One of my muskie-bum buds is on the lake every waking minute—while managing family and work in the down time. It’s an addiction that only a muskie fanatic could understand.
My friend keeps detailed records of every catch including date, time of day, location, water condition and weather—not to mention a deep archive of photos of nearly every fish. This allows him to dial into a pattern, which is one of the toughest aspects of successful muskie fishing.
Recently, October 20 to be exact, I netted a fat 47 incher for him while he had his young 3-year-old son with him, which by the way was worth its weight in gold. The smile on the young would-be angler’s face was awesome, and a fine reminder of why we pursue our fishing passions.
After the day ended, he texted me a collage of photos that proved how valuable quality fish-handling skills and catch and release are to any fishery, especially muskies. He caught the exact same fish last year on October 22. In almost the exact same spot, no less. The fish was a bit thinner last year, but they are especially fat this year for some reason, and the length was the same.
Of course, being the muskie geek he is, he thought deeper. Come to find out, a mutual friend also caught the exact same fish in September of this year, just 100 yards from where it had been caught later in October.
How can you tell a certain fish from another? Well, look at the photos to follow and I think you’ll be convinced.
Catch, Photo, Release. It works.
Ryan and his son with “Dotty” on October 22, 2014. Note the two freckles. (These are unique spots to every muskie—no two the same.)
Ryan on the exact same spot one year earlier. Again, note the two freckles.
Here is another picture of the 47 incher Ryan caught with his son, note the split dorsal fin.
Here is Ryan’s fellow muskie bum with the exact same fish from September of this year. Again, note the split dorsal fin.
Interestingly, the fish's length remained the same, 47 inches across the 1-year span. But the girth on the latest catch was the largest over the three catches.
Are you a believer now?