This episode of the Fish’n Canada Show commemorates a once-in-a-lifetime muskie fishing experience, the likes of which hosts Angelo Viola and Pete Bowman have never seen before and aren’t likely to ever replicate.
“We’ll never match that again,” says Pete. “Ever.”
Angelo is quick to agree. “Nope.”
What makes this episode all the more remarkable is that it was completely unplanned; the entire shoot was the product of an impromptu decision. Angelo and Pete were in the Cornwall region recording an episode about the recent Canada Carp Cup, a tournament established to showcase the area’s incredible Carp fishery. When local fishing guide (and longtime friend) Ryan Flaro got word that the Fish’n Canada hosts were in the area, he immediately reached out to them. The guys, he said, absolutely had to experience the muskie fishing on nearby Lake Saint Francis while they were so close by.
Could they afford to take time away from their Carp shoot to indulge in some unscheduled muskie fishing? After all, it can take days to catch just one of these elusive fish—what if this turned out to be a waste of a day?
Ryan refused to take no for an answer. “I guarantee you we get a muskie in five minutes.”
“Five minutes?!” The guys couldn’t help but laugh at this preposterous claim. But there was something intriguing about Ryan’s unwavering confidence. Angelo and Pete finally relented—going against their better judgment—and agreed to join Ryan (armed only with the Bass gear they happened to already have stored on FNC1) for a single day of fishing for Saint Francis Muskellunge.
It was a last-minute decision that led to one of their most triumphant days on the water, and what will surely go down as one of the most extraordinary episodes of Fish’n Canada in the show’s decades-long history.
THE MUSKIE RIVER TO END ALL MUSKIE RIVERS
The first place most anglers think about when they think of St. Lawrence muskie are the headwaters commencing from Lake Ontario and flowing east through the Thousand Islands and beyond. However, that is just a small portion of this lengthy river. Let it be known that there are countless muskies downstream and well beyond these headwaters.
This episode took place on Lake St. Francis, a lake formed years ago by damming the St. Lawrence at Cornwall, Ontario and Valleyfield, Quebec. This water body is full of big Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass, Walleye, and, of course, the almighty Muskellunge.
Ang and Pete have been fishing the Berkley B1 bass tournament on this water for years and have encountered some big fish from all the aforementioned species—but they have only really tried for smallies.
Ryan Flaro had been bugging Ang and Pete to come up and shoot a muskie show for years. Time was always an issue, though, since a muskie show can take the better part of a week to shoot. This is the so-called ‘Fish of 10,000 Casts’, after all.
As luck would have it, the boys hadn’t even finished their first drift before being turned into believers. Ryan was shouting out instructions from his own boat nearby. “You’re coming up to the fish zone guys!” It was only moments later when Ang set his hook into a fish so gargantuan, he was almost certain he’d snagged bottom. This can’t be a fish, he thought. It has to be a log or something.
It wasn’t until the beast suddenly sprang into action and leapt from the water, revealing its mammoth dimensions as it soared through the air, that an awestruck Angelo was finally convinced he had a “Fish on!”
ANGELO’S BIGGEST MUSKIE EVER
After a long, nerve-wracking battle, Angelo finally guided the muskie—his biggest muskie ever—into the net. “That is ridiculous, the size of that fish,” said Pete as he struggled to hold the weight of the net and the writhing beast within.
Though neither angler wanted to risk keeping this beauty out of the water long enough to get an official measurement, they both estimated it to be around 55 inches. And as for the weight? Angelo could barely hoist the muskie long enough to take a picture. In addition to its staggering size and weight, this freakishly-sized muskie also had some of the best markings the boys had ever seen.
Well that’s a wrap, right? Despite being only a couple minutes into this impromptu muskie-fishing day trip, there’s no way this beast could be topped, right?
Not so quick, folks…
PETE’S BIGGEST MUSKIE EVER
Two drifts later, on a second location of ‘Franny’ (the endearing nickname given by locals to Lake St. Francis), Ryan piped up with another prediction. “Should be any time boys,” he called out. And mere seconds later, Pete set into a second behemoth St. Lawrence muskie. It was another fish well over the 55-inch mark and another extremely girthy beast.
That’s over 110 inches of muskie in just two fish.
Is Ryan Flaro the ultimate fishing guide or what? To the Fish’n Canada hosts, Ryan’s guiding prowess borders on psychic superpower; every call he made was a bonafide home run.
“You know what?” says Pete “He’s comical, he’s confident, he’s cocky, but he backs it all up!”
“And if there’s any better out there,” continues Ang, “we’ve yet to meet them.”
The guys agree: They have never heard of such a feat in the world of muskie television—something they are very proud of.