I would say that most anglers, whether they specifically target muskies or not, understand that catching these brutes on purpose is a challenge. While the pay-off may be one of the biggest in freshwater fishing, the victory often comes with hours of boredom or frustration. Nobody understands this better than me, I promise. At the same time, I’ve met very few anglers that don’t have a good surprise muskie story, because these fish just love to show up when you’re not looking for them, and when your tackle is completely undergunned for the ‘skie that’s suddenly on the end of the line.


I bring this up because it happened just last week. That’s my friend and guide Frank Campbell in the photo above. We were slinging jerkbaits and spinnerbaits against some of the walls in Buffalo Harbor for smallmouths, and the bite was kind of slow. I picked a few smallies on jerks, but Frank hadn’t turned a single bass on his spinnerbait. Then all of a sudden…muskie time. Frank just barely hooked this tiger in the top lip and manged to keep the fight short and put it in the net. He got lucky, but most people don’t.

I have one buddy who’s only muskie encounter was a big girl flying in and cutting the crappie he was fighting right off the line. Another friend and fellow member of my trout club had a big ‘skie shoot out from under a log and rip his 16-inch rainbow to shreds. To this day, we have no idea why there was even a muskie in this stretch of trout stream or where it came from. Though I’ve never actually had a muskie grab my trout or bass lure, or take a fish off my line, I once had a solid 45-incher ghost up behind a carp I was fighting, and another turn on stickbait I was tossing for pickerel. It about scared the pants off me. What’s your surprise muskie tale?