Posted at: 08/20/2013 11:30 PM
Updated at: 08/21/2013 10:52 PM
By: Laura Kennedy
If you're looking to land a tasty fish dinner...muskies aren't the way to go. Not only is it one of the most challenging fish to catch, but on the St. Louis River, it's strictly catch and release.
For Dustin Carlson and Pete Brzezinski of Northland Muskie Adventures Guide Service, it's all about the thrill of the chase.
"You fish all day and right when you least expect it sometimes, all of sudden you feel a huge tug on the line and it darn near rips the rod right out of your hands," Carlson said. "It's exciting and then the fight is on."
"As a muskie angler and guide you have to take all the factors into effect that you are fishing in and try to create a perfect storm for the situation that you're in," Brzezinski said.
Lately, muskies have been harder to find on the river. The DNR stopped stocking it nine years ago, hoping the fish would repopulate on their own.
"It's been pretty challenging the last three years," Carlson said. "We've seen the population start to go down and our catch rates have gone down significantly."
And last year's flood wreaked havoc on the river's structure and muskie habitats.
"What happened during the flood last year is it ripped up a lot of the weed bed, which did not come back for the most part," Carlson said. "So that can make it challenging to try to target fish."
Not only that, but navigating the waterway now brings its own challenges.
"Some of the stumps and some new sand bars that came out, it can make it a little bit difficult to get around up here, let alone the full sized trees floating around," Brzezinski said.
But these guides know the river like the back of their hand, and after what seemed like hundreds of casts, Carlson hooked a big one.
"I threw it tight up to shore and may have actually bonked her on the head with it because it no more hit the water and made one pull and she ate it," Carlson said. "It was exciting. A nice fight all the way to the boat. "
Reeling in a muskie is never easy, but Carlson says there's still a good population of them here, and persistent pays off when you finally land one of these elusive fish.
"You just keep casting and at some point good things will happen," Brzezinski said. "The only thing you have that'll put big fish in the boat is time. If you've got lots of time, you'll eventually figure it out and catch them."
If you're interested in muskie fishing on the St. Louis River or Lake Vermilion, you can get in touch with Northland Muskie Adventures Guide Service here: http://www.northlandmuskieadventures.com