Well, my first musky story isnt what I hoped it would be. I caught about a 30-35" on Bankson lake. We had actually stopped musky fishing, and started bass fishing more or less. I was casting a 2 1/2" jitterbug and just slowly retrieving it. The big fella hit it hard, and just about swallowed all of it, along with 8" of steel leader. He must of hit it from behind. He jumped 3 times on the way in to the boat, and didnt seem very tired at the side of the boat. He was splashing around quite a bit, but was still fairly easy to control. Both myself and my friend in the boat are inexperienced with musky. When we first went out on the lake, there were three of us in the boat, and we were prepared with a net. However, halfway through the outing, we were joined by a friend in another boat, and one of the three in our boat decided to join him for some trolling. They took the net. That left me and one other friend in the boat, with no good way to land the musky. Anytime my friend tried to get a grip on his tail, it just slipped out of his hand. The lure was too deep into his mouth even for my 10" long fish pliers, so as a last resort we decided to try to bring him in the boat. My friend grabbed the leader by the top, which was no more than 4" from the muskies thrashing teeth, and tried to get him in the boat. Once he got about halfway out of the water, he just began thrashing about, and my friend was unable to maintain a grip on the leader. After a lot of splashing, spinning, and thrashing about, the line was cut. Im not sure if the musky got his teeth on the line, or if one of his gill plates cut the line, but the end result was a musky swimming away with a leader and hooks in him. My idea of a great first time catch most certainly included a successful release, and thats why i have mixed feelings about the catch. It was a lot of fun reeling him in, and just seeing him cruising in the water was pretty awesome, but I really feel quite bad about him leaving the side of the boat with hooks still in him. I realize there are a lot of things that were done wrong on my part. Lack of a good plan for landing him being at the top of the list. In addition, I plan to start using an 18" leader, as that would certainly have made brining him in by the leader less tense for my friend. I also know that Im going to need pliers much longer than 10" just in case. Being that the lure was so small, Im sure that had a lot to do with it getting as far down his throat as it did. So upsizing the lures is on the list as well. And Im going to build a cradle net. Id love to hear tips and suggestions as far as additional things to have on hand that might not be obvious. My questions are, In the event that a musky is caught that isnt able to be netted, how are you suppose to release it if you cant get to the hooks with the fish in the water? In the case of my fish, even though he was relatively small in the world of musky, there is no way that it would have been possible to cut the hooks out without sending an arm more than wrist deep into his mouth. Does anyone have tips to achieving a good gill hold. Can this hold be performed on musky that are less than completely worn out(ie. splashing at the side of the boat)? How likely is it that the musky will turn back toward you to try to bite? Can the hold be practiced on less agressive/dangerous fish? If anyone has tips Id love to hear them. I dont want to lose any fish like this again. Its one thing if they spit the hooks out on the way in, I can live with that. But to know that there is a 30"+ musky swimming around with my jitterbug in his throat, waiting for a grim end, is not a good feeling at all. Wanna kill these ads? We can help!