"PLAY IT AGAIN SAM"

It's day-five of a 6-day fishing trip with my 10year old son. I decide to raise the stakes a little to make things exciting. "How about this Sam." I decree." Today I'll give you a $1/crappie, $2/northern, $3/bass, $5/walleye, $20/any musky, and of course $100 for any legal musky." We had done well with the musky fishermancrappies all week and thought this was a good way to keep him focused on catching some of the tasty fella's, and bring them home to Mom. His only response, "Dad we're fishing for musky all day today." He began scouring all our maps and lake info and makes a declaration of his own. "We're fishing the weeds in Farm Bar. The Sportsman Connection map says it's often filled with muskies." "Sure thing Mr. Winkelman." I think to myself. This otherwise insignificant bay was adjacent to the channel that leads to Teal Lake. (We're on Lost Land Lake). Sam, who had commandeered the 9.9 on Day 2 of our trip, was in the boat fighting to start that Evinrude, before I could get lemonade and Slim Jims in the cooler.

Farm Bar was directly across the Lake from Northland Lodge where we were staying. "You've got to travel farther than this to catch fish." I mumble. Cooler temperatures, light rain, and a steady wind provided the perfect drift over 8-13 foot waters with occasional weeds. At about 10:30 Sam has a 3-foot tiger musky jump right in front of the boat. With the lure dangling from his mouth, he promptly spits the #5 mepps spinner in our face. "That's $20 swimming away there Sam." I laugh. No response only an increase in casting intensity. A couple follows, 2-3 hits and a lot of screaming later, Dad suddenly is into a big fish. A big Musky! We get it up to the boat and Sam tries to net it with the 15 inch crappie net I thought we'd use for Crappie today. The net grabs my #5 mepps buck tail and pulls it out of the monster's mouth... We quietly watch the biggest fish I ever hooked, swim valiantly away. The net was maybe 1/3 the size of the fish. I try not to get upset and only say, "That's a once in a life time fish, and we may never see the likes of it again. "We drift silently in the boat for a few minutes, neither of us casting. Finally the 5'8", size 14 Nike, son of a pharmacist says, "I'm starving."

Seeing the Lodge across the lake, we head in for lunch and relay our story to Ramona the better half of Dick & Ramona, the owners. Ramona says it's OK that we lost the fish because it's a great story and it will go in this year's newsletter. We didn't come up here to get into some lodge newsletter. It was written all over both of our faces. The site of that trophy swimming away was still clear in our heads.

1 Old Style, 2Pepsi, 1 Northland Burger, and a cheeseburger later, we were drifting over the same spot. I light up an Acid Atom Maduro. A cigar I was saving to celebrate a big fish. "We always get a bite when you light up a cigar Dad" yells Sam. He didn't say it, but he still felt bad that the net knocked the lure out of that big fish's mouth. "Yeah! You're righhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Before I could cross my "t", Sam was screaming at the fish that just followed his lure up to the boat. "Did you see that?!!" he screamed. "He's still there!! Drop your lure! Drop your lure!!" I yell. The fish was right next to the boat staying with us and the now brisk drift the new stronger winds were bringing. Sam was too excited to think. "Figure 8 that lure boy!" I thought. Too late, I dropped mine in and jiggled it around. The next sound I heard was the 25lb test monofilament screaming off the Catfish rod I owned as more of a joke than actual fishing gear.

After about 15minutes of fighting, I tell Sam to grab the video camera while I try to net this thing. The musky jumped right in front of us a couple times. You'd think it was the 4th of July with all the ooohing and aaaahhing going on. Then he made the crucial mistake of swimming high and inside the stern of our boat. He swam right into the crappie net and curled while I hoisted the beast into the wobbly craft. Pandemonium ruled for about ten minutes while we battled the whale on our turf this time. He finally settled and after a few mug shots, we happily sent him on his way. We couldn't measure him since we had no tape measure and he broke the 25lb scale we had. Looking at the picture, he was about from my head to my knees. That's over 4feet!

Ramona was right. As we had left the lodge after lunch, much to the boy's chagrin, she said, "Play it Again Sam"

Talks continue regarding the $100. Sam feels he's owed $50 for bringing the fish to the boat for me. Negotiations are going well. Sam & Steve Balistreri (Musky Fisherman)

June 12th 2003, Hayward Wisconsin

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