Water temperatures hovering around 60 degrees greeted the University of Esox as it held its annual Canadian Musky Adventure School at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp on the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods in July.
“The conditions made this our most challenging school yet, but perhaps our most rewarding,” said Musky Hunter Editor Jim Saric. “Our students worked together to unravel the patterns, and we caught a number of nice muskies.”
The University of Esox format calls for students to meet twice each day to discuss and share fishing patterns, and never before was this more important. “No matter what, somebody always figures out a pattern for the day, and by discussing what was happening on the water our entire school ended up catching more muskies,” said Musky Hunter Managing Editor Steve Heiting.
Students and staff accounted for 125 muskies during the week-long event, including three over 50 inches in length. Four students caught their largest musky.
“The ‘bite’ for the week proved to be schizophrenic, and the feeding windows extremely short,” noted Saric. “However, we found that if we contacted active fish we needed to immediately return to other followers, because there was a good chance they would eat, too. By comparing experiences, it gave the students the confidence to fish through the down-times and not second guess themselves, and then to be ready to take advantage of a feeding window when it occurred.”
Paul Best of Yarmouth, Maine, earned the school’s Big Musky Award by catching his largest fish, a 51-incher, while fishing with resort owner Bill Sandy. The musky initially followed a bucktail and then ate a Bull Dawg when it was used as a throw-back lure.
David Dickinson of Middleton, Wisconsin, also used a Bull Dawg to catch his personal best musky, a robust 50-incher, and Scott Folsom of Green Bay, Wisconsin, used a Booty Call bucktail to catch a 50-incher.
A total of 55 muskies measured at least 40 inches in length, and 18 were at least 45 inches long. Other students and staff who caught muskies of 45 inches or better were: Dave Lowery of Dover, Delaware, 49 1/4 inches on a Double Cowgirl, his largest; Jim Drost, 49 inches on a Double Cowgirl; Mark Lyons, 49 inches on a Double Cowgirl; Sandy, 48, 46 and 45 inches, on bucktails; Heiting, 47 1/2 and 45 inches, on a Hellhound and Double Cowgirl, respectively; Folsom, 47 inches on a Shallow Invader; Marc Ericksen of St. Michael, Minnesota, 47 inches on a Grandma; Mike Persson of Hayward, Wisconsin, two 46-inchers on a Grandma; Quentin Milz of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 46 inches on a Grandma, his largest; Mike Milz of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, 45 inches on a Double Cowgirl; and Jordan Weeks of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, 45 inches on a Grandma.
Competition was tight for the school’s Top ’Lunge Award, which goes to the student with the most muskies for the week. In the end, Ericksen won the honor with seven fish. Jesse Burman of Strasburg, Pennsylvania and Weeks were next in line with six each, while John Mich of Bartlett, Illinois, Best, Shane West of Verona, Wisconsin, and Mike Aalberg of Lincoln, Nebraska, caught five each.
The school was held for the second year at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island. “This is rapidly becoming our home-away-from-home,” said Heiting. “Bill and his wife Cindy, and their families and staff, run a first-rate resort. Their accommodations and food are outstanding. We’re proud to work with them as our hosts for the school.”
The University of Esox will return to Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp in 2010 during the week of July 17-24. Watch Musky Hunter for details.