Huge Scary Fish Cause Weak Knees

by | Jul 21, 2023 | fly fishing Wisconsin | 3 comments

fly-fishingWe’ve barely had temperatures above the mid 70°s for almost two weeks.  There’s been a few solid thunderstorms and rain mixed in this timeframe too.  Both the cool down and moisture were well needed because from about Memorial Day till the 4th of July it had been very warm and dry.  My Hayward neighbor can’t remember it being this dry in northern Wisconsin.  Conditions were starting to remind me of many summers in Idaho.


fish-artBut the welcome cold front appears to be ending and today we seem to be heading back to normal northern WI weather.  The ten day forecast predicts some very hot temperatures for next week along with more thunderstorms to keep us from getting too dry.  Today, although we didn’t see any rain, the thermometer touched 78°.  A perfect day for a smallmouth bass float with friends and a few Leinenkugel’s to quench the thirst along the way.


flyfishingI fished with Bob and Howie.  You may remember Howie and I had big plans to fish all the time even before Granny and I made the WI move.  Unfortunately it’s been the opposite. We’ve hardly fished together at all.  Luckily today, Howie was able to make it.


bass-fliesFor Bob and I it was a new section of river.  Howie floated here about a month ago and they caught numerous smallies, pike and one small musky.  Howie threw a musky fly all day while Bob and I mostly smallmouth fished.


smalliesWe pushed off at sunrise.  We always get an early start.  Bob was upfront with a fly a bit small for musky yet big for most smallies.  I say most.  I must be wrong on that because Bob picked up numerous smallies during the first light of the day.




Fishing got slow after the smallmouth bass run.  We went a couple hours with only the random smallie bite.  Then, out of the blue, Howie spit out the words in a whisper, “Musky.  Musky following my fly”.


It was obvious Howie didn’t want to get so excited as to spook the interested fish but you could also tell he was getting weak knees.  I turned just in time to see why.  This was a big musky!


The lengthy and heavy-weight fish, I’d say in the low 40’s inches range, came into my sights just as Howie’s fly neared the boat.  At the exact second, I saw the musky open his mouth with the gills flared.  Due to the excitement, we aren’t sure what happened but Howie’s huge Bill Sherer fly didn’t disappear in a wall of teeth like you dream.  Instead the fly remained in sight and the fish swam away.


We’re all pretty new to this musky stuff.  Of the three of us I probably have the most musky on fly experience and I’m not very good.  The only thing I suggested to Howie was number one, if a musky follows to the boat and you don’t get him, keep the fly in the water and do a figure-8.  A figure-8 is a standard in musky fishing and not only that, it needs to be done properly which is with big wide turns.  Two weeks ago one of my experienced musky fishing neighbors told me he hooks more than half the musky he catches during the figure-8.


Howie-fly-fishingHowie felt bad but his day will come and it will be more special.  I’ve been down the same road of close calls with fish of a lifetime so many times I can’t count them.  You can’t look back.  You can’t waste brain cells thinking about it.  You get your fly back in the water and keep fishing your butt off.


Matt-nortonWhile we never saw another happy musky, we did hammer away on the smallies.  Just as fast as they turned off early morning, they turned back on mid-day.  Bob went on an absolute escapade catching about five in back to back casts.  Most were unusually small but our biggest was one pushing 14”.  Howie kept on his musky fly and they also ate that.


dragon-flyThere was one highlight too.  It’s what this dragon fly is doing.  If you look closely he’s a monster species.  And in his mouth getting devoured is a smaller species.  Pretty gory but cool too!


I’ll wrap it up.  It was a great day on an absolute gorgeous stretch of Wisconsin water.  It was super to get out with the fellas.   And boy did those icy cold Leiny’s taste freaking delicious!


Jeff Currier Global Fly Fishing


  1. mike

    I wonder if that isn’t a Dragonhunter dragonfly. They are huge compared to others and a sought after species to see. Kurt Mead, in his “Dragonflies of the North Woods”, says “the Dragonhunter is a legendary insect. It is on the ‘most wanted’ of many dragonfly enthusiasts. I have witnessed its power through a seasoned German odanatist, his hands trembling as he held his first dragonhunter”. Knees weak with a big musky, hands trembling with a notable dragonfly–I think we can all relate

  2. Jeff

    That is some cool stuff Mike. I will be going down the rabbit hole of dragons tonight for sure!

  3. Howie

    I have been woken up the past several nights strip setting and doing big figure eights! I still see that fish’s eyes smiling at me.

    That was the biggest dragonfly i have seen. Great info from Mike! So cool.

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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!