People often ask me about my catches. “What is your biggest?”, “What was the heaviest?”, “What was the most unusual?”. I have to say that the last one is the easiest of all to answer. It is one of many memories from a lifetime spent outdoors. On a perfect spring morning I rise and get ready to make the drive to one of my favorite musky haunts. Anticipation is always high when the water is just right and the bite is on. A quick stop for a slice of breakfast pizza and a carton of chocolate milk and now I am reasonably fueled for a morning of fierce battle on the water. The time is now 5:00 A.M. On my way, I stop at my favorite creek to catch some live bait to use. In just a few minutes I had a nice variety of local chubs and large shiners. A large sucker was the prize of the morning. I can’t wait to get him on a rig and in the water! I drive for a little over an hour altogether and I smile when I pull in to my spot. The first faint hint of the coming sunrise starts to show the mist on the water. There is no one here at all! Perfectly quiet! I can’t get out of my Jeep fast enough. I hurry to gather my gear and get ready for the walk through the woods to get to my point. This is musky fishing from shore at it’s best! I walk out to a narrow strip of land that is basically surrounded by a very gently flowing backwater, with a large open pool in front of me. I have been fishing this spot for many, many years. It has actually been nicknamed “Paul’s Point”. I have not been here ten minutes and the cars start pulling in already, filled with other eager fishermen hoping to get in on the early bite. They pull in across the backwater from me and proceed to set up also. I get all set up and pull that large sucker out of the bait bucket. Once I get him all rigged up properly, I cast him out to a spot where big fish cross frequently and set the rod down. Now to casting a large spoon to start quietly with my other rig. There are now half a dozen other fishermen facing me from across the water, all looking at me like I am crazy. People in my area were not yet keyed in to using such large baits. Things have changed in recent years though. After a few casts , I look beyond my bobber with the sucker, and see a large wake headed straight for my rig! I calmly ( I say that now!) lay down my casting rod and gently pick up the bait rod. In a splash my bobber goes down hard and fast. Line is free-spooling off the reel fast! It starts to head for some very nasty, snaggy water, so as long as it is headed away from me, I thought I would take my chances and set the hook. And set the hook I did! I arched my back with the effort and groaned when I felt that hook catch solid matter! As I settle in for the fight, it leaps out of the water………. it’s an otter! I caught a furry mammal?!?!..?.. That’s a first! I can’t believe it. After a fairly good tussle, I get him reeled in to the bank. Thank goodness for very stout musky rods! This is one unhappy critter with very large teeth, that has 2 of my treble hooks in it. Somehow I manage to hold him at bay long enough to grab my hook cutters. It has one hook in it’s lower lip and the other is caught in it’s fur on the chest. As I get closer you can see the animal stiffen up and start to say unpleasant otter things. I aim for the hook in the chest fur and get lucky, cutting the shaft of the hook on the first try. Screaming another curse at me it pulled back hard and in doing so, pulled the other hook free. Still cussing at me, it crossed a little creek and ran off through the trees toward the main river. You could hear it swearing at me for five minutes! I was happy he was loose and basically unharmed. That’s when the other fishermen yelled from across the water and asked me why I didn’t kill the otter. They said they eat all their walleyes. I started laughing and said that in reality, they were eating the otter’s walleyes. It was his home, we are just visiting. I think sometimes this very simple lesson can be forgotten. There were no more negative comments from across the water and all was well. Fishing went on as normal for the rest of the day. I will always remember that otter very fondly, although I am sure it doesn’t share the same opinion. He has given me a great experience and a story with a lesson to share. Every once in a while I will hope to see it again, on better terms. It was a day of musky fishing with a furry twist that surprised us both! A mammal,… I still smile when I think of it.
This has been one the most unusual years I have ever been witness to as far as the weather and the fishing goes. In Northwest Iowa the rains seemed never-ending for a while, especially on weekends. Waters are high all over the area, with levels that have not been seen in a few seasons. Some of these waters greatly needed the increase because of low levels from last years drought. It is good to see these waters back to normal. As far as the rivers go, these heavy rains have caused a lot of flooding. Farmland and fields newly planted with this years crops have taken a beating in some areas. As far as the fishing goes, once again it depends on where you live and what you are fishing for. Because of the unstable rivers and muddy waters, the musky and pike bite has been off and on from day to day. Nothing that you can predict with the crazy barometer this year. The bass, crappie, and big bluegills, on the other hand, have been great this year! I have been fishing out of my new WaveWalk500 fishing kayak and it has been giving me access to waters that others are not able to get to. As a result, I am able to target fish that are not pressured, and it is working very well. It is amazing how much you can see and learn from such a silent , low-profile craft. Fish swim right under you without spooking. Awesome to see! I am now offering kayak trips and kayak fishing through my guide service. Right now I am only able to take one person at a time for kayak bookings, but I am hoping to change that shortly. I am also offering bow-fishing trips. You would be suprised how much fun it is to get a 20 pound carp on the end of an arrow. You can’t stop the smile on your face! Once again, from the kayak I can only do one at a time, but there are other options, too. I am also offering fishing lessons and classes for small parties or large groups. I have been certified by the State of Iowa DNR as an official “Fish Iowa” Instructor. So not only do I get the honor and priviledge of introducing many people to the sport, but this also gives me access to many of the materials the DNR makes available for young or new fishermen, promoting our great fishing in the State of Iowa! Please feel free to contact me at ant time if you have any questions about any of my services or products. As far as products go , I am proud to introduce the latest in my line of terminal tackle. It is another leader, but geared towards finer fishing. This product came up as a result of a day of walleye fishing where the big pike were biting me off every other cast. Not a major problem, but I was after walleye that day ,not pike. But walleye will not take to the sight of a heavy leader and it seems a little silly to cast a curly-tail jig on one too. So I went home that night and came up with what I will use from now on when casting for walleye during aggressive feeding. It is made with a ultra thin 40# test 7 strand wire, with a super small stainless steel swivel rated at 80# test. The snap is of my own design again, with nothing to open or close, changing lures in an instant. These snaps are smaller than any I have made before and they are super strong, made with 140# test spring steel wire. The entire leader is very low profile and did not have an adverse effect on the walleye bite; they didn’t seem to notice it was there at all. While on the other hand, I have not been bit off since! A plus all the way around! Whether you fish for bullheads or musky, it is great just to get out and enjoy a little of what nature has to offer. So between rainy days, get out, have some fun, be safe, and don’t forget your smile!