MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Muskie fishing has been part of Minnesota’s outdoor culture since the advent of the rod and reel.
In year’s past, only a small percentage of anglers targeted these monsters of the deep.
Now, muskie fishing has entered the mainstream.
But where is the best place to fish for them? WCCO viewers say Leech Lake. So fishing buddies Amelia Santaniello and Angela Davis headed out in search of Minnesota’s largest game fish.
Leech Lake: 102,947 acres, 195 miles of shoreline, Minnesota’s 3rd largest lake.
It’s important to do your homework when you’re after one of North America’s largest game fish, on one of the state’s largest lakes.
And in mid-October, when most boats have been shrink-wrapped and stored for the season, you’ll find fishing guide Bob Landreville braving the elements, casting a rock pile, or working a weed line and honing his skills.
“They’re such an interesting fish to catch,” Bob said.
He’s not just a “muskie guy.” Bob can guide you to any species you want to catch. And his roots in this area are as deep as the lake itself.
“I was a dock boy for Roy Huddle for 11 years, then one day he asked me to guide some guys from Chicago, and I’ve been a guide on the lake ever since,” he said.
And it was in those early days that Bob began his fascination with the muskies in Leech Lake.
“The guys that taught me the lake were the guys that fished in the ’55 Rampage,” he said.
The “rampage” is a part of Leech Lake history that reads more like folklore. In July of 1955, conditions on the lake occurred which caused a kind of muskie feeding frenzy.
“You know, we just have the perfect setup. We have weeds, we have rock and the right kind of forage, and people put the fish in the water right away. The days of killing them are pretty much over,” Bob said.
He introduced Angela and I to a fishing technique neither of us had ever tried: using a sucker minnow that’s practically as big as your forearm.
He also showed us the patience of Job, and we became quick studies.
“You know Angela, this is a good time to be out here because the lake has turned over, and the muskies are in their fall feeding patterns. Did you know that?” Amelia said.
“I didn’t know you knew that [laughs]!” Angela said.
And now we troll, and we wait.
“You can keep one over 54-and-a-half inches, but most people have a replica made and then they can release the fish for someone else to catch,” Bob said.
With lots of time for the mind to wander, we pondered that there seemed to be a lot of similarities between muskie fishing and day-to-day life.
“It reminded me a lot of dating,” Angela said. “You put on something shiny and you just wait for something to come along and pay attention to you.”
In muskie fishing, as in life, success isn’t measured by fish caught — but rather by knowledge gained.
“You know in the past, this is the way I’ve caught some of my biggest muskies,” Angela said. “Long lining with a sucker minnow [laughs]!”