The Muskellunge: the fish of 10,000 casts. For this Fish’n Canada episode, Pete Bowman is on the Ottawa River for a long overdue reunion trip with muskie guide extraordinaire John Anderson of Ottawa River Muskie Factory. He’s a man who knows this water intimately!
Pete’s confidence booster for this trip was that John, along with a very dedicated group of friends, has spent a lifetime studying this magnificent, elusive, daunting beast.
One of those friends is Peter Levick, president of Muskies Canada Inc. In an interview for this episode, Peter states just how good the Ottawa River is as a muskie fishery, ranking it high within the Top 10 in Canada, and maybe even the world. He noted just how lucky we Canadians are to have naturally reproducing Muskellunge—a luxury that not all muskie areas have.
The boys’ first morning on the water was a great time for John and Pete to catch up on their last ten years of fish stories. But after hours of reminiscing, they had yet to see a fish! To add insult to injury, John’s guest the previous day had over a dozen fish encounters. This is very typical of the moody muskie; they go berserk one day, and for the following day (or two or three or more) they’re nowhere to be found. “One giant fish and we still win, baby,” says John at the end of the morning, still hopeful.
Towards the afternoon and evening of day one, Pete had a gorgeous big fish follow his bait all the way to the boat. The fish grabbed the double bucktail, but shook its big head and freed itself from the hook. “That right there was a possible fish of a lifetime,” said Pete. That is also very typical of muskie fishing: going all day long just for one crazy encounter. Two more days to go.
In typical John Anderson fashion, he startles the crew by declaring, “Muskies suck! We quit and we’re going home!” With that, day one came to a dramatic close.
Onto the second day of this three-day muskie adventure on the Ottawa River. That was a great shot at a big Figure 8 fish on day one but, unfortunately, she came unbuttoned. Had we put her in the boat, that long fishless day would have ended in epic fashion. In John’s opinion, we didn’t do anything wrong the previous day, so today’s fishing strategy will be very much the same. It’s going to come down to the attitude of the muskie.
The morning of day two was pretty much a mirror image of the previous morning. Lots of enthusiasm, but no fish sightings or hook-ups. The beauty of a great muskie fishery like the Ottawa River, however, is that there is so much water to investigate and every new location brings high hopes!
John says, “If you have a friend with a big ego, turn them on to muskie fishing. That’ll fix em.” This guy is hilarious!
Finally, the boys put a couple of muskie in the net. First was a little feller that jumped like a lunatic. And at the end of the day, there was a gorgeous low 40s fish that hit boatside on a Figure 8; that kept the blood flowing, giving the guys even higher hopes for the day to come. It was a definite sigh of relief.
Another long, fishless morning and afternoon grounded the boys and let them know that the muskie was boss on this trip. With only a couple of hours of daylight remaining, however, Pete set the hook into a giant thrasher that almost gave the boys a double heart attack when it leapt from the water right beside the boat. Soon after this spectacular jump, John scooped the beast into his gigantic muskie net.
Wow, what a nail-biter. The team could not have scripted this trip any better for a TV show. Throwing literally thousands of casts; seeing some fish; losing some fish; even catching some fish; and then finally, big mama smashes a “Johnny A” double 10, tinsel blade. Three grueling days ending in bittersweet victory!
If you are looking for the ultimate Muskie river battle, give John Anderson a call or check out his website. He’s always come through for us!