Try this. Betcha can’t. I dare you. I love any element like that, that takes away the control you are used to having in your daily fishing. I thrive on the challenge, to make myself a better angler, against whatever odds are stacked against me. This was recently the case with my buddy, Rich. Albeit, not on such a drastic level.
Rich Hacker is my partner at Brotherhood Of The Bend, and he hadn’t really been introduced to the world of predator fly fishing until we got hooked up. We talked about musky and pike, and the totally unrealistic streamers that get thrown at them. That gave him an idea, and a healthy dose of inspiration. He asked me if I would be willing to test some flies for him, since he had never tried to tie anything of that caliber.
Free flies and an excuse to hit the water more than I already do? Of course I said yes. Rich hoped they would eat, and I set my bar higher. I vowed to myself that each fly wasn’t proven, until it had 3 species eat it. Musky, pike, and largemouth bass. The Northwood trifecta.
The package of flies came, as did a new Redington Predator and Ross reel. What better way to christen undocumented flies? I rifled through the selection of streamers Rich sent, and picked out the smallest one, since I don’t normally throw small stuff. Coming in at a meager 5 inches, I dubbed it, the Hacker Snack. I figured it would be the most challenging to out fish the trifecta.
Opening day for Wisconsin rolled around, and I hopped in the boat, with a new rod and one fly. Something about an Everglade Special rolled around in my mind, and I got that notion out of my head right away. I would not be fishing this one single fly for a whole year. I would however be fishing this one fly, until it completed its task. The Hacker Snack trifecta.
A couple big pike smashed it and missed, early in the day. It was a good sign, but the proof is in the strip set. Finally by mid-day, I had pegged a pike, but I still had my work cut out for me. I knew the bass would be easy, but the fish of 10,000 casts still loomed before me on the roster.
The Hacker Snack made short work of the largemouth. One toss towards the cat tails, a few erratic strips, and I saw the lightning bolt shoot out of the weeds. Hit and miss. She hit so fast, she ripped the shark hook the fly was tied to, right out of her mouth. Two quick strips and she smashed it again. HARD. Boat side t-bone.
A few more fish came to hand, but they didn’t matter at the time, because I was hunting Esox the Great. I know the lake that I was fishing, very well. I have a comfortable grasp on getting a musky to pull my line tight. I took into account the time of year, recent and upcoming weather patterns, water temps, and general fishiness of the water, and headed to the other side of the lake.
There was another boat just finishing a drift through the spot I wanted to fish, so I started high and away, to give them space, but end up right where they were. Their drift finished and they ran back up to where I started. Two other boats thought we must have figured it out, and followed suit. I hate being crowded, but being the only fly angler in the fleet, I let it go. The other boats were watching me. I had to perform.
My casting was on point. 2 false and shoot. Dropping hundos off that fresh spool. Not catching a fish wasn’t an option, even though the other anglers were already getting a show they should have paid to be admitted to. Now was my time. All I needed was a musky. Just a musky. They didn’t know what I was up against, but their watchful eyes doubled my drive.
The end of the drift was quickly coming near, thanks to 20mph winds. The only dock that had been put out on the lake, was just a long full cast away. I gave it everything I had, and the rod welcomed the challenge. That streamer dropped right at the corner of the dock. Strip, strip….nothing. My heart sank. I hauled the 70 remaining feet of line of the water and sent it back to the dock’s edge. Strip, strip…FOLLOW!!
My heart raced, adrenaline coursed through my veins. My hands were shaky and my knees weak. Every strip of the line was countered with a charge by the shadow. My heart pounded in my ears. A couple more strips, and the final battle charge was made. The fight was on. Those anglers got their free, all ages, show.
As the wind pushed me to shore, I could hear the profanity and expletives coming from the boat behind me. I can only assume they were overwhelmed with joy, for my success. The battle still ensued, and my toothy quarry had no intentions of surrendering. The blue streak from my fellow angler seemed to have as much gusto as the fish. I finally netted her. My elation drowned out the noise.
Boat rocking against the shore, I dropped my rod in the hull, took a knee, and a moment, to celebrate the musky I had in the net. Every last one of these fish is amazing. There aren’t words. I realized my success. One fly, one outing, three species, in a three hour window. The Hacker Snack Trifecta.
Keep your lines tight, and your pride wet!
By Jared Lane of Brotherhood of the Bend
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