My brother Brian and I were able to get out Friday to chase muskie, the fish of 10,000 casts, with my friend and Orvis-endorsed guide Matt Miles. Over the past couple winters, I have gone on targeted floats for this elusive fish and have simply come up empty handed. Having moved more than a couple of large fish and even getting one to eat, I began to realize how tough this fish could be and how everything needed to line up for success. Last December, I watched my good friend, Dan Davala, hook, play, and land one of these apex predators while floating with Matt on the James River. I was astounded by the fish’s size, its coloration, its eyes and jaws, and quite frankly its demeanor. These fish just seem to know that they are the baddest animals around. Sharing the boat for a few moments with that particular muskie did nothing to lesson my lust for catching one.
So, on Friday morning, as we put the boat in the water I pondered the muskie and tried to calculate, figuratively, where I may be on my count to 10,000 casts. I prepared to spend my day being cautiously optimistic and diligent on every cast, retrieve, and figure-eight. It was a really cold morning with little wind and a light snow. On my third cast, I hung the bottom, on my fourth cast I noted aloud that ice was forming on my guides, and on the sixth cast I came tight to a fish. I strip-set twice before the fish began to shake its head, feet at a time, in an effort to dislodge the hook. I purposefully remained calm throughout the fight to avoid mistakes and revel in the connection between myself and the fish. A couple minutes later, the fish was landed, validating all of the hours thinking about and chasing muskies. It was everything it had been billed to be. It was everything I had built it up to. It was awesome.
Later in the day, my brother Brian came tight to a fish, just to have it gnaw through the 60-pound leader. It made wonder how many casts were needed for that particular beast….
Big thanks to Matt Miles for putting me on my first muskie!
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. Trent was featured in the 2012 film, “Urban Lines.”