Fished Mayfield Lake with Jesse C. the other day. We were looking for the elusive Tiger Muskie. Jesse has been researching the Tiger fishery at Mayfield for quite some time. He has fished it a couple times recently with our buddy, Nic V. Nic has also been researching the possibilities of this fishery with a fly rod. Their first two times out, they hooked fish… including a couple MONSTERS that Nic hooked and lost after a couple vicious head shakes. (And these fish really to seem to fit into the MONSTER category nicely).
So Jesse and I head down to Mayfield and put the boat in the water at a rough boat ramp. Only a half an hour or so into the day, we look down into the clear water and see a log with fins sitting in the weeds below. I must say, that was my first look at a live Muskie… a fish that I’ve been reading about and watching on TV since I was a little kid. It was pretty cool to realize that that log was not actually a log, and sitting right next to the boat in five feet of very clear water was a really, really big Muskie!
We did everything we could to try and get it to eat our flies but it eventually just swam off, not scared, but not interested either.
As the day progressed, we spotted more and more Tigers. Soon, we hardly took the time to tell one another we had seen one. I suppose we had seen around 15 Muskie by that time. Also progressing was the tiredness of our casting arms. Neither of us had what is probably the perfect rod – a 10-weight. Jesse was casting an 8-weight and I was casting a 12-weight. Both rods were loaded down with the largest flies we could throw. For me, that was a fly modeled after the flies Nic had been hooking fish on. It was something of a Double-Bunny, but with a 6/0 hook, a mega cone head, and a total length of over eight inches of double Magnum Bunny Strips. Hard hats recommended for sure…
Jesse and I moved around the lake and tried various areas. Later in the afternoon we decided to fish some docks that extended out into some deep water. We cast our giant flies to the docks as accurately as possible, but that isn’t saying much with those flies. Then, we would strip the massive things in, usually with quick, aggressive strips. I must admit, it was tiring on both of us, but eventually the hard work paid off. Just as my fly landed near a tree stump in the water near a dock, a large flash appeared from nowhere. I stripped the line and felt the tension. Jesse looked over at me just as I yanked back and leaned hard into the rod. Immediately, a Muskie exploded from the shallow water and danced on his tail towards the boat, his mouth open and teeth thrashing the whole time. Again he exploded on the surface, but soon he was just hanging deep under the boat.
Jesse was prepared and reached for his huge net that he had purchase just for Muskies. It didn’t look so big now, as he dipped it in the water a scooped up the first Muskie we’d get to meet face to face.
This Tiger Muskie was by no means a monster. It was 32-inches long. Some of the bigger fish we spotted must have been getting close to 50-inches and fish of that size and larger are caught there. However, it was the joy of just getting one to eat a fly and then to get it to the boat where we could simply look at it that was so much fun. I plan to get back down there soon to see if we can do it again and hopefully get one of those big fellas to the boat! You’ll certainly see those pictures here if we do….