Muskie breaks his rod, but not his will to pull it | Outside

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DARYL BAUER Nebraska Game and Parks Commission

It was a long time ago, but I still see it clearly. We were fishing with Grandpa Roth in a gravel pit just off the Elkhorn River.

After an hour or two of fishing, we spotted something hunting minnows along the north shore. Grandpa decided he should go there, so I followed.

I was seining a bobber and a minnow from the river. We snuck up to where we had seen the feeding activity and I threw my bobber right on the spot. We didn’t wait long, the bobber shuddered and then jumped under. Anticipation filled the air. I waited a second, then Grandpa gave me the advice I’ve never forgotten: “I’ll gouge out his eyes!”

I had no idea what eye teeth were, and even with a few degrees of fishing on the wall, I’m still not sure if the fish even have them. But I knew what Gramps meant. I put the hook with all my might. It ended up being a largemouth bass, but I’ve tried following Gramps’ advice on every set of hooks since that day.

Fast forward to a more recent fishing trip. My son and I are looking for muskellunge, just reminiscing about losing a 40 inch muskellunge in the past two years.

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My son and I had separated to cover part of the shore.

I did a casting and about a third of the way to my recovery I felt that “hit” that I love. When you have the right presentation, fish believe they are eating prey and gobble it up. All you feel is a hit. If you look at your line properly, you will see it jump.

I was in position; feet shoulder-width apart, shoulders square, both hands on the rod, and the rod in position to set the hook. That’s what I did. I put the hook – strong. If I could do anything about it, another muskie wasn’t just going to shake my hooks out of his mouth.

When I put the hook on, my rod snapped in half just above the front handle. It sounded like a gunshot. My son heard it a few hundred yards away.

I looked down. I hold a few feet of the butt section of a sturdy rod with a reel attached. The remaining 7 or so feet of rod slide along my line in the water. What I was holding wasn’t worth anything, so I threw it aside.

I grabbed the line in a panic. Finally, I got a muskellunge to eat my bait, and now it was going to disappear because my rod broke.

I started to pull the rope hand on hand, it got tighter, and then it went offshore! The fish was still on. I have a pretty cool muskellunge hooked up and had to put it down by hand.

Yeah. That’s what I did. Had an assist on the net, but fought the fish hand over hand without incident, brought it in, put it in the net. She was 41 inches tall. Thank goodness she was hanging on well.

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