Trophy: Pike, musky
Hunting grounds: New England
Trophy room: Five-time winner Vermont Master Angler award, registered largest pike and musky in trophy citation program. Werner Paddles, Jackson Kayak pro, owner Stream and Brook Flyfishing. www.streamandbrook.com.
What is a trophy catch?
It’s all relative to the time you put in. When I was little, a 16-inch trout was a trophy compared to the nine-inch fish I was used to catching. Then I caught a 24-inch trout and 16 was common. If people look at the photo of the fish I catch and say, “I’m not going swimming in that water!” then I feel like that is a trophy.
Finally landing my first musky from a kayak. I had landed a few from canoe or small boat with a partner paddling, but solo in a kayak was really hard. I fish rivers with strong current and log jams. Musky hunt down the fly, often striking close to the boat. They have a bony mouth and lots of teeth so I have to strip set the hook. Then they jump and twist in the air. You have to fight the fish while paddling around obstacles in the river. Then, net the fish solo. Too many opportunities for failure.
Favourite fish story?
In eight days last June, fly fishing on Otter Creek, I caught a 47-inch musky and a 45.5-inch pike. In the same period, I also caught two pike over 40 inches and a bunch of big bass on topwater flies. The story made the papers. It was the best run in my life.
What motivates you?
That moment when I make the perfect cast and a big fish turns and smacks it. After I release a personal best catch, it’s time to start looking for a bigger one.
Advice to future trophy hunters?
Practice effective catch and release techniques. Be sure your camera is ready, use a landing tool, handle the fish with wet hands and use appropri- ate tackle. Patience is key. I fished 10 years for pike and caught most of my fish in the last two years.
How do you celebrate a trophy?
I’ll sit on the tailgate of the truck and drink a cold PBR while texting photos to friends and sharing on social media. I have a wall of retired flies. They’ve all caught big fish, some are thrashed to the bare hook.
Most valuable resource?
Local intel is key. Talk to people on the water and make notes. It’s helpful to have friends to fish with, they push me to keep going.
This article was originally published in Kayak Angler, Volume 10 • Issue 3. Read this issue.