After many years of buying ridiculously large lures, splashing them mercilessly against the water, and going through a lot of other gyrations that were meant to help me catch musky, I had finally decided to try live bait and give my lazy bones some rest. I had actually tried this the year before and had near miss, so I had some faith that this approach could bear fruit if I got my act together.
Mike and I were anchored under a bridge on a northern Wisconsin river around noon on a sunny late September day, each of us floating live baits rigged up on large single hooks and long heavy leaders several feet below large foam bobbers. We were dabbling beneath the boat with minnows in the hope of picking up a walleye or something. We had been there for hours when the clicker on my real started to go "zip... zip... zip.." and suddenly we were both scrambling to take up lines, weigh anchors, find nets, and get the trolling motor operational.
Part of the problem with the fish the year before was that we had been under the impression that muskies wouldn't need much time to swallow smaller baits and I had set the hook too soon. This time the error was in the opposite direction. We followed the fish around for something like 15 or 20 minutes while it swam around, making short runs, quick dives, and spending a lot of time just sitting there bouncing the float. Eventually, after we saw the fish seemingly stalking some ducklings, we decided it was time to do something. I took up the slack and laid into the fish with a good, solid set. I didn't know it at the time, but the fish was going nowhere as it was hooked so deeply down the throat that we never really saw the hook again. Anyhow, I wenched it up to the boat and Mike scooped it up.
Neither of us had much experience handling a fish like this, but we eventually got it disconnected from my rig and into the live well. We were only a few yards from the dock we were using, so we pulled in to deal with the fish. We took pictures and measurements, then tried to revive the fish. It was obviously hurt badly, and may very well have died in the following days. However, after a few minutes the fish could stay upright on its own, and eventually it slowly swam off. I had finally caught a musky.