John Bentley and I made our second trip to Northern Pennsylvania in preparation of the Beast of the East Musky fly fishing tournament in October. We debated on fishing the first section of the river that we had such good luck in the previous week or explore a new section. We decided on the latter an View more...John Bentley and I made our second trip to Northern Pennsylvania in preparation of the Beast of the East Musky fly fishing tournament in October. We debated on fishing the first section of the river that we had such good luck in the previous week or explore a new section. We decided on the latter and we launched the Flycraft two man raft with high hopes of finding some good Esox water.
Our set up for the day would be an Orvis H3 12wt , with a 12" Bucktail Game Changer in Firetiger color from Nightmare Musky Flies. John was first on the rod and the first spot we came to was a good looking series of bridge abutments. John began peppering the up side of the first abutment then the lee side. We moved along slowly making sure to hit all likely ambush spots. But after thoroughly covering the area no fish were moved so we proceeded down river.
It was now my turn to fish and John eased the raft within casting range of a high metal erosion wall with some tree limbs littered about. I placed several casts on the outside edge of the wooded mess trying to coax out any Musky that may be using it for a hiding spot. An errant cast landed inside the tangle and John commanded the boat toward my hung up fly bringing us mere feet away from the wall. Upon retrieving the fly, John slowly backed the boat out and I cast my fly towards the edge of the metal wall and started to strip. Two to three strips later a long torpedo shaped fish attacked my fly from the dark depths and I was hooked up with what I hoped was a Musky. But instead of a Musky I had caught ts' cousin a nice Northern Pike. After some quick pictures we set the fish free and moved along.
John was back on the rod and we moved to the next likely hiding spot. This time it was a long hole with some fast water at the head that turned into a large eddy at the tail out. Any large fish in the area had to use the eddy for protection front the strong current. John placed cast after cast into the zone when suddenly a large unknown fish viciously struck his fly and the fight was on. As I readied the net the fish thrashed the surface and John and I both thought it was a Musky. But once John got the fish closer we saw that it was an absolute beast of a Walleye. After a "Keystone Cops" net job by me we finally subdued the giant fish. We got the fish to shore where we took a bunch of pictures and measured it at 32" and we guessed it's weight at over 12lbs. The fish was truly a once in a lifetime trophy but John being the sportsman that he is released it back for another lucky angler to hopefully catch some day.
The rest of the drift was uneventful with only one follow from a nice Northern Pike. Although we had two great "bi catch" fish in the boat John and I couldn't quit second guessing our decision to float this new section of River instead of the section we knew had Musky in it. With 10 hours already in, sun burnt, tired, hungry and almost out of water we made the crazy decision to put the raft in at the launch from the previous week and paddle around to a few of the spots that we knew held fish.
I was first to fish and I focused my casts to the large boulders that litter the area. Every cast and retrieve brought nervous excitement with visions of a large Musky biting my fly. A fumbled cast half heartedly launched my fly 10 feet from the raft, tangling my excess fly line around my seat. As I attempted to untangle the mess my fly slowly fluttered towards the bottom and as if on queue a Musky slammed the fly then released it before my eyes.. They have a bad habit of striking at the most inopportune times and this was a classic example of that. After all the hours of back breaking casting, to lose this opportunity was highly frustrating. I continued to fish and minutes later a small Musky followed my fly to the boat thus ending my day on the rod.
John got his last casts in and had a really big Northern Pike follow his fly to the boat. All in all it was a great day on the water and although we didn't boat a Musky we are learning a lot about the water we will be fishing in the tournament in October.