The Mighty Musky
By Aaron Motley
Some anglers call them the fish of 10,000 casts. I know I feel that way! Muskies live in many rivers and lakes in North Carolina. These fish are the apex predators of their waters. This makes muskies fun to fish for using extra large flies or large conventional tackle to imitate the suckerfish, trout, or any fish smaller than them living in the habitat.
Lake James, Lake Adger, Cheoah Lake, French Broad River, Nolichucky River, and Saint John’s River to name a few. In all these bodies of water, muskies like structure and places to ambush prey. Drop offs, deep holes in a river, and confluences where baitfish gather, are places to concentrate fishing time. Musky will spawn sometime around February. Fishing for them prior to spawning can be very productive because they are trying to add on weight before they begin their spawn each year. Water clarity and levels are always something to think about prior to planning your next trip musky fishing.
Some gear an angler will want, or need, to catch and release these unique creatures are a really big net, stout long hemostats, fly or lure retriever, boat, 10 or 12 weight fly rods, floating line, sinking lines, large arbor reel, and some 8-14 inch flies. Other helpful tips are learning to make figure eights at the side of the boat to hopefully entice a last chance strike. For the fly angler, making sure you strip set upon a strike from muskies. How an angler connects their line to the fly is also something to experiment with. Some use steel wire or Rio Wire Bite, fluorocarbon and monofilament from 40 – 80 pound test with swivels and quick clasp rated for these fish.
These fish do not run like redfish. What they lack in running, they adequately make up in power by thrashing, rolling, tail walking, and throwing your fly. Fighting these fish may not last a long time, but they are intensely powerful fights for a short amount of time.
Time and patience, tons of casting, several beers, and one moment will make catching one musky a fish to be remembered for a lifetime. Also makes a great fish story!
Come to Hunter Banks Fly Shop in Asheville, NC or Waynesville, NC and let us help you get started musky fishing on the fly. We can also help in learning to tie flies for muskies.
Aaron, a graduate of Brevard College, is the day-to-day Operations Manager at the Waynesville location of Hunter Banks. His waterfowl hunting addiction supports his fly tying addiction. He has learned his fly-fishing craft from many mountain “fishy” people and pursues large trout, bass and musky on a daily basis. He teaches others to do the same. Get in touch with him through Hunter Banks.