The tale begins on an enchanted Facebook group called Musky Fly Fishing, when some Michigan boys ask for some help on planning a trip to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. I messaged them and gave them plenty of information to help narrow their search to one area that had two different rivers. One river was a numbers game where it was reported that electroshocking turned up 5 musky/hour, the other river being the quest for a donkey of unfathomable proportions.
A few weeks later the four gents and their Mystic Rods made the 8-hour trek to the Mountain State and drove through a bad snow storm to do so. They got settled into their weekend home that would be for dining, drinking, and tying meat for the following days. They told me to come for the time but unfortunately, I had work the next day and no PTO to take.
Day one the men jumped in their drift boats and motored up stream for numbers. Unfortunately, the bitter cold front that had come through the day before resulted in ice creeping into the river from the bank and very lethargic musky that decided to not show themselves on this day. Overall, they had a great time practicing casting, figure 8’s, and rowing the drift boats while having some drinks and puffing on cigars.
Day two, we decided to meet at the river of monsters and begin on our quest for donkeys. Since I was giving out all the information I had offered to guide and paddle the drift boat downstream, even though I had never stepped foot in such a craft, but they wouldn’t have that and insisted I fish in rotation with them. We launched our vessels and made our way downstream. The water was up and a dark emerald green, perfect color for musky on the fly. Expectations were not high as we made our way due to continual cold conditions.
We were about an hour into our float and I had just started my shift of fishing from the back of the boat. Through prior shifts I had snagged the bottom on several occasions and thought I had done so again, but it seemed to have come loose and I was able to lift it easily with my 9wt. But a few seconds later I see a giant mouth open and headshake, “HOLY F****** S***, FISH ON” shouted from my mouth. Both guys in the boat looked at the fish and frantically got the net ready for a behemoth that rolled boat side and dove into the depths a couple rounds before finding herself in the basket of the net.
I went silent and couldn’t fathom what just occurred, one held the net and the other rowed to shore so we could properly examine the beast in the net. There was shouting for the guys in the other boat to come see what resided in the net, expletives of joy, but I was still silent. We were almost to shore and I could see the bottom, the next thing I know I had jumped into the river and was waist deep in water and stuck in the mud. The other guys got the boats anchored and laughed at me stuck in the mud. I was shaking while awaiting to dip into the net and see what lied within.
Once the net was secured and everyone was ready, without a thought, I put both of my arms underneath the beast and laid her across my lap to support the absolute giant she was. Pictures were snapped and back in the net she went to have the hook removed and measurements taken. This occurred one more time for additional photos but instead of the net she was placed in the water and held until she was ready to go, the entire time she kept her eye on me as though we were permanently connected. She slowly swam off, waving good-bye, back into the depths until she could spawn.
High fives, hugs, hand-shakes, victory drinks and cigars soon followed. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, other than getting snowed, rained and sleeted on, all while my jacket was useless because I had become drenched in my overzealous leap from the boat and putting my arms in the water. We enjoyed stories, jokes, scenery, and drinks as we made our way to take out. I felt like an a**hat for being the guy to give them all the info, but catch a true trophy musky.
Day 3 was another day on the quest for monsters. But today I wanted to test the equipment the fellas had brought with them, being the Mystic Reaper in 10wt and 12wt Musky Editions. Whenever I was up to fish I would try one of the weight rods and spend the time with either a smaller fly or a larger fly to try and determine the feel. P.S. the rods are great with sinking lines and pretty much any fly you want to toss.
As the day went along we made it to a bend in the river where a wastewater treatment plant dumps its treated water and the temps were up, I had a good feeling about the spot. One of the guys was stripping in their fly when you see a log begin to move towards it, the pace quickens and into the figure 8 they go. After several passes the fish disappeared into the depths and the next boat experienced the same fate.
Another hour or so passes and we are working a bank and Bob had gone through most flies in his box and didn’t know what to toss and I told him to throw a cotton candy double deceiver, to which he replied, “I’ve never heard of anyone catching a musky on a cotton candy double deceiver.” Fast forward to literally 2 casts later and he thinks he is pinned to another log…. Wrong. Up jumps an upper-30’s ski with a head-shake, the fly comes loose and passes by his head. He looks at me and then we both laughed, “told you.” The rest of the was much like the second, it rained, sleeted, and snowed intermittently until we made it to the take out.
The fishing was fair, other than the new PB for me, but the experience was awesome. We all had a great time, made new friend(s), and made new memories. After this trip, I got in contact with Mystic and ordered myself a Reaper 10wt Musky rod, as well as a 5wt Inception. The Inception was become my workhorse rod for everything but musky. The Reaper is a staple in my musky quiver. I keep in touch with those Michigan boys and am hopefully can make a trip up that way either this coming winter or spring to do some fishing and possibly visit the Mystic Outdoors and play with all the goodies that lie within.