Back in September we heard about the Ladies Musky Meetup and decided that we wanted to get behind it. Getting more women into fly fishing and chasing down the meanest dinosaur in all of fly fishing? Let’s get some more of that. While our Outdoor Community Manager Erin Foley was at the event (read about her trip here), I was staying in a cabin just down the road with Flymen Fishing Company’s Caleb Welborn, trying our damnedest to catch a musky for ourselves.
Spoiler alert: “Musky are assholes.”
My fingers are still cut up, my forearms are sore, my shoulders tight, and I even have a big bruise from where the rod butt of a 12wt rod was pressing against for more leverage against giant 12-inch+ flies on every cast. I still feel like I haven’t even caught up on sleep since the trip, starting to fish every day before the sun rose and staying on the water until after the sun set. I’m beat.
Since the Ladies Musky Meetup was an all women event (duh), Caleb and I weren’t invited to join, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t find a way to get down there and hit the water in search of esox. What are we, crazy? There was even talk of getting wigs and sneaking on the trip, if we couldn’t find someone to take us out. Luckily, Jason Shull of Rock On Charters was able to take us out on his raft and get us into some fish. Wait, you’re surprised we got on fish? C’mon, who do you think we are.
Of course we got into some fish. We didn’t land anything, sure, and the musky I had on was only connected to my line for all of two seconds, but hey, we got into fish. After nearly seven hours of endlessly casting giant flies for seemingly non-existent fish, I finally saw a big splash and turn of a fish swatting at my presentation. I felt the weight, set the hook, two heads shakes and just as quickly as it happened, that was it. She was gone.
Hands shaking, the hair on the back of my neck raises and despite my multiple layers, I’m sweating and freezing at the same time. Crushed in confusion, despair, desperation and just smidgin of hope. Sure, I’d see more fish after having one musky on that first evening, but that’ll be the last time I have a fish that size on the hook. Now I need to go back.
The 13-hour drive was mildly soul-crushing, despite podcast after podcast playing on the speakers and the steady diet of gas station food for the whole weekend had me nearly delirious, but I’m thinking clearly. I need to go back down to the Blue Mountains and chase these gorgeous, terrifying fish. Sure, they’ll completely beat you up and make you question why you even fly fish in the first place, but that’s the point. No other fish will challenge you like that and still have you coming back for more.
The Ladies Musky Meetup was a success because it showed other anglers why these fish are so damn cool. Sure, I wasn’t able to go to the event myself, but Caleb and I had our own Musky Meetup. Stay tuned for more content coming out from the trip over the next few weeks.
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