Records Fall During University of Esox Canada School

Eager students and warm, stable weather combined to produce record big fish catches when the University of Esox held its annual Canadian Musky Adventure school July 17-24.

The 14th annual school, which was held at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp on the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods, attracted students from six states.

“It was incredible. Guys who had never before fished a Canadian water were heading out and bringing back photos of the 50-inch muskies they had caught. We had lots of happy fishermen in camp,” said Musky Hunter Editor and TV show host Jim Saric, who emceed the event.

Continued Saric: “With our school’s information-sharing format, we uncovered several new patterns on LOTW that will only help us catch more muskies in coming years. As people tried and dialed into these new patterns they caught more and bigger fish.”

During the week-long event, students and staff set University of Esox records for the most 50-inch muskies during a Canada school with eight, and most muskies measuring 45 inches or more with 41. The total of 173 muskies caught was the fourth-most ever for the Canada school; the 105 muskies of 40 inches or more was the third-highest total; and the final day’s tally of 37 muskies caught was the fourth-most productive day in the 15-year history of the University of Esox.

“It really didn’t matter where somebody went fishing, because the fish were biting all over the map,” said Musky Hunter Managing Editor Steve Heiting. “As long as you could keep your lure wet and could figure-8, you were going to catch muskies. The new patterns helped step it up even further. Every single one of our students caught fish, four caught 14, and nine caught their personal best.”

Wally Ladik of Monona, Wisconsin, won the school’s Big Musky Award by catching a 53-incher on the final evening. Ladik was using a TopRaider in a shallow bay when he caught his biggest musky ever.

John Mich of South Elgin, Illinois, had perhaps the best week of all. He caught muskies measuring 51, 50 1/2, 49 and 45 inches, all on Double Cowgirls in figure-8’s, among 14 total muskies for the week. 

Mike Milz of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, garnered the school’s Top ’Lunge Award, which is given to the student with the most muskies. In the case of a tie, it goes to the student with the most total inches of fish. Milz caught 14 muskies, 12 of which were 40 inches or better, including two 49-inchers on Double Cowgirls, which were his personal best. 

Wayne Williamson of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, caught a 52-incher on a Double Cowgirl for his personal best musky. He also boated 14 fish, including others measuring 48 and 47 inches.

Marc Erickson of St. Michael, Minnesota, was the fourth student to catch 14 muskies. His best were two 47-inchers on Grandma baits, and a 45-incher.
Others who caught 50-inch muskies were: Tom Kersten of Hayward, Wisconsin, 51 inches on a Double Cowgirl (personal best); Mike Persson of Hayward, Wisconsin, 50 inches on a Bucher Mag Tinsel; Dwayne Schlegel of Thompsontown, Pennsylvania, 50 inches on a Double Cowgirl (personal best); and Saric, 50 inches on a Double Cowgirl in a figure-8.

Students and staff who caught muskies measuring at least 45 inches were: Schlegel, 49 and 47 inches; lodge owner Bill Sandy, 48, 47, 46 and 46 inches; Quentin Milz of Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 47 inches (personal best); Persson, 47 inches; Saric, 47 and 45 1/2 inches; instructor Kevin Schmidt, 47, 46 and 45 inches; Jared Sheaffer of Thompsontown, Pennsylvania, 46 inches (personal best); Neil Kruschke Jr. of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, 46 inches (personal best); Heiting, 46 inches; Matt Newman of Chicago, 45 1/2 (personal best and first musky) and 45 inches; Kersten, 45 inches; and Steve Kroll of Chicago, 45 inches.

The “bite” proved to be largely on twin-ten bucktails with Musky Mayhem Double Cowgirls, Mepps H210 and Bucher Mag Tinsels producing 128 of the 173 muskies caught (74 percent). “Still, it was much more than casting big bucktails,” Saric said. “It was the way you fished them, where you fished them, and the way you made your figure-8’s, that mattered.”

The school was held at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp for the third consecutive year. “This is fast becoming our home-away-from-home,” said Heiting. “The new main lodge is the perfect site for our seminars, the cabins are beautiful log structures, the food is great, the location is hard to beat, and Bill and Cindy Sandy and their staff are among the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It’s a great combination for our school, and we’re proud to work with them.”

The 2011 Canada Musky Adventure School will be held July 16-23, again at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp. To sign up, call 1-800-236-8759 (23-MUSKY).

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