This week's blog post comes to us from Norvise ambassador Mike Corrigan. Mike spent some time chasing the fish of 10,000 casts during the pandemic and he shares his experience here. This is a timely post as we just put up his video "Mike Corrigan ties the Comet Minnow" on our YouTube page. You can see the video by clicking HERE If you have not already you may want to subscribe to the new Norvise YouTube channel. we are posting 2 videos per week, this is a great resource for learning new techniques on the Norvise.
Since landing my first Musky a few years ago, I have been addicted to the maddening follows and the mayhem that ensues if the fish do commit. When able to spend a day on the water pursuing Muskies, I generally define success simply by the number of “follows”. Fish or no fish it is a day well spent just to be able to entice these predators. Interestingly, the smaller lakes that do have Musky here locally are generally devoid of other fly rod species; there are Musky and there is bait!
A year ago I decided to hire a guide and get serious about chasing Musky. Where I am living in central Canada there are a lot of Musky, but no guides that cater to fly anglers. As a former guide, all I was looking for was someone with the knowledge of the water and the habits of the fish. The lake the guide selected was absolutely perfect for fly fishing, it is a long narrow lake with lots of bays and as it turned out an abundance of fish; both Musky and Tiger Musky. Much to the guides surprise, we did very well that day, well enough for me to plan a trip back in 2020.
Over this past winter, with last years trip in mind, I contacted some buddies in at my local fly fishing club (Manitoba Fly Fishers Association) and it was very easy to fill the 5 other spots. The plan was to stay at a drive to lodge a few hours away, in the heart of Musky country, and give it a go. Four of the 5 others had never cast a fly to a Musky let alone seen one in person. With expectations tempered for the “fish of ten thousand casts”, and warnings from the lodge owners that Musky on a fly was a tough go, we hatched a plan. Fly fishers, it seems, are certainly the eternal optimists.
Between that December 2019 fishing pact with the group and the whole world being turned upside down with the COVID issue things were touch and go. The trip was on then off then back on, then delayed. Our assigned week was moved 3 weeks past the season opener, but we did have the plan finally come together with the original 6. The 4 newbies hired the guide I had used the previous year for a day; splitting the morning and afternoon session so all had a chance to learn the way of the Musky.
The fly patterns we used were small compared to the ones that are touted as a requirement to catch Musky. The fly I refer to as my “Goldfish” accounted for my 40” and 41” fish plus numerous other smaller ones. We didn’t throw flies any longer than about 5”. The Musky were also keyed into top water and large 1” square poppers did the trick. As an aside, I do fish Musky from a pontoon boat on some of the smaller local lakes. I have observed, on several occasions, that during the Hexigenia hatch the Musky will slurp these easy prey like a Trout. So, it is not all about the top predator only eating baitfish. Apparently, Musky like to change up their food source as well.
For the duration of the trip we all fished barbless hooks. It is not a local requirement but it is just the way we fish. Most of the Musky we landed did not require any hook removal whatsoever. With their nasty sets of teeth we reasoned that they bite down on the fly and their teeth get tangled in the material that we dressed the fly with. Once they feel the net they seemed to open their mouths and the fly “self-released”.
One morning we had a rain delay and I went through leader building with the Knot2Kinky wire. It is amazing stuff to use once you get comfortable with the knots. As most anglers know a normal store bought leader would be good for one toothy fish and then it is finished.
During the week we noticed some rather odd Musky behavior. We had several fish put their noses literally on the gas motor as we were using the electric to maneuver the boat along the shoreline. We also had a 40” plus fish follow us along the side of the boat (within a rod length) for several hundred feet of shoreline; we literally cast over its head into the likely holding water. It seemed they may be programmed that a release of a tired Walleye might happen? For most of the week we would follow up a cast with a large oval pattern with the rod tip, often seeing Musky appear from the depths. We would drop the rod tip well within the water column, so the fly would have a downward movement followed by raising the rod tip and subsequent ascent of the fly. This technique would end up producing several fish including my largest. Figure 8’s aren’t impossible with a fly, but they are more difficult.
The week really was one for the memory banks and it was a trip of a lifetime for most. We have plans for 2021 already in place and we may do some exploring to some neighbouring lakes as well. Like I say this part of Canada is Musky Central and there are lakes available with the 50” plus brutes, but I am still “baby stepping” my way up to them after landing some of the hawgs on this trip.
One of our Norvise ambassadors recently got some ink in a well publicized magazine. Read on to learn about what the author touts as the brightest young fly tier to hail from the "Old Dominion" state.
Many of you have heard us talk about Braden Miller. Braden is one of our Norvise ambassadors, a fantastic fly tier, great fly fisherman and all around just a quality human being. These things probably won't surprise you as anyone that has ascended to ambassador level of three major manufactures with in the industry (Braden is a TFO and Fair Flies ambassador as well) would naturally possess these talents. What you may find surprising is his age, Braden has accomplished this at the ripe old age of 13! That's correct, Braden just became a teenager less than a year ago. We here at Norvise are proud of Braden. Proud of what he has accomplished, proud to have him as an ambassador, and most importantly, proud to call he (and all of his family) friend. Check out the article and give him a follow on Instagram and Facebook. He is a great follow.
Click the link to read this fantastic article.
They didn't make it into the article, but below are the pictures of Braden's Musky taken by photographer extraordinaire Casey Miller. Now, here is where I must mention Braden's parents Casey and Will. Now, I personally don't know too many parents, especially mom's, that would sit on the back of a drift boat in December so their son could catch a Musky with his idol. That is exactly what Casey did. Whether they are driving (or flying him) a few hundred to a few thousand miles to do a show, or freezing in the back of a drift boat in December, Casey and Will are totally on board and supporting Braden every step of the way. You really have to admire strong willed, southern parents that have raised their kids (ALL 4 BOYS!) to be respectful young men and support the kids dreams. Casey and Will, your boys are lucky to have you!
Check out these pics!
Braden will be at many of the fly fishing and fly tying expo's this season. We will be posting up a schedule as soon as the dates are available. If you are at one of these shows stop out and meet Braden. Spend just a few minutes with this young man and you will quickly realize the authors comments are 100% accurate. The Fly Fishing and Fly Tying Future is in fact very bright in Virginia and Braden is carrying the torch at the head of the line! Till next time...
Tight lines - Tim