The past three days may have been the most challenging and rewarding I’ve had in some time. Greg Kitchens from Utica, MS contacted me several weeks ago to reserve three days with hopes of landing a smallmouth, walleye, and musky. Even though our dates we scheduled didn’t exactly land on “prime times”, I felt confident we could help Greg achieve his goals with a little hard work. To say we’d work for it was an understatement!!!
Day one of our quest began on Chequamegon Bay. Coming off a stellar performance the day before, I was confident we’d get Greg and his wife Cynthia into some good smallies. A very light wind had definitely slowed the bite, but we were able to put some super fish up to 21″ in the boat including a nicely executed double. Sunny, warm, and calm conditions had water temps warming to 65 degrees, and all of our fish were caught on minnows in 12′ – 20′ of water. With several quality fish in the boat, I suggested that we should move on to walleyes. It’s always tough to leave biting fish, but we were on a mission with only three days to make it all happen. Greg agreed, and off to the St. Louis River we went. My previous outing two days prior had produced some outstanding fish, and I was confident we could put at least one eye in the boat which would give us two days to chase muskies. Well… We arrived to a flat calm sea, high skies, and soaring water temps into the low 80’s. It didn’t take me long to figure out this was a tough deal as we churned up as much water as possible trolling crankbaits in 5′ – 8′ of water. We landed one rogue crappie and lost another fish that was hooked up briefly. Otherwise, it was a lost cause. I should have known better… This wasn’t going to come easy!
Greg decided to focus on muskies for day #2. Of the 3 fish he wanted to catch, muskies were on the top of his list. He and Cynthia have traveled all over the world on various hunting and fishing expeditions, and the fish of 10,ooo casts has been on his bucket list. The weather dealt us another tough hand however as flat water and high skies dominated the day in the Hayward area. Water temps warmed to 75 degrees under a hot sun, and the fishing was slow. We threw topwaters, jerkbaits, and bucktails over weedbeds and along weedlines all day with one opportunity at a very nice fish. Cynthia had one nipping at her topwater bait all the way into the boat, but she ran out of real estate as the fish veered at boatside. That was the only fish we came into contact with all day, and the Kitchens got a good lesson in the realities of musky fishing. They don’t come easy, and that’s what makes them great!
I was proud of Greg for the decision he made for Day #3. He wanted to catch a musky and was determined to get it done. My kind of guy! A slight south wind had kicked up, and I was hopeful the change would get the muskies in a different mood. Water temperatures held at 75 degrees and we continued to work over weeds and along weed edges in 5′ – 9′ of water with topwaters, crankbaits, and bucktails. The second spot we hit produced a blow up on Greg’s topwater bait. Although he didn’t connect, that was definitely a good start. Shortly after, another boat fishing near us had a follow. OK, they were on the move… We saw a fish surface the previous day on a weedy point and hit that spot next. No dice… Now it was time to pay a visit to our friend from the day before that nearly ate Cynthia’s bait. Not long after setting up, a fish smoked our bucktail after a clean miss at the topwater along side of it. Greg did a spectacular job of managing the chaos while battling the fish, and his first ever musky was soon in the net. Greg’s trophy was a gorgeous 40″ tiger musky with a fat belly and outstanding colors. What an awesome fish and an awesome experience. Very rarely do muskies come easy, and this was no exception. Incredible!!! After some pictures and release of the fish, I realized we still had some work to do. Greg needed a walleye to complete our journey. We packed up our gear and were off to another lake. Once again, conditions weren’t in our favor. The little wind we had laid down to nothing, and the sun was smoking hot as water temperatures began to climb into the high 70’s. It was grind it out time, and we began to drag crawler harnesses over deep weeds in 15′ – 18′ of water. Cynthia was the first to connect putting a 15″ fish in the net, and Greg’s first walleye came soon after with a 16″ fish. We’d done it!!! After some pictures and handshakes, Greg commented that all he needed to top off his trip was a northern pike. Done… A few minutes later, he landed a thick 28″ pike to complete his Wisconsin Slam!!! These past few days will always be remembered, and I’m so proud of Greg and Cynthia for sticking with the program to achieve their goals. Mission accomplished my friends, and thank you for letting me be a part of it!!!