This is a bit of a meta-analysis of how the summer went down for those of us here in Dixie. I'm back to the process of getting my teeth kicked in by school, but wanted to revisit the best summer of my life. Feeling nostalgic and a little overwhelmed by my current to-do list I wanted to take some time and pay homage to all the water I fished, new and old friends alike that I got to fish with, the few fish that felt the net, and last but not least to all the fish that haunt me in my deepest sleep. It was weird to be 33 and to have a summer break, but I tried to make the most of it in spite of all the rain and muddy water. I probably hunted toothy fish close to 40 days this summer, each trip trying to scout new water, very rarely revisiting known beats. Those I fished with (TWiles, Chidester, Socks, Terd, Maniac, and few other no-namers) were excellent company and always maintained the focus, optimism, and humor that is required for this kind of work. Thanks for the memories, boys. Hope y'all enjoy the ride. -VW
The summer started slow. I fished a lot of water that was rumored to have musky. I probably logged 8 full days without seeing a fish. Tough medicine, especially after having a great winter. I saw a lot of sunrises and even more muddy water. Gotta be stubborn, flexible, and hopeful in this game, if not optimistic.
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Finally we started to move fish. Funny how the fish caught aren't as memorable as those that break your heart, which happened on every trip mid-summer till now. I probably saw 15 fish hooked, several long enough to have the net ready for the grab, only to get a fly flung back in our faces. There were a lot of moments of extended, quiet heartache as well as thunderous roars of anguish. What other pursuit can take us from calmness/boredom to fear to excitement and immediately to sadness all within 10 seconds? I can't think of anything. Some like to fish flies for carp. I like to fish carp for musky.
Here's a few that made it boat-side:
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We fished from a variety of vessels- some plastic, some fiberglass. Some rubber, some aluminum. All got the job done. Beer was consumed, shuttles were run, rope swings were tested, fires were built, and flies were tied by lamp light. As much as I like to think these fish are the end, I'm learning that they're just the means.
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My last trip out of the summer was the most memorable yet. It was never a planned trip, but out of the blue my wife says she's going to a wedding with one her work friends and that I'd be alone for 2 days. "Would that be okay?" she asked. I called up little brother, and four hours later we're running shuttle. This was his first musky trip. He'd never seen one and had only heard my stories. He picked up the heavy casting and was diligent about finishing every retrieve with purpose. He was soon rewarded with an eat at the boat that scared the shit out him by one of the biggest fish I've seen to date. He set the hook and promptly had his ass handed to him. After a long silence and a lengthy pull of Knob Creek he asked, "Is it okay that I'm a little scared?" I could only smile and slap his back and he let out a nervous giggle. We fished together for two days. He hooked up two more times with similar results and had numerous follows. I honestly could not have planned a better ending to an already great summer!
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