Wisconsin Musky Fishing
Contributed by Forum Member Andy Brutlag
I write this as I finally got unpacked from my first real musky adventure. Today my wife and I made the trip to the Hayward Area to fish with musky guide Scott Kieper. The day started out awful early, 2:20 AM to be exact. The night before the trip, Scott called and said he wanted to get a head start on the day and asked if we could meet at a gas station in Hayward by 5:30 AM. He also said he wouldn’t be upset if we were earlier.
We had planned on this trip for months, so we likely would’ve been there at 2:00 AM if he asked us to. We had loaded the truck up the night before and were on the road by 3:15 AM. At 4:11 AM Scott calls, change of plans, meeting at a different gas station down the road due to the wind conditions. Scott told me the night before that he had caught an unheard of number of muskies on this spot two days earlier, we were excited to say the least.
We pulled into the meeting spot a while later and waited in anticipation. At 5:03 AM Scott calls again, he said he was 90 seconds out and told us, “I will give you the signal and you just fall in behind me. We will take care of shaking hands and the formalities a few miles down the road.” After talking with Kieper a few times on the phone you quickly realize he is all about business, and that business is catching muskies.
Almost to the second he passes by and we meet up down the road to get ice for the suckers. After quite a distance we stop at a boat landing, spot number one. Suckers are rigged and we are off in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t take long for the first musky sighting of the day, a slow roll on the surface near one of his favorite spots. Kieper explains we will come back for that one later, but he has one specific fish in mind to target before the sun comes up. There is something about Kieper that makes you believe every cast you make is towards a musky.
Although that one fish we were after never showed itself, we learned musky fishing to Kieper is much more than just lures and spots. He is into the science behind the fish, the fishery, and just about everything else that breathes. We try to take everything in as we fished a few more spots before Kieper said it’s time to go somewhere else. He said he is the only guide that he knows that will move to different bodies of water with clients. He said if the fish aren’t active in one body, they probably are in another, so there’s no point in staying if the fish aren’t biting.
He motors to the landing, loads the boat in almost inhuman speed and down the road we go. My wife and I scarf down a few sandwiches we had packed on the way to the next spot. Spot number two, we arrive and see a few boats trailers parked at the landing, which doesn’t please Kieper. He explained earlier in the week he had the lake to himself and, like any serious musky fisherman, doesn’t like people fishing in his areas.
Before we know it we are back in the boat cruising across the lake. We push up to a windswept shoreline, drop the suckers, and start to cast. “This shore has had wind on it for two days now, if there’s active fish in this lake they should be in here.” Not more than five minutes later he gets a bite, but the fish missed. A few more casts down the shoreline later and he decides its time to move again.
Body number three, not 20 minutes after the spot change, the fish started showing up. The suckers were being stalked by at least three different fish and they were all big. Kieper kept our spirits high on the boat as we kept searching for more active fish. A storm cell passed by just to the west of us and all of a sudden a monster musky was hot on my lure all the way to the boat. I made a huge sweeping turn and the fish followed close behind, only to sink away after the next one. “We’ll come back and get her in a few minutes, don’t worry,” he said. We circled around to make a pass at that fish again and suddenly hear a huge splash at the back of the boat, followed by a sucker rod drag screaming line off. Fish on!
We scampered to get all of our lines in as Kieper positioned the boat for the fight. “Try to break the rod when you set the hook,” Kieper explains to my wife. After a short fight and swift net job we had our first musky of the trip. While Kieper has no problem putting holes in the fish’s mouth with hooks, the rest of the process of fishing is focused on their health. He almost instantly has the hooks out of the fish and lets it revive itself in the net before taking it out for a photo. He takes extra time to demonstrate the proper (and safest) way to hold these toothy giants without hurting you or the fish. After a quick lesson its time to get the fish out of the water for a quick photo and measurement, then back into the water for a release shot. The fish swims away unharmed and cheers and high fives go around the boat, lets go get another.
We got another sucker hooked up and started casting our lures back into the water. This time there was something different in the water, almost magical, the fish had turned on. It was cast, cast, cast then we had another follow at the boat. The next minutes were intense, follow, follow, follow and turn on the figure eight, follow. The fish we were chasing were in an area no bigger than 40 yards by 40 yards, and there was a school of them. Yes, a school of muskies.
We passed the same exact spot we caught the first one and heard a WHOOSH! behind the boat. Click-click-click-zzzzzzz! Another sucker had been smashed. Kieper hands the rod to me and gets ready for the fight. I set my hands and squat down to get a strong hook set. I set the hook so hard I expected the fish to come out of the water, nope. I hardly got the rod tip above my waist and the fight was on. A few intense moments later we had the fish at the boat and netted. My first musky. Another photo shoot and measurement and off she swam. It was at that moment that I knew something bad had happened, I had the musky sickness.
The day continued with lots of follows and figure eights at the boat with several different fish. We had another crazy sucker strike where the fish somehow got away without catching a hook in its mouth. As hard as it was to realize, the trip had come to an end and had made the last cast, we were tired. We loaded the boat up and said our goodbyes. The whole trip home we talked about our casts, favorite lures from the day, and how we wished we never had to leave. You can bet it won’t be long before we find ourselves in the boat again with Kieper, chasing these magnificent animals we’ve all come to love.
If you are looking for an opportunity to fish for world class muskies with a world-class guide, I would strongly recommend Scott Kieper Fishing Guide Service. He said he might have some availability yet this fall, so don’t hesitate to call and get yourself into his world of muskies.
Scott Kieper Fishing Guide Service
Hayward Area Fishing Guide