Chasing really big muskie on Green Bay: Still chasing and dreaming
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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Capt. Kevin Pischke told of a commercial fisherman telling him about a 59-inch muskie that tore up his nets.
Such mythical tales build the mystique of Green Bay muskies.
A bass fisherman caught a 60-inch muskie in May while pre-fishing for the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament.
Big muskies on Green Bay have pulled at me since Dennis Radloff championed them when he began guiding in 2005. It’s why I was with Pischke on Sept. 15-16.
Just after dawn on Sept. 15, I rode out with Pischke, an engineer with the Green Bay Metro Fire Department, and retired sheriff’s deputy/canine handler Tim Newtols.
Pischke primarily trolls, though his biggest muskie casting (53 inches) came Aug. 28 of last year. Lax Reproductions just finished it, and Pischke arranged a pickup while we fished.
That’s what draws me: a chance at a big fish like that.
Pischke keeps an orderly 19-foot MirroCraft. He methodically set nine rods with Slammers, Shad Raps and Crane Baits, baits to match the gizzard shad coming toward the Fox River.
‘‘That’s why it is important in running baits with drop-down bellies rather than stickbaits,’’ Pischke said.
He runs a keel weight in front of the crankbaits to catch weeds. His Off Shore Side Planers run 17 to 40 feet back.
In midmorning, terns came down on bait.
‘‘That’s a good sign,’’ he said.
Finally, at high noon, a rod screamed. I was happy to land my second-longest northern pike, a beautifully marked 38-incher.
‘‘Well, we got the cousin,’’ Pischke said.
The Wisconsin DNR stocks muskies in Green Bay. Just before I arrived, thousands of 17-inchers were stocked at various sites.
We fished the Suamico area without luck, then tried the east side and by Frying Pan Shoal, which at times works like a funnel. But none funneled toward our baits.
On Sept. 16, we launched in near-dark. Shots from goose hunters rang out on shore. We saw and heard of two muskies caught early as we worked the Suamico area again.
If you’re outside enough, weather gains mystical status. Pischke favors Intellicast as his go-to. He said the ideal barometric pressure is 29.5; we had 30.02.
Pischke said his first muskie on Green Bay came from the Fox, ‘‘just throwing generic crankbaits for whatever would bite, maybe 18 years ago.’’
As the day warmed and continued fishless, Pischke cracked: ‘‘At least with golf, you get to knock your ball in the hole.’’
With no fish, our conversation veered across topics, including that the top request for boat design now is a USB port.
In the early afternoon, Pischke picked up Jeff Widmann in the Suamico River. Widmann, an electrician, is the founder of Team Rhino Outdoors, the groundbreaking online market for specialty muskie stuff.
We finally had a screaming rod, but it was a big freshwater drum whacking a 705 Crane Bait.
‘‘What can we imagine to catch fish?’’ Pischke mused, looking at rods. ‘‘Thing is, everything out here has caught fish.’’
Some days not. That adds to the mystique and draws me back.
Follow me on Twitter @BowmanOutside.