Musky the fish of a thousands casts. Also known as a vicious, toothy, kitten eaten demon fish that rises from the depths. When given the opportunity to chase these guys down in Roanoke, VA with 5 other fly girls how could I say no? Sure I’ve gotten used to using my fingers for day to day activities but with the breakthroughs we’ve made in prosthetics in the recent years the thought of landing a musky was all to enticing.
I woke up bright and early and set out on the 12 hour drive with someone many of you may know, Ben Duchesney Postfly’s resident marketing champion. 12 hours was a small price to pay for the prize I had my eye on. Before I knew it we were 6 hours into the drive when I woke up from a nap to find Ben napping next to me as well.
When I asked him what he was doing he reassured me it was only a cat nap–from then on out I knew I wasn’t going back to sleep. We made it to VA and were welcomed by the two trip hosts Katie Blizzard and Abbi Bagwell aka #somestreamerchick. We kicked off night one with a couple of cold brews and a screening IFTD4 to get the blood pumping.
After drooling over billfish caught on the fly and gorgeous trout we were given the opportunity to tie flies with the world renowned musky fly tier Brian Bergeson. Seeing the concentration and natural talent of this man tie was nothing short of mesmerizing. The time and thought put into each feather selection was proof enough that this guy knew his stuff. After watching a few flies turn from idea to full fledged musky treats everyone went to bed ready to wake up at at 6am to hit the water.
Ken Trail from Rock On Charters would be guiding my partner in crime Shebia (Brittany Phillips) and myself that day and this man knew the New River better than most people know their own social security number. After casting, casting, casting, casting, and more casting we began to realize why musky had the reputation they did. While floating down the river taking in the beautiful scenery, fall foliage, and the occasional train passing by we finally had a stroke of luck. A FOLLOW.
Yelling, “MUSKY, MUSKY, MUSKY,” we watched one of these dinosaurs come up from the river bottom to nip at the lure 3 separate times missing it every one. When it left there we were shaking our heads wondering how a fish that hits a lure 3 times without taking it survives in the wild. This fish was either missing a few brains cells or just looking to see the disappointment in our eyes upon it’s decent. I thought these fish were vicious hunters? This one would have been picked last in gym class every time I guarantee it.
We finished the day with no trophy pictures and headed back ready to hear everyone else’s stories. The camaraderie and energy between the women on this trip was amazing. We hadn’t know each more for more than 24 hours and already it felt like we’d been friends for years coming together again on some annual fishing trip. We settled in to share the events of the day finding out that between guests, hosts, and 10 rods in the water only one fish had been brought to the net by Katie. After some food, beers, fly tying and laughter we retreated to our rooms to catch some much needed sleep and to prepare for round two.
Day two commenced and we all had our game faces on. We made a last minute decision to drive an hour to the James River where our guides felt more confident of finding fish that would be willing to eat. We started the day and within 10 minutes and only 200 feet from the boat ramp had a follow. Booooom right off the bat this set the tone for what would be a great day.
After hours and hours of casting, a few more follows and a riverside lunch the sun had set and we were rowing back in the dark. By this time our guide Ken was feening for us to catch a musky. He made it clear his main priority was to make this happen and he would do everything in his power to do so. With his mission in mind he tied on a topwater whopper bait and instructed Shebia and myself to throw this gear bait and make as much noise as possible.
Plop,plop,plop,plop,splash and the next thing I knew Shebia is screaming at the top of her lungs while Ken is yelling BRING IT IN and I’m trying to get some light on the fish!!! Ken went for the net that had somehow become tangled in a mess of flies and tackle with all the commotion.
With no time to devise a safe plan he knew he needed to get the fish in the boat for Shebia ASAP so he stuck his hand in the water and went for the gill plate. Mind you he had showed us his battle scars about 3 hours ago from his past rendezvous with musky and they weren’t pretty. This man was committed. Like superman Ken wrestled the fish safely into the boat and was able to put her in Serbia’s arms for the perfect hero photo.
You could just see the sheer surprise, amazement, disbelief, gratefulness, and a little bit of fear radiating off her. No only did she catch her first musky after two straight days of grinding she did it on a topwater whopper about 50 feet from the boat ramp. This was a bottom of the 9th victory (much late that of the Chicago Cubs this season).
After a few quick pics taken by photographer Austin Green the fish was released safely back to it’s home. Fueled by pure adrenalin we made our way back to the cabin for the last night festivities that consisted of a well earned beer and smoked ribs. Great food, great people, great fishing what more can you ask for.
There will be another Lady’s Musky Meet Up in February 2017. If you’re interested in catching dinosaurs on the fly contact South Valley Anglers guide Josh Laferty at (540) 613-0850 or email Katie Blizzard at [email protected]
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