Ahhhhhh Autumn is here. The leaves are turning color, the nights are getting cooler and the Muskies are fired up! Nothing quite as enjoyable as taking the `Yak out on a nice, crisp, cloudy Fall day and having a go at the “fish of 10,000 casts.
And that was exactly my plan today.
The forecast called for a rather hot and balmy day this past Thursday, but the weather was suppose to drastically take a nose-dive on Friday night….. and it certainly did. Usually I generally shy away from wetting a line for a few days right after a cold-front moves in, but this time of year, I take advantage of any window of opportunity when I can to fish. Simply because it`s the middle of October and there are only a matter of several weeks before it`s time to pack the `Yak away for the year.
So I loaded up my gear and headed out to Mountain Lake around 1pm eager to try my new “Believer” lure that my friend Pat Gallagher introduced me to the previous week.
As I drove around the lake, I noticed a familiar white SUV in the area I normally parked. As I pulled in the lot, I recognized my good friend Andrew Hunter Yutko with a few other guys loading up their kayaks. Two of the three I knew from Instagram as I follow their excursions. I asked, “So everyone`s leaving?” – Andrew said, “Yea we`ve been here since 6am, had a couple “follows” and these guys caught one”….We`re going to head over to Oxford” – I replied, “Ohhhh……ok. Hey!….that was a Muskie that just breached out there…did you see that?” – Andrew looks at his buddy and says, “Ahhhhhhh let`s stay here maybe Ken will be good luck!” – Then he introduced me to his friend Javier and we all started setting up to launch.
As I pushed off in the water, I took notice of the way the wind was blowing. My strategy is usually to paddle up-wind and drift back along spots that I want to target. Whereas Andrew has pedals in his kayaks so he can maneuver more readily in windy conditions.
I began working the outer edge of a weed-bed that had a drop-off with my Believer Lure. Andrew and Javier were about two hundred yards away working another edge of weeds. I retrieved the jointed lure slowly, working the drop-off, then finishing up with my version of a “figure 8” in a kayak. Making a clean “figure 8” is kind of tough especially when you can only sit in the `Yak. So my pattern was a combination between a “figure 8” and a sort of “U-sweep” which I did on almost every retrieve.
And I don`t think I was fishing even quite an hour…….then it happened.
As I retrieved my lure and started my “8” literally a foot from the `Yak, this magnificent Esox followed my lure! And as I made the “8” sweeping pattern BAM!!! Muskie on! The muskie struck so close the `Yak that I never even had to turn the handle on the reel! Quickly I grabbed the net and swooped up the beast of a fish! As I wrestled with the mighty Esox, I yelled to the guys, “I could use a little help please!” with that, they quickly jolted over to me. They quickly pinned me in with their kayaks for stability as I unhooked the beautiful Muskie. Up to that point, I had never ever caught a Muskie on the “Figure 8” and it was absolutely thrilling!
Andrew took a bunch of pictures and measured the Muskie, then I quickly released the 39.5 inch monster back into the murky depths.
While we fished for several hours thereafter, no more Muskies made it in the `Yaks. And that`s pretty much the norm when you`re after the “fish of 10,000 casts. But I have to admit, while I almost always fish by myself, but it sure was nice to have couple of extra hands out there today. And If it wasn`t for fishing, I would never have had the pleasure of calling Andrew and Javier…….just that. Good Friends.
My NJ Musky Fishing Adventure began at 4:50am, walked out my back door to an unbelievable howling wind this morning. I thought to myself, “The hell with this,….. I won`t be able to take the `Yak out in this today”……With that I went back to bed……. woke up again a 5:30am and “The hell with it, I`m goin` Musky fishing!”So I loaded up the `Yak in my truck and made my way to the lake. When I got there at 6:15am and stepped out of my truck, the wind immediately blew my hat off as if to say, “Better not try this today dummy!”……Now this was only my second time trying for Muskies and after a 24-hour YouTube “Musky Fishing” video watching crash-course marathon, I figured I`d have another go at it. Unsure of what I was getting into exactly. I used a 6`6″ rod/reel combo last time and didn`t really know how to do the “Figure 8s” especially in my `Yak. This time around, I opted to go with my 9foot Striper pole and a heavier Shimano reel spooled with 65lb Power PRO, as the 6`6″ pole didn`t seem to cast the Double Cowgirls as far as I wanted too. The question was would I be able to do the “Figure 8s” with a pole of this length in the `Yak, coupled with the crazy-ass wind and not take a bath in the lake today??……….Well ultimately I actually figured out how to do a solid “Figured 8” with this pole as I practiced right before I went out across the lake. But I also figured out how to do something different retrieval-wise……..and I can`t tell you guys on here how to do “Ken Beam`s Big Musky Retrieval Method”,…..ha! ha! (But I will tell you this, at my second stop at about 6:45am, I used this method that I came up with and lost a monster at the `Yak that had to go 45″ or better! Then an hour later I landed the 35 incher that you see here using my “method” again!)
I battled the wind as I paddled back to the dock with my prize Musky in the net. As I took a few pictures with my Musky, one guy couldn`t believe that I was even out on the lake in a kayak today. He said the wind was a nightmare for his 14-ft boat and couldn`t fathom fishing out of a kayak out there today.Then the other guy asked if I fished for these regularly and I explained how this was only my second time ever going after them. He said he couldn`t believe it because he had put in over 100 hours to date and still hadn`t caught his first Musky!
As I walked up to get my truck the third guy responded and said, “Hey that`s pretty much the normal gig…… you have to put in a lot of hours to land a Musky. What you did wasn`t really the “norm” Ken”
Well…..normal or not, it was certainly quite the fight in my `Yak!