The Lure of The North!

by Free Speech on December 7, 2009

Lodi, WI~

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

Lodi, WI
by Wally Banfi

George Banfi and Gary N-Ski casting for muskies in Northern Wisconsin

George Banfi and Gary N-Ski casting for muskies in Northern Wisconsin

Recently I had a chance to travel to northern Wisconsin and chase the king of freshwater fish…the mighty musky.  My brother, George Banfi, a builder by trade, built a beautiful home in the wilderness of Vilas County where we would be staying.  Our good friend and fellow “musky-hunter” Gary N-Ski of Lodi would be joining us.  Gary is a professional photographer and is a “hoot” to have in the boat.  Gary’s good humor and fun outlook on life makes him a lot of fun to be around.  I was anticipating some big muskies and really looking forward to the adventure.  It’s the lure of the north.

After arriving Friday around noon, we downloaded some of our gear and got the boat ready to fish.  I fish out of a Ranger 618 VS, which is very safe and has lots of room to work. We had 10 musky rods rigged and ready to go.  Many were Fenwick 7’6”, 8’, and 8’6” rods with Abu-Garcia 6500-C3 reels loaded with 80lb and 100lb test Stealth Super-Braid.  We were ready to tackle a monster!  It’s the lure of the north.

I had purchased 5 extra large musky suckers from the bait dept. at Wilderness Fish and Game.  They were 15” to 16” long and I had special ordered them knowing we would be heading up north to lakes that have produced numerous muskies over the “benchmark” of 50”.  I kept the suckers alive in my pond at my home and I fed them nightcrawlers and minnows to fatten them up and keep them happy.  The pond is aerated to keep them healthy, and I have a lid on it to keep them from jumping out.  The ventilated lid also helps keep un-wanted critters from trying to get them (raccoons, etc).  I built a remote aerator using a deep cycle marine battery in a battery box and a bilge pump, with 3’ of tubing.  Attached to the tubing is a 1’ piece of ¾” p.v.c pipe with 6 holes drilled in it to spray water down onto the bait.  It works great.  We were ready to catch a giant musky with our giant bait! It’s the lure of the north.

Gary N-Ski with a fall musky which was caught (and released) on a quick-set sucker rig

Gary N-Ski with a fall musky which was caught (and released) on a quick-set sucker rig

Everything was great… except one important factor…the weather!  Mother Nature was not too friendly and when we woke up, it was 24° out and the boat had 1” of snow in it.  No big deal, right? WRONG! All the lids on the boat froze shut and the trolling motors would not work correctly.  We were pre-paired and with 2 heaters along, we thawed the boat out and headed down the road Saturday morning to catch the big one.  When we arrived at the pier we were greeted with beautiful 3’ to 4’ whitecaps slamming right into the pier.  We took a vote on it and decided we could launch using 2 long ropes, one on the front and one on the back so the boat wouldn’t get slammed onto the shore.  It was exciting and we successfully got the big motor running and were able to get out on the water.  When dealing with the cold, often freezing water, temps you need to constantly make sure your motor is pumping water out of the back, so you don’t do any damage to your outboard.  Also make sure you are not trying to run your bilge pumps and aerators in your lower bilge area out the boat because you can freeze up and break the pumps.

We casted bulldawgs, jerkbaits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, bucktails and even top-water lures trying to lure a musky to the boat where they would surely see and grab one of our 3 suckers which were decoyed over the side.  We did have one musky come in and grab a sucker.  It carried it off a short distance and let go.  No muskies in the boat on this day, but we had a lot of laughs and enjoyed the great fall colors and our time in the great outdoors.  All of those big dreams of a monster musky changed, but we all agreed it’s about the fishing sometimes.  It’s not always about the catching!  We saw 2 black bears, an eagle, and a wolf on the road…how cool is that? It’s the lure of the north.

Don’t forget to listen to “Outdoor Horizons Radio” on Saturday mornings @ 8:00am.  AM-1670 on your dial.  Take a kid musky fishing and if you don’t have one…borrow your neighbors!

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