Common Ground

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Sam Ubl
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Common Ground

Unread postby Sam Ubl » Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:18 am

Sorry to post here - can't figure out how to post articles.

Common Ground
Written By: Sam Ubl

“Terry Redlin couldn’t have painted a better sunrise.” I thought to myself looking through the frame I had made with my hands. Most fishermen have a sixth sense initiated by some tell-tale sign, and this morning seemed to align with all things positive. I turned the key and eased the throttle – the fumes of the outboard streaming past me. I drew a deep breath and glanced back to catch a glimpse of the trailing wake before letting her rip. The water was still and the ride smooth as I made my way to a spot I had big blow-up on the surface the night before.

As I eased into position I looked down in time to see a school of white tails waving goodbye as a number of walleye cruised along the deep edge of the giant cabbage patch. “Too cool!” I thought, before firing a long bomb over the salad below.

“Blurp – plop, blurp-plop” My Weagle spoke to me as I walked it in.

Two casts would be enough to arouse the Queen of this layer as a big swirl boiled behind the lure, followed by another, and yet another before I ran out of room. Round two landed itself in my memory bank as the third twitch was the charm. The line cut the water as the big girl made a power run parallel to the boat - debris from the cover below emerging from her path. Seconds later she was in the bag and I was scrambling to get the hooks out before she could roll up in the net.

It was then that I found myself kneeling over the keel admiring her, replaying the events that had just played out. I thought about how hard I work and how long it takes to actually catch these fish, yet I’m always in such a hurry to release them. Such a fine respect we musky hunters have for our quarry. We pay top dollar for our equipment and we sacrifice so much time and effort for the cure to our ailment, and yet, when we finally connect with the fish of the so-called 10,000 casts, we rush to put them back much faster then they came.

It’s not uncommon to be asked why we do it – why fish for something you have to let go? I usually respond with a, “How much time do you have?” It’s a pleasure to answer as it serves as a reminder to ourselves of what it truly is that keeps us out for hours at a time without so much as seeing a fish. All fisherman share a common bond, but I believe musky fisherman are unique in that the bond we share is beyond “common”. As a musky hunter, we are the select few that will trade action for the hunt of a trophy. Musky fishing isn’t about catching, it never was and it never will be.

I was born into a family who celebrates the traditions of the outdoors throughout the wetness of spring, the heat of summer, the dryness of fall and the chill of winter. Show me water and I would find a way to catch a fish, it didn’t matter the specie. As a young boy I fished carp in city ponds, pulled all-nighters for sturgeon on the Wisconsin River, gut-drifted for Bluegill, split lily pads chasing Bass, threw Johnson Silver Minnows for Pike, explored small rivers for big Cats and patiently jigged for walleye on lakes in the Northwoods.

We were always in the backyard practicing casting if we weren’t on the water, my Dad and I. I started with a pushbutton, and eventually learned the spinning reel, but using a baitcaster was like the induction into manhood. Not until I was able to land the yellow practice casting weight in the laundry basket Dad had placed 25 yards out in the backyard would he consider taking me musky fishing. There was another plus to landing the perfect cast – inside the basket was always a reward: $0.25 with the push button, $0.50 with the spinning reel and $1.00 for ever cast landed with the baitcaster.

I would ask for his help with the backlashes, and sure he would lend a hand once in a while, but he had a real knack for disappearing in those instances. I would sit down and work on the mess until I had it cleaned up and eventually learned the science behind picking a rats-nest in record time. I assumed he pulled the disappearing act because he didn’t want to deal with the frustration those tangles cause, but now I understand it was all part of the lesson. Dad taught me patience, on the field and over water, but he did so in a way that allowed me to find my own value in the trait.

I’ve caught literally thousands of bass and walleye in my 20 plus years fishing, but there are few that stand out amongst the many as I look back. The ones I do remember may not hold value made up entirely by size, but some sort of significance such as an oddity, surprise or by my surroundings when I caught the fish. Ever notice that a fisherman who has captured at least one musky in his/her time, yet has seldom, if ever, targeted the specie can recapture the moment and all the details if prompted? Chances are they carry a picture of that fish in their wallet, on their phone or at least have it highlighted in an album at home.

Landing a musky is a rewarding accomplishment to anyone, but for the serious musky fisherman, the real reward is in the hunt. My wife, although she has many muskies to her credit and cherishes her time on the water, reminds me that “you can’t make soup with a follow”, when I come home bragging of the one I saw. While she makes light of my excitement at times, it’s never a surprise when she earns the same bragging rights and exercises them – forgetting that she, too, will have trouble making soup with her follow.

Ah, yes, time flies when you’re having fun – the world would turn a lot slower without our precious resource. If you haven’t found pleasure in being weak in the knees, than you haven’t been musky fishing. Beware, once you start, you cannot stop. It is a hobby, it is an addiction, and it’s a genuine love for a passion.

*WARNING – Engaging in the hunt may cause severe trembling, slurred speech and sleep loss. Please practice CPR.

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