What a coincidence, Monday’s arrival of the May, 2012 NEBRASKAland and Wednesday’s fishing trip into the Nebraska Sandhills. Author Jeff Kurrus wrote what turned out to be a very timely article on Nebraska’s musky population: The State of the Musky Address, Nebraska’s 50-inch Niche in the May NEBland. It arrived on Monday here in Alliance and my fishing partner Bob Jatczak of Alliance and I had already scheduled a fishing trip into the Nebraska SandHills, not for a musky, but for yellow perch and walleye.
I’m not a musky fishermen and I hadn’t found time earlier in the week to read Jeff’s article, but like most photographers, I had seen the article’s photographs and like most anglers I thought that as rare as these big fish are, my chances of catching and landing one were slim and none.
We were not fishing for a musky, although we knew they were found in our destination lake and by happy coincidence, pure luck or sheer accident the beautiful female musky shown here (the green one) hit a very small crankbait as we began trolling for walleye. Even more surprising, I was using four-pound test Fireline that normally lets a trolling crankbait run one or two feet deeper in a long line presentation.
I really wish I’d found an opportunity to read Jeff’s article before hand, if so, and I was lucky enough to land this large female , (we didn’t take the time to measure but our wild “guesstimate” was north of 40-inches and possibly around 20 pounds) I would have left the trophy fish in the water (we didn’t have a “cradle” used by dedicated musky anglers). Bob netted the musky with his “undersized” net after it ran under the boat to the other side and gently lifted her into the boat. A few photos later I released the fish back to the water. She stayed on the surface for several minutes as we watched before swimming away. Whew! Again, if I’d read the musky article, and been prepared, our catch may have went very different. We could have raised the fish from the water for a photo, but then return the musky to the net and the water, carefully removing the small hooks and let the musky revive in the net until it could swim away. As a fisheries biologist said, “If wishes were horses, beggers would ride”. For now I’ll identify the Sandhill lake as “Shangri-La”, coincidently as well, the secret base that launched the WWII Jimmy Dolittle raid.
Wednesday was indeed a very happy accident. I’d also really like to have seen the fish that apparently took a bite of this musky, leaving the teeth marks behind her gill!