River Currents

by Free Speech on March 26, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
3/26/10
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

Muskie School is a Big Hit

Lee Tauchen, professional guide, instructs working baits in the pool.

Anglers are “chomping at the bit” to begin open water fishing in Wisconsin. The early trout catch and release season opened the first week of March and the walleye season on the Wisconsin and Mississippi River are open year-round, so some passionate anglers have begun to get on the water. This is also the time for spring fishing seminars and outdoor shows to showcase the year’s new products and increase one’s knowledge by attending seminars and classes in pursuit of their favorite fish species. The Madison Fishing Expo, held a month ago, had over 20,000 attendees looking at the year’s new gear and listening to seminars from the best anglers in the country speaking on every fish species that swims the waters of Wisconsin. The seminars were packed with anglers of all ages and sexes looking to learn more about fishing. These information hungry anglers are looking tips and tactics that can increase their fishing skills and help them be more successful in their fishing.

Muskie fishing is becoming more and more popular every year with the DNR and local muskie organizations, like the Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc. aggressively stocking muskies in local waters like the Madison Chain of Lakes, Lake Redstone, Lake Wisconsin, Twin Valley Lake, Swan Lake, and Fish Lake. The muskie which anglers used to say is the “fish of a thousand casts” has become more accessible and the learning curve has narrowed with the increased interest in this large predator fish. The DNR stocking in the Madison waters have introduced muskie angling to many fishers who for years thought that they had to travel to northern Wisconsin or even Canada for good muskie fishing.

There were six muskies caught during 2009 season over 50 inches which is considered a trophy in any water in the United States or Canada. This past year (2009) is the first time that a verified 50 inch or greater muskie was caught in the Madison Chain of Lakes which include; Lake Monona, Lake Wabesa, Lake Kegonsa, Lake Wingra, and Lake Mendota. The lakes have been stocked with two muskie strains (the Minnesota Leech Lake strain and the Thompson or Wisconsin strain fish) the last five years to see which muskie does better in our local waters. The money for these fish has come from groups like Muskies, Inc., the Oregon Muskie Busters, and the state DNR. Muskies are an expensive fish to stock and the state is looking for the best strain for our waters and most economical fish to raise and stock. There is some natural reproduction, but not much in southern Wisconsin.

This past weekend, the Capital City Chapter of Muskies (CCMI), Inc. had their 9th Annual Muskie School at Waunakee High School. This fun and informative annual event gives muskie anglers a chance to learn everything that they need to know about muskies. The “school” is designed to provide muskie anglers of all skill levels in-depth knowledge of such key topics as; the latest technology and fishing techniques, basic fishing for the youth and beginners, equipment and gear needed, and good muskie fishing locations locally, in other areas of Wisconsin, and even Canada. The Muskie School had lure demonstrations in the school’s pool, hands-on workshops teaching how to make some of your own equipment, “How to” classes, panel discussions, and much, much more for all muskie anglers.

Here’s a little history on the Muskie School. Past President and present Muskies, Inc. Board Member, Geoff Crandell, originally designed and developed the idea for the Muskie School with the help of Hall of Fame member, Bill Wood. The original idea was presented to the Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc. Board who rejected the initial idea. Crandell re-worked the plan and resubmitted it to the board that approved the proposal in 2001. The first school was at the gym and pool at MATC and there were about 50 attendees. The event was then switched to Waunakee High School where it has been every year since except for one year when the high school was being renovated. Waunakee High School and its classrooms, pool, and Performing Arts Center have been made available at no charge for this educational event. CCMI donates a “Muskie Angler Scholarship” of $300.00 to $400.00 as a “thank you’ to Waunakee high School for the use of its facilities.

Scot Stewart, Fisheries manager for the WI. DNR, instructs on making bucktails.

The growth of muskie fishing has grown steadily during the last decade and so has the Muskie School. Last year, there were 150 anglers who paid the $29.00 fee for the all-day event. This year, there were 220 muskie “hunters” for the event where anglers picked areas of interest and instruction from the three block time periods of instruction. Each block lasted approximately one and a half hours and school attendees had about 30 relevant and instructive classes to choose from and a “faculty” that has over 500 years of experience in the muskie world teaching the classes. Some examples of the classes that were offered are: poolside lure demonstrations, sonar and marine electronics, spring muskie techniques, muskie fishing basics for youth and adults, building your own muskie rod, making your own row-trolling boat, how to make bucktails and spinnerbaits, boat control, and patterning big muskies to name just a few of the classes that were offered. The faculty is composed of guides, muskie tournament professionals, and locals who know all that there is to know about muskie fishing. I can’t name all the quality instructors but some of the name ones included; Steve Herbeck, Lee Tauchen, Jeff Hanson, Steve Worrell, Adam Oberfoell, Jim Olson, Scott Hoglund, Scot Stewart, Duffy Kopf, and Steve Reinstra. Founder, Geoff Crandell, told me that; “We have a very open and sharing faculty. We have a great ratio of students and teachers. We have very small classes and we want to leave it that way. We also pay close attention to student feedback and their evaluations.” Students also receive coffee and donuts at the morning registration and an excellent catered lunch.

Crandell went on to tell me that this Muskie School is a great deal at its low price and above all the school emphasizes a very high quality educational opportunity for all of its students. Every year, the number of women and youth attending the School keeps increasing with some “students” driving from over 100 miles on a snowy morning in March. To the school instructors, it is all about quality, quality, and quality for the students. The teachers spend many long hours working on details and coordinating all the aspects of the school to make it the success that it has become.

The Muskie School is a great way for someone to get introduced to the sport or if you already are a muskie angler there are always new things to learn and try. When you have such a collected group of excellent anglers with hundreds of years of experience, you have the opportunity to learn much more than on your own. The small classes and one-on-one instruction can make anyone a better muskie fisherman or woman and is well-worth the $29.00 school fee. If you’re looking to improve your muskie skills or just starting the sport, I highly recommend the Muskie School. The evaluations from this year’s school are already being looked at to make the school even better next year! Thanks to Geoff Crandell, all the instructors, and to the Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc. Keep releasing muskies!

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