By Jeremy and Trey Baalke
Before my son Trey tells the story of his first 50 inch musky, a little background is necessary. Trey is 12 years old, and to say he has a passion for fishing would be an understatement. Even though muskies are his favorite he is just as happy jigging walleyes, or chasing bluegills with his fly rod. He genuinely just “Loves the Chase”. Since he has been big enough to hold a rod, Trey has been immersed in a fishing family. Both of his grandpas are fishermen (one is a world class fly fisherman, the other was a tournament bass angler) and all his uncles/cousins fish as well. One of my good friends calls it the “perfect storm”. If that is the case it is a storm that has produced many great angling memories over the last several years. Here is one of them...
When I woke up early on the morning of August 18 the last thing I was thinking about was catching a fifty inch musky. It was a cold front day with clear skies, no wind, and bright sun. As we drove to the landing to pick up Josh Kragthorpe I was hoping that we could at least see a few fish. The day before was overcast and warm. I caught two mid thirty inch muskies and had lots of action. In the afternoon we fished a weed bar and moved a few fish. One of the them that came in on Dad’s bait was a really nice one. We decided to go back to that spot first thing in the morning.
When we got to the spot Dad asked me what I was going to throw. I knew I wanted to throw my Juice Mini Honey Bear. This was the same bait that I caught my personal best on the year before. It had been hanging on a shelf in my room the whole year, and I had saved it just for this trip. I grabbed my rod, jumped up on the front deck, and started casting. We fished through the area of the weed bar where we saw fish the day before, but we didn’t even move a fish. We were almost all the way around the spot when the wind started to pick up. Dad and Josh hooked up their rods and got ready to go, and I decided to take one more cast. About half way back to the boat my bait stopped. I yelled “Got one!” and set the hook. Right away I knew it was a nice fish. It was really heavy and I could feel big head shakes. The fish stayed down all the way to the boat. About five feet from the boat the fish rose up to the surface, and that was when I realized how big it actually was. For a few seconds I couldn’t catch my breath as the fish laid there with my bucktail in the corner of its mouth. Then it dove and the fight was back on. About 20 feet of line ripped off my reel and my rod slammed down on the side of the boat. This fish was strong! After the big run the fish came to surface again. Dad told me to keep my tip down so it wouldn’t jump. I pulled it toward the boat as hard as I could and we netted it just before it dove again.
Once the fish was in the net we started high fiving each other and Dad and Josh both gave me a hug. I knew this was my biggest fish. As we unhooked it and got ready to measure, I started to shake. The fish’s head looked bigger than mine! Dad helped me lift the fish out of the net and onto the bump board. The tail was just over the red fifty inch mark. My first fifty incher! We took a couple pictures and then put the fish back in the water. After a few seconds, it slowly swam out of my hands.
When we got back home after our trip I went into my tackle box, pulled out the Honey Bear and laid it back on the shelf in my room. I am going to keep it there until next summer. Maybe next year I can catch another big fish on it!