A Muskie too Short

by | Oct 1, 2022 | Hayward Muskie Tournament

Grindstone-LakeTom Smedley and I arrived at the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) boat ramp around 7:20 AM in order to be casting in the 44th Annual Hayward Muskie Tournament by the 8 o’clock starting time.  But we wouldn’t have made it.  There were numerous boats already in line to launch.  Enough we’d have been waiting 45 minutes for our turn.  Tom and I weren’t into it.  Especially with so many other competition lakes nearby.  We circled the lot and moments later found ourselves shooting across a nearly vacant Grindstone Lake on the way to one of Smedley’s muskie haunts.


Tom-SmedleyIt seemed weird to me – tons of boats at LCO but hardly any on Grindstone.  But Tom assured me, Grindstone has muskies and he knew where they were.  Furthermore, Tom also pulled out his cell and called one of his friends who fishes this lake often.  I could hear through the call, Tom’s friend said we had plenty of muskies to fish for.


Grindstone-LakeThe weather was ominous.  It was strange because the forecast was for warm and mostly sunny.  Instead, right after sunrise the skies filled with low drifting clouds and Grindstone turned to glass.  Soon after, a light rain started that would stick with us for most of the day.  And it wasn’t warm, it was flat out raw.


pikeWe fished a few weed bed areas Tom knew of.  I had a pair of tiny muskies follow my fly to the boat.  Despite being babies, they gave me confidence.  We moved around a bunch the first couple hours trying Smedley’s spots and then his friends.  There were a couple other boats around but most of them were chasing walleye.  Fishing appeared slow for everyone but finally we broke through.  I missed a strike on my big fly then Tom found a greedy 29” pike that ate his 10” long lure.


flyfishingWe hoped the pike was a break through for us but fishing continued to be brutally slow.  So slow, I was pacing myself, something I have never learned to do in anything.   I tried stripping slower.  Then faster.  I changed flies a bunch.  But the only thing I hooked up on was a 45lb cluster of weeds.


musky-fishingAt about 1 PM it happened.  Tom shrieked and then I heard the line tension and a splash.  “Get the net!”, he shouted.


I had the gigantic net in the water within seconds and Tom brought his thrashing fish to boatside.  It was indeed a muskie and the fish was beautiful.  The problem however, this muskellunge wasn’t long enough.  Toms shiny-greenish-barred fish was 30”.  Scorable muskies must be 34” to qualify.  I popped a couple pics and back to the water he went.


Hayward-MuskiesThat fish would be all she wrote.  We fished right until 6 PM.  The rain never stopped until around 5.  A stiff breeze kicked in much earlier than that and changed direction several times.  It was the weather where you expected fish to turn on and eat everything in sight.  But no luck.  Instead we bore the cold conditions.


muskies-incWe just returned from the Saturday night Muskie Banquet.  They raffled off some prizes and served us hors d’oeuvres and beer.  It was a fun time.  Muskies Inc Chapter is much like a Trout Unlimited get together.  A different type of crowd but fun stuff for all the right reasons.  Back on the water first thing tomorrow!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


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I started fly fishing at age 7 in the lakes and ponds of New England cutting my teeth on various sunfish, bass, crappie and stocked trout. I went to Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin, where I graduated with a Naturalist Degree while I discovered new fishing opportunities for pike, muskellunge, walleyes and various salmonids found in Lake Superior and its tributaries.

From there I headed west to work a few years in the Yellowstone region to simply work as much as most people fish and fish as much as most people work. I did just that, only it lasted over 20 years working at the Jack Dennis Fly Shop in Jackson, WY where I departed in 2009. Now it’s time to work for "The Man", working for myself that is.

I pursue my love to paint fish, lecture on every aspect of fly fishing you can imagine and host a few trips to some of the most exotic places you can think of. My ultimate goal is to catch as many species of fish on fly possible from freshwater to saltwater, throughout the world. I presently have taken over 440 species from over 60 countries!