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Slump Buster

I am happy to report that I recently ended a slump.  It had been a long, LONG time since I dried off a muskellunge.

Sure, you can comment about my lack of skills as an angler.  Not going to argue with that.  I suspect there also will be some miserable souls offer commentary about the poor fishing we have in Nebraska.  Whatever.

Those of you who have spent any time seriously, intentionally, targeting muskies know that under the best of conditions there will be slumps.  Every muskie is earned.  Some times, many times, it can be a long time between fish.

How long?

Let me tell you. . . .

Paging back through my notes and logs, it has been 171 3/4 hours of fishing, targeting muskies, between my last two.  Oh sure, there was a miss or two in those hours, there was a pike or two caught, one big walleye, one of my biggest bass, and I was net-man and picture-man for my cousin’s biggest muskie ever.  There was one heartbreak, after pausing to sharpen hooks, not three casts later I felt a fish thump my bait.  I jerked his eye-teeth out just like I learned from Gramps Roth.  A nice muskie, 40-some inches, rolled to the surface.  In slow motion I can still see that fish shake it’s head back and forth, back and forth, and then there floats my bait right beside it, to the left of her.

“There she was, gone.”

For all you know, I sat down and cried.  I ain’t telling; there was no one around to see.  You lose a fish like that after that long and see if you don’t cry.

Oh, for 171 3/4 hours I kept trying.  I fished at least eight different Nebraska muskie waters during that time.  I expected to see a fish on EVERY cast.

Some have said that muskies are the fish of 10,000 casts.  My initial reaction to that statement is that if it takes you that many casts, you ain’t doing something right.  Then again, if you divide 10,000 by 171.75. . . let’s see, carry the three. . . .  Well, I would only have to make 58 casts per hour to total 10,000 casts in 171.75 hours.  I might have been getting close.

When I hear someone asking questions about catching their first muskie, or getting started muskie fishing, I grin maniacally to myself.  If they only knew what they were getting into.

The fish I caught was a little muskie, only 30 inches.  But, anyone in a hitting slump will take any little blooper or seeing-eye, ground ball to break the slump.  It was a BEAUTIFUL 30-incher.

I would have taken photos, but it absolutely choked the bait.  I had to cut hooks to get the bait out.  Then, that fish did not need any more handling, any more stress.  He went back in the water ASAP.  He immediately swam off.  We will meet again.

I fished another hour after catching him.  Might as well start putting in my time for the next one!  She will not take so long.  She will be larger, much larger.

When I sat the hook on this fish, it exploded, porpoised, out of the water swinging it’s head back and forth.  That is the image that will stick in my mind for the next 170 hours.  Going to enjoy every minute of the pursuit.

Not the slump-buster, but a similar sized and similarly purdy ‘ski from a few years back.

About daryl bauer

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 25 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager. Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 120 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 14 different species and holds more than 30 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species. He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, be sure to check out his blog at outdoornebraska.org.

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