I started fishing when I was nine years old on southern Ontario’s Moira River, and quickly became enthralled with anything angling related. What grabbed my attention more than anything else were the mounts of gargantuan muskies hanging in the sporting goods stores, gas stations, barbershops and anywhere else men were likely to gather. Those fish were so big that many were head mounted, just like trophy deer. That was more affordable than a full-body mount, I suppose, and with their toothy mouths agape, the fish looked especially menacing to a youngster like me.
So, while I continued to dangle my bobber and worm over the local docks for panfish, I vowed that one day I would fight and land a giant muskie of my very own. Life has a way of making a bird’s nest of your plans, however, and our family moved west before my dream could be realized. Over the ensuing years, I thought about muskies often, but the opportunity to fish for them never came along. Then one October morning two years ago, I was sitting with buddies Dave Kay and Brian Hagglund in my jon boat over a spread of hand-carved blocks, waiting for the next flight of bluebills. Dave’s become adept at catching muskies, and soon enough the conversation came around to the fish of 10,000 casts, rejuvenating my desire to catch one.
Then Dave mentioned his plans to again return to the same lake in northwestern Ontario he’s been visiting for 13 years to hunt muskies for two to three weeks at a time. I could have been coy about it all and subtly intimate I’d love to join him for a couple of days, but I figured there’s little sense in being shy around friends, so I simply invited myself to tag along for a few days. And Brian, figuring it wouldn’t be the same without him, announced he was also available to join in on the fun. So it was that Brian and I—sworn to secrecy about the name of the lake—joined Dave last August to experience first-hand what it’s like to hunt, hook and fight Canada’s freshwater apex predator. Here’s some of what I learned during our three days on the water with Dave.