It was with great anticipation that I drove north to fish Lake of the Woods earlier this week. The best trips I've head for muskies have occurred in the Canadian waters of this vast, million-acre lake laced with reefs, islands, and humps, every one of which looks like a likely lair for a giant.
Moreover, I was set to fish with Dave Bennett, a young pro fisherman and guide on that waterway, who had just won the Kenora Bass Invitational, a big 3-day competition there. Dave is a true outdoorsman, having grown up in Sioux Narrows and now living closer to Kenora. He guides full-time, year-round, hunting and fishing for everything that swims or walks, and is legal for capture.
Our first evening, we persisted into the dark hours and Dave was rewarded with a hefty 46-incher that slammed his Muskie Mayhem Super Girl (chartreuse and black) as light waned. Casting these giant spinners on long heavy rods is a far cry from even the powerfishing for largemouth bass I'd been doing lately. Firing them out over massive reefs is work, but as you watch the mesmerizing blades turn and cause the giant skirts to pulsate, you can't help but feel a big fish is behind the next boulder.
But the fish proved reticent. I boated a small muskie the next day on a big Blue Fox spinner, along with a nice pike, and we had several follows and 3 fish that struck at the lures, but somehow evaded the hooks.
Dave took us to fantastic areas all across the northern half of Lake of the Woods, supplying tales of giant fish he'd caught here and there over the years. With few other boats about, we couldn't blame fishing pressure for the clearly finicky attitude of our target species. But as we reminded ourselves, that's part of muskie fishing. That's what keeps you coming back. The more you think you know about them, the more they put you to shame. Time on the water pays dividends, though there's no discounting occasional luck when you pursue these unpredictable beasts. I will be back!