Fall Muskie Bonanza – By John Dettloff
Although the muskie action in 2001 had its normal ups and downs, as all muskie seasons have, overall… this past year was a great muskie year on the Chippewa Flowage. The season started out a little slow because of the cold early June nights, but once mid June set in we were into some good muskie action. Fred Hirsch started the season out with a fine 49″ catch that he took on a black Ghosttail on June 13th.
By the fourth of July the muskie activity really picked up and, during, the first half of the month, the muskie fishing was excellent with both lots of consistent action and a number of big ones caught. One resort reported ten muskies caught and released in a twenty-four hour period during that spree. That same day, out of a different resort, an angler named Rob Kelly caught and released a 49 incher on a bucktail.
During late July and early August, a hot, dry spell gave us some great weather for having summer fun… it had slowed up the muskie action. But once things cooled, by mid August, the muskies went on a steady six week feeding binge that was one of the finest big fish sprees that locals have seen in quite a while.
During that period, the action was consistent all through out the day, with both early evenings and late nights being productive as well. The muskies were on a shallow feed and were taken on the shallow feed bars, primarily on surface baits and bucktails. Many lunkers were taken at this time, with practically all of them being released… to be caught another day.
Brain Dutton, the son of longtime Flowage muskie fishermen Bruce Dutton, caught and released the biggest muskie of the year of the Chip (as of early October), a 52 incher that he took late in August; Brent Jagodzinski was witnessed catching and releasing a fine muskie on August 22nd, being reported in at 51 inches; Arleigh Berg caught and released his personal biggest muskie, a 50-1/2 inch fish around Labor Day; and, on September 11th, John Dettloff nailed a fine brute fish, which he released, that measured 48-1/2 inches and went well over 32 pounds. Two days later, it was reported, a muskie well over forty pounds was dealt with by two different anglers on the same spot… but it evaded capture both times.
Another huge muskie that was spotted in mid September was one in the 55 to 56 inch range which had followed up for one of Ray Blank’s clients. Although no monster muskies were heard of attacking eighteen-pound catfish this past season – as it had happened during the previous year – there was a fellow who had a nice northern on this summer, who had a huge muskie grab it as he was bringing it in. The muskie came off, but not before the frightened angler got a good look at the fish. For what it’s worth, the man said the muskie had to go over 50 to 60 pounds. Could the “catfish muskie” still be at large and roaming the waters of the Chippewa Flowage? Maybe.
Come up in 2002… and just maybe you’ll be the next angler to tie into this phantom fish. Perhaps Louie Splay had better be prepared to hand over his muskie crown this coming season!