Hollywood couldn’t have done a better job of scripting the weekend enjoyed by Cole Will.
Cole, the son of Mike and Heather Will of Minocqua, Wisconsin, received enrollment into the University of Esox Summer Musky Tactics school from his parents as a gift for his 12th birthday. While fishing with instructor Rob Manthei during the school, Cole boated a 46 1/2-inch musky which stood as the largest fish of the event.
The Summer Musky Tactics school was held June 7-9 at St. Germain Lodge and the adjoining Fibber’s Restaurant. Twenty-three students from seven states attended.
Cole’s big musky, which was his personal best fish, was caught on a 700 series Buchertail bucktail as he retrieved it over a weedbed of an area lake. But the story gets even better.
Cole caught the musky from the same weedbed that used to be the home of an old male musky Manthei nicknamed “Scruffy,” which he or his clients caught 13 times starting in the 2015 season and continuing into last year. The fish was hooked badly in June 2018 and subsequently died, and Manthei laid the fish to rest at the foot of a pine tree that contained an eagle nest. Within an hour the eagles had finished their meal.
Fast forward to Saturday, June 8, and Cole, Manthei, and Cole’s grandfather, Pat Smith of St. Germain, Wisconsin, were approaching the weedbed. “I said, ‘Well, Scruffy, could you send us one of your relatives?’ and immediately Cole set the hook,” Manthei said. “It definitely was a surreal moment.”
Cole also was in Musky Hunter TV host Jim Saric’s boat Friday evening and watched his father catch his first musky, a 39-incher on a Swimmin’ Dawg, and Saric catch a 36-incher on a crankbait.
A total of 15 muskies were caught during the school, which focused on summer musky fishing tactics. Eight hours of seminars were wrapped around 16 hours of fishing.
Ken Williams of Fishers, Indiana, boated the second-largest musky of the school, a 44 1/2-incher, while fishing with guide Bryan Schaeffer. Nate Henrichs caught his personal best musky of 35 inches during the weekend, and Kristin Hamilton boated her first musky while casting.
Besides Saric, Manthei and Schaeffer, others serving as instructors for the weekend were Musky Hunter Managing Editor Steve Heiting and guides Kevin Schmidt, Charlie Buhler, Doug Smith and Jeff Van Remortel.
“We need to give Rob and Kaye Manthei and their staff at St. Germain Lodge and Fibber’s a shout-out for the great accommodations, service and food,” Saric said. “Theirs is a fantastic location for fishing the Vilas/Oneida County area of northern Wisconsin, and they always do a great job.”
Plans are already underway for the next Summer Musky Tactics school, which will be held June 12-14, 2020, again at St. Germain Lodge and Fibber’s. Watch Musky Hunter magazine or visit www.muskyhunter.com/university-of-esox for details. To enroll, call (715) 358-0754.