The author's father gives his artistic approval to the family's ice shack. Circa 2000.
If Vincent Van Gogh Were an Ice Fisherman
Last Thursday, I spent the evening on Lake Minnetonka with fellow PFer Anthony Hauck and Travis Frank of Ron Schara Productions, producers of Pheasants Forever Television on Outdoor Channel. Travis also owns and operates his own musky guiding business - Trophy Encounters. Travis knows muskies. I mean, he really knows muskies (Check out Travis' blog to see just how many monsters he boated last week alone!).
As I reflect on the biggest freshwater fish of my angling career, I've been trying to put my finger on why the muskellunge has always been my favorite species to target. I've often heard fishing pundits equate chasing muskies as more akin to hunting than fishing.
So, I've been thinking about that idea a lot. I've always liked fishing, but I've always been in love with hunting. If that saying about "musky hunting" is true, then maybe that's why I have such a strong affinity for muskies.
What I've come to determine is that while fishing and hunting are similar, fishing is fishing and hunting is hunting. There's just no such thing as "musky hunting." Sure, you move from spot to spot more often when your targeted fish is the musky. Sure, you're in search of a big predator looking for its next meal in musky fishing. But, does that make muskies any different than largemouth bass or even crappies? Don't the same principles apply to successful fishing techniques regardless of the species?
In hunting, when you "set the hook" and your shot is sure, an animal dies. Not true of musky fishing. My 47-inch monster swims again today. Plain and simple, hunting ends in guaranteed death and fishing does not. That's the one universal whether you're talking pheasants, grouse, deer, or bear hunting. Sure, fish do die when fishing. The difference; the angler makes the choice after winning the test of wits, or sometimes fish die as a result of their injuries. In hunting, the end HAS TO accompany death. There is no catch and release with a 12 gauge.
When people try to equate musky angling with hunting, I think the comparison comes from the muskellunge's position on top the freshwater food chain. When we "trick" a musky into taking our bait, we are conquering the top underwater predator. It's not hunting, but it doesn't have to be. It's musky fishing and that's just pretty darn awesome for what it is . . .