A gift from Grampa

Grandson Tucker wants a musky fishing rod, and what better opportunity than his 12th birthday, coming up in May?

A couple of times Tucker has had muskies on the line on Birch Lake – they’ve taken walleyes in mid-retrieve. I didn’t try to net the fish and bring them on board because I wasn’t equipped to unhook and handle them properly, and I didn’t want to injure them. But now Tucker wants to go to the next level — he wants the proper gear. He became all the more excited when I told him there’s a place on nearby Bearskin Lake that the locals call Musky Bay.

So I’ve been shopping. I’ve found him a glossy red-and-black seven-foot graphite rod and a reconditioned baitcaster reel in mtaching red. I’ll need to spool it up with suitable line. He’ll also need leaders and a lure or two, most likely a bucktail spinner and a surface bait of some kind, just to get started.

I believe Tucker has the beginnings of the patience musky fishing requires: He is content casting an artificial bass or pike lure for an hour or more even if nothing bites. But he’ll need to learn a few new things. First he’ll have to practice to get the knack for using that baitcaster – he’s used to simple backlash-proof closed-face reels. He’ll also need instructions on how to safely cast those big lures with their sharp and dangerous hooks.

And then he’ll have to learn how to work the lures and where to cast them. Here I can help a little. I haven’t done much musky fishing, but I’ve caught a few and, being familiar with Birch Lake for more than 30 years, I know where they hang out. It will help if I do a little studying. I recently attended a musky expo where four guides shared some of their secrets. Tucker can learn, too, since he can find a huge variety of musky fishing videos on the internet.

I also need to acquire a proper landing net and hook removal tools, and get familiar with the right techniques for handling muskies – for the fishes’ health and my own safety.

Right now I have the musky rod and reel leaning in a corner beside our back door. I pick it up now and then and imagine making a cast that sends a big lure flying. I look forward to presenting the rod to Tucker; I’ll surely enjoy the giving just as much as he’ll enjoy the receiving. The bonus is that this gift automatically means more Grampa and grandson time on the water.