Never, Ever, Skimp on Your Leader
I almost titled this edition of story time “30 Minutes of Musky Madness”. A few years back my Dad, Brother and I decided to celebrate Fathers Day up at the trailer. We headed up North on the Sunday afternoon and had two days of hanging out, fishing Balsam Lake and enjoying downtime (re drinking) around the fire at night.
After a nice steak dinner and to many drinks around the fire on Sunday evening we woke up a little worse for wear Monday AM and our initial plan (my plan really, the others just humoured me) of waking up early to fish went to the wayside. After a huge breakfast, lunches were packed, gear loaded into the truck we were off to fish a mixed bag.
The first few hours of fishing were uneventful, a few dink bass, one small pike and not much else. Eventually we headed to our go to spot, a large weed flat that has produced just about every species on the lake for us over the years. At this point my Dad was fake fishing. What is fake fishing you ask? Basically, he was sleeping in the chair but still managed to drag a worm harness with a plastic grub wherever Dave or I took the boat. Honestly, we could be drifting, moving down a line casting or trolling and that worm harness just stayed out behind the boat (never snagged either – amazing skill).
Dave and I decided we would try trolling down the outside weed line and nudged my Dad and basically changed his lure for him and put on a Balsam staple for us – A Hot Head X Rap XR10. We meandered down the edge without much action and I put the boat in neutral so we could reel in a reassess. Just as I did my Dad “woke up” and said, “Boy’s I think I have a fish on”. I will admit I really didn’t believe him. Its just weeds I thought. Remaining seated he continued to crank it his line when suddenly you could really see his rod start to buck as whatever the hell was on his line dove for the bottom. As I jumped to the back to grab the net and Dave yelled “Holy sh!t man, stand up” a fat 30-inch Musky jumped once and rolled into the net. It was awesome.
Dave and I quickly changed to our casting outfits and turned the boat back around and started to feverishly work the both sides of the weed bed. Dave had on a Mepps Giant Killer Minnow and I was throwing a Dick Pearson Grinder. On what must have only been his 3rd cast Dave yelled out fish on. As I turned around to see where he was at, I saw what is to this day the largest musky head clear the water, shake twice and then… Snap. The fish was off. As Dave yelled out expletives and reeled in, I moved back to see what had happened as we both were using Musky rods loaded with 100 LB braided line. The fish was big, but not that big. Sure, enough the leader had busted wide open. Basically, the knot where the clip was had sheared and he was left with a 10-inch strand of wire all frayed at the end. “Man”, “I really should have changed that leader, it was pretty old and probably a Wal Mart special” he said. Here was a guy with a few hundred dollars worth of rod, reel and lure and he lost the fish of a lifetime by cheaping out on the leader lol. Therefore, I went with “Never, Ever Skimp on Your Leader” as my title.
Why 30 minutes of musky madness? Well about 10 minutes after Dave lost his musky, I hooked into a 43-inch beauty. Still to this day my personal best. So, in 30 minutes we caught a 30-inch musky, lost a giant and connected with a PB. Madness.