them because I would not have been able to get a picture of myself with the fish by myself. Got a quick measurement and slid him back into the water, holding onto his tail and pulled him back and forth to get water rushing through his gills. Only took him a minute to be on his way, he was a very healthy fish. Measurement was 44", and had to be close to 30lbs. Got back to the bass afterwards, but the biggest smallie I caught...18.5" at 3.5lbs was practically a laughable creek chub compared to the muskie.

44" of muskie power - he was released shortly after taking pictures and measurement.