Written by: Dan Davala
This past Tuesday, my good friend Trent Jones and I had the opportunity to chase some Virginia muskies with Orvis-endorsed Guide Matt Miles. While Matt guides clients for everything from trout to stripers, hunting down these toothy “river monsters” with a fly rod is his favorite challenge. You can tell it really gets his blood pumping. This was our second time fishing with Matt, a rematch if you will, since the first trip resulted in fourteen follows to the boat and one BIG EAT for Trent. Unfortunately, that hook found no home. This time, the stats were a bit different—only two follows and one eat, but one was all we needed!
Strip-setting an 8/0 hook into the jaw of an apex predator with a mouthful of teeth is a bit like sucker-punching a prize fighter in a parking lot. There may be a still, short moment of disbelief, but you’re in for a street fight when that moment ends. The fight is hard, it’s close quarters, and it’s down and dirty. There’s no hope and no reason to get these fish on the reel. With a straight 60-pound leader it’s an all-in tug of war with only one victor, and your net better be big enough if you happen to prevail.
I came in heavy with my 12-weight Helios 2; I’d brought a gun to this knife fight and I leaned hard on it. In a few short minutes, I had my first muskie in the boat, and I was truly in awe of her. While I’d love to claim that skill and angling prowess were the determining factors, I know I was simply in the right place with the right people and had the right fly in the water at the right time. That’s muskie fishing with a fly rod. Any given day it can happen, and any given day you can work your butt off only to see nothing for the effort. Either way, you’ll keep coming back for more.
A huge “Thank You” and much credit to Matt Miles for putting me on my first muskie ever! That I got to share the whole thing with Trent, who is one of my best friends, only made it all the more special. I’m already looking forward to the next one!
Dan Davala is the Fishing Manager at Orvis Arlington (VA). He is a Certified Master Casting Instructor and the founder of Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders, a vibrant fly fishing community in the Washington, D.C. area. Trent Jones is the Fishing Manager at Orvis Bethesda (MD). He is also a Certified Casting instructor and a Tidal Potomac Fly Rodders Ambassador At Large. Dan and Trent pull off Fishing Adventures and other shenanigans together as often as possible. Both were featured in the 2012 film, “Urban Lines.”