Paul From Minneapolis

Sunday, November 13, 2005

"Got a 40 and a 42-incher this morning."

So said the jovial guy on the western wind-protected side of Lake Harriet an hour ago, just south of the bandshell in the photo. A group of six or seven bundled-up Minnesotans together, men, women and kids, spread out on the constructed rock bank. Throwing 10-inch suckers 75 feet, out past the weedline on this urban lake.

I've done this kind of fishing. It's actually a skill to recognize a hit, and then to take advantage. It's easy to screw up. But boy, it sure does seem like the way to catch muskies, especially in the late fall, when they're serious about stocking up for winter.

(Muskies are really, really hard to catch, in case you didn't know. Or always have been. My Great Uncle Art spent decades fishing for muskies and caught two over 30 inches his entire life. Which was enough. More than enough. When you think of the Cubs, another potential Chicagoland passion, his success rate was phenomenal. And not atypical, to give Uncle Art his due. This was a lonely pursuit and he accomplished it twice.)

Lake Harriet is not a big lake, and can't contain all that many muskies. They're territorial to an extent, especially the big ones. The lake gets a lot of pressure. You'd think the Lake Harriet muskies would be getting more wary.

But it doesn't seem to be happening. The guy's wife missed a hit as I was standing there. (They said it wasn't my fault.) "Harry catches a muskie a day off the Rose Garden!"

The Lake Harriet muskies could be a test of a theory: catch-and-release muskie fishing, which, thanks to groups like this, has become nearly universal, might lead to the emergence of muskies that could really give a damn. "Oh's, it's this. Oh no. You fooled a fish, congratulations."

We know they get used to lures. They can probably get used to anything. When they stop fighting, won't we just begin to feel foolish?