Catching a personal best musky is always exciting, but imagine Jack Redmond’s week in July when he caught his biggest musky twice.
Redmond and his father, Michael, of Monee, Illinois, attended the University of Esox Canada Musky Adventure School at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island July 13-20 and experienced an incredible week. Michael started the school out well when he caught a 44 3/4-inch musky on a Musky Mayhem Showgirl early on the school’s first evening. On the next spot, Jack boated a 44 7/8-incher on a Double Cowgirl for his top fish. Both muskies were quickly released after photos.
Five days later, Jack used a figure-8 maneuver with a Double Cowgirl to again set a personal mark with a 48 1/2-inch musky.
In all, 86 muskies were boated by University of Esox students and staff during the week-long event, which was attended by students from four states.
“We battled through some incredible thunderstorms the final four days. I can only imagine what we would have caught had we experienced stable weather,” said Jim Saric, host of “The Musky Hunter” TV show and emcee of the event. “But everyone kept fishing hard and by the end of the week we had some very nice muskies boated.”
The fish chart showed 44 muskies caught by nightfall Monday. Starting Tuesday, at least two thunderstorms hit the area each day for the remainder of the week, slowing the musky action considerably. Only 42 fish were tallied during those four days.
“Rather than having a pattern, we needed to just keep fishing until we found a biter,” explained Musky Hunter Magazine managing editor Steve Heiting. “We caught fish from thick weeds, all variety of rocks, and sand, on every bait imaginable. That series of storms really threw the fish for a loop.”
Only two of the first 18 muskies caught were in figure-8’s. As the weather started getting shaky, a figure-8 was required to trigger over 60 percent of the remaining fish boated.
Students and staff came up with an unusual new figure-8 twist that resulted in a number of muskies that otherwise would not haver been caught. “With our school’s format of working together and sharing information, we produced a figure-8 maneuver that produced several nice fish,” said Saric. “I’m sure somebody has come up with it before, but nobody has talked about it. It will be interesting to see if it will work on other waters.”
T.J. Henriksen of Pittsboro, Indiana, caught the largest musky at the school by a student, a 49 1/2-incher on a homemade double-nine bucktail in a figure-8. It was the second consecutive year Henriksen boated the largest fish in the Canada Musky Adventure School.
Heiting also caught a 49 1/2-incher on a Suick Muskie Thriller.
Rob Bushman of Monticello, Indiana, caught his personal best musky, a 48 1/2-incher, on a spinner while fishing with resort owner and guide Bill Sandy. Others with muskies measuring more than 45 inches included: instructor Kevin Schmidt, 47 and 45 inches on spinners; John Wolff of West Lafayette, Indiana, on a Junior Cowgirl; Saric, 45 and 45 inches on a ShallowRaider and a Double Cowgirl; and Ed O’Neill of Dwight, Illinois, 45 inches on a Double Cowgirl.
Forty-four of the 86 muskies caught measured at least 40 inches long.
The University of Esox will return to Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp July 18-25, 2020. Details will be announced soon.