Tag Archives: muskellunge

Pike Nasty

I stopped into Atlantic Outfitters yesterday for some supplies and mentioned to John Thompson, the owner, that I’m getting ready for my northern pike outing next month. He pulled this from his tying table, a creation from one of his weekly tying classes, and gave it to me to test for results. Looks to be pike nasty, maybe even muskie nasty, so we’ll see what goes down.

Fierce Bad Rabbit

Killing rabbits has become trendy in Brooklyn. Okay then, but what are they doing with the pelts?

As Matt Stansberry reminded me in his blog post about his pike ties on the vise, rabbit strip agrees with the Esox family.

We’ve got our own pike fishing trip coming up in May. While I’m more apt to fish a Puglisi pattern or an Eat-Me, I’ll always dedicate time working some dead rabbit. I’m haunted by the memories from Aught Two, when our man Crispin worked the vise one night, then used his white rabbit-strip creation to entice this 52″ muskie out from under a felled tree.

Damn I’d be down with some of that.

Old School

Uncle Frank
Uncle Frank's 44 1/2" muskie from 1951.

The place on the river has been in the family since the 1840s. As good as my brothers and I think we are, being the only ones who really fly fish the area, the best angler in our family’s time had to be Great Great Uncle Frank. We have pictures of him handling several large muskie, stringers of smallmouth, and a human-sized wahoo from Florida, where he also fished. He used bait casters and oiled silk and catgut and wooden lures and plugs.

Another Uncle described him as a water genius. In his later days he became legally blind but he still took out the skiff  every day and tended to his minnow traps and fished. He’d find his way by shadows based on time of day and the sounds the rapids and current made in different stretches of the river. Makes the thought of using a fish finder seem a little bit like cheating.

Degrees of Difficulty


I met up with Robert Tomes, who wrote the book Muskie on the Fly. Not surprisingly, when he fishes saltwater he  chases permit.


“I like fish that don’t like me,” he said.

The comment turned the discussion to mapping the personal evolution of the fly angler.

Making the commitment to learn to cast a fly rod, and then catch fish with it, means you’ve already made a decision to make things harder on yourself.

At the beginning the focus is on just getting that one fish to fall in line. That first fish on the fly is like the stamp on your hand as proof of admission.You never want to wash it off.

Then it becomes kind of a numbers game; success is measured in the amount caught. Some people never grow beyond here, and that’s ok.

But for others the numbers at some point become meaningless.

Defined success gradually comes full circle, returning again to the act of catching a single fish. It evolves into a game about degrees of difficulty, where fishless days do not count as failures but as dues paid towards a singular goal–the one where you put everything together to hook a fish that has no business being hooked, a fish that prior to your presentation had used up every weapon in its arsenal to avoid this predicament. It’s high times.

The clinical term for this is masochism.