Landing that trophy of a lifetime is an experience for all fisherman to cherish. There is nothing better than holding that big muskie or giant walleye. It's what we are out there for. Today's fisherman has never been more educated in the art of CPR, or Catch, Photo and Release. This is one of the major reasons for our trophy fisheries in this state. Heck, I can remember fishing with my grandpa many years ago, and anything and everything went into the basket. Well, that mindset is gone, and for good reason. We are doing far more good to our resources by selectively harvesting certain fish, and releasing the others to fight another day. Without this excellent approach, it is possible that the two fish I recently encountered would not have even been there. So this leads me to my point, and the story behind the pictures. Out on a favorite metro lake of mine, I recently slowed the motor down to come across one of the worst sights possible as a fisherman. At first I thought it was a muskie floating dead, but as I got closer, it was obvious that it was a huge walleye. I measured it at 30 plus inches just to see what we were dealing with. The very next day on the water, and in a very similar spot, I slowed down to yet another floating fish. This one was even larger. Yep, a muskie. Floating dead, and this one was in the mid 40 inch range. A fish of a lifetime no doubt, but what happened?
I'm sure that I will never know the answer to why either fish were floating dead, but it just brings me to my point. While it is great that the majority of fisherman now practice catch and release, the whole "release" part is only good if the fish is released properly. It makes a guy think a little about the next fish that comes in the boat. Are we really being good stewards of the water if we release a fish that is certain to die? While I have handled several hundred large muskies and other trophy fish over the years, to the best of my knowleadge, every one of them have lived to battle another day. I don't know if something happened after the release, and I will never know that. The only thing that I do know is that I have a plan each and every time out. When that big trophy does bite my bait, I know just what I am going to do. I have the appropriate gear, and a game plan. Those giants are going to go back for another day, at least I go far out of my way to ensure this. I think seeing a horrible sight like this is just a reminder to how fragile these big fish can be. It's a fun sport, but we must protect it. Next time out, consider a game plan when you do catch that trophy of a lifetime. You will be very happy you did, and trust me, it all happens very quickly. Until next time, Keep on Livin the Dream!