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Hey guys, I live over on the East side of the state, but grew up a west sider... I try to get over to Muskegon Lake each Fall a couple times to fish walleye with my Brother-in-law(aka Skinner) and nephew. This year, between deer hunting and fighting the wind, I had not been able to get out until last night.

Despite the weather forecast, the three of us ventured to the lake through the snow flakes arriving around 7:30. There was about 3 inches of the white stuff coating the ramp surface. As I backed the boat in, we slid down the ramp and stopped just before water came in through the liftgate... So the adventure begins… I got the truck/trailer out, but just barely...

The first hour was really nice out with virtually no wind and light snow. My nephew popped a 21 incher within the first 2 minutes of trolling. Over the next hour and a half, he proceeded to show the old men how to fish. He boated a 25 incher and then hooked and unfortunately lost a 28-30 incher right at the boat. I got bumped a couple times, and managed to boat a little 16 incher in the same time frame. The boat owner, captain, & guide (Skinner) managed to keep his lures free from any walleys during the same time. We then had a dryspell of about 90 minutes, so we decided to head over to Strawberry.

It’s now about 10 o'clock, and the winds had really picked up from the S/SW along with major snow... We tried a trolling pass in 12-14 fow and I got bumped once. We made another pass out over 16-19 fow when Skinner and I got hooked up at almost exactly the same time. My nephew was scrambling for the net trying to figure out who's fish he was going to net first. Skinners fish ended up shaking the bait, but mine stuck. I have boated a few fish in the 7 pound class over the last couple years in Muskegon and the Detroit River, but nothing larger. This fish felt every bit of that as it was peeling drag with long sweeping head pumps... It ended up taking about 5-7 min. to get the fish in the net. She ended up being my biggest walleye to date measuring 31 inches with a 17" girth. YES!!! What a hoot!

On the next pass, Skinner ended up boating another great fish in the same area which was about 27 inches. At this point it was about 12:30 and we were cold... We also knew we were going to have trouble getting the boat out.

We b-lined it back to the launch through the white-out to find about 8-10 inches of fluffy powder on the boat ramp... A quick trip to the local grocery for a bag of salt and a little improvising to shovel the ramp, we got the boat out in about an hour... Brrr...

Despite the snow and wind, there weren't any waves to speak of along the South shore. So it was cold, but I do not feel that is was unsafe. None the less, a few lessons learned... Bring warm clothes and more warm clothes, hand warmers, a portable heater of some sort (that works), a shovel, and salt.

Water was 38 degrees, fish seemed to be deeper (15+ fow), fish were stacked on the breaks, hit on black/gold and glass perch husky jerks 40-60 feet back.

We kept the 16 & 21 and the 25, 27, and 31 were released. Thanks for all the tips you guys have provided over the last couple years it has helped us put fish in the boat!!!

We didn’t have a scale in the boat. What do you guys think the 31 would have weighed? Thanks!
 

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Nice fish, I would thinks its over 11 lbs. Looks like you guys did a great job on a tough day. Really good of you to put that big pig back to. Makes for darn good reading while I get ready and wait for ice up.

Jimmy
 

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GREAT job on the 'eyes. Can't believe you guys put a boat in last night!! We were out on the pier and were wondering about getting stuck (while leaving) ... even without a trailer!! Pulling the trailer on the ride home must have been a real hoot as well. Again, nice job and good thinking/improvising on getting the boat back out of the ramp. :dizzy:

Ed
 

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We have eaten a few fish out of Muskegon in the 5+ pound range and they really don't taste as good as the 20" range fish. So releasing fish in the 5-10 pound range is easy. They don't taste good and they don't really hit "trophy status". Releasing the ~11 pounder was tough for me... I said earlier in the night, "if I catch a 12 pounder, I will mount it". Well, wouldn't you know, I ended up catching a nice fish. Maybe 12 pounds and maybe not... We didn't have a scale, so we took good measurements and kept her in the well for a bit. I really wrestled with keeping her...



However, I had a 41 inch northern skin mount done about 6 years ago, and I felt somewhat bad about taking that fish from the resource. I am also not too happy with how the mount is aging. On the other hand, I released my first 50" muskie a few years ago and had a replica made and I am thrilled with the quality and feel great about letting the fish live. So, I was thinking, if I did decide to get a mount, I would opt for the replica anyway. We took her out for a pic and I set her in the lake to see how strong she was. She hesitated for a minute and gave a good strong flick of the tail and she was gone.



This bring me to another question. Is an 11-12 pound fish out of Muskegon worth mounting? I know only I can make that decision, but if you just look at numbers and size of walleyes coming out of Muskegon, does this hit "trophy status"? It is a great fish and it has a great story behind it, which makes it a trophy in and of itself. I only get to fish over there 1-4 times each fall, so are the odds of me catching bigger any time soon are probably small. What do you think?



The other thing I want to comment on is the conditions and answering the question, "what the heck were we doing on the water?". We did ask ourselves that question several times that night... If we would have had wind out of any other direction than South, we wouldn’t have been out there. We didn't have waves, so we just have to tough it out and put up with the blowing snow and cold. So, the real issue was staying warm. We were dressed for it, but it would have been nice to have a heater of some sort.



We did have snow to contend with on the ramp, but the boat went in/out no problem once we got the snow/ice out of the way. We got a bag of that "ice melt"/"heat in a bag" stuff, not just rock salt. A shovel would have really made the whole process painless. We used a 2x8 board and scraped the snow out of the way in a path wide enough to get the truck/trailer down the ramp.



The three of us do a lot of fishing together and we make a good team. Skinner is very "resourceful" and we have worked our way out of plenty of interesting situations in our adventures. Ben (nephew) is a trooper... He loves to fish and it takes a lot for him to complain (pretty much doesn't). Together, we try to keep our heads screwed on straight and make the best of it. The result, has been a lot of fun on the water over the years!
 

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Great job on the Walleye, 10+ pound fish ar not uncommon at Muskegon but, it is a bit tougher geting over the 12 pound mark. I doubt 31" fish was at 12 pounds unless it had a Huge belly. Out of 110+ fish that I have loged fishing Muskegon only two have toped the 12 pound mark. Great job and a nice way to spend a snowey night.
 

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Great fish and great story to go with it!! I have to give you die hards credit...thats some extreme fishing there!!! You can always get a graphite mount with your measurements!!
 

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Hey chad....Nice Fish!.....funny looking Muskie..LOL ;)
Your having a great year monster fish from the ottawa and the hundred fish mark at muskie INC, now big walleyes...Congrats :) :fish: :fish:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks Todd! It has been a great Fall. I may get Fittante to do a replica of the Walleye. I am very pleased with the Great Lakes Muskie he did for me from St. Clair. Still wrestling with getting the 53.5" Northern Strain Muskie done from the Ottawa.

Given the relatively few days I spend each year walleye fishing, I don't think I will beet the 31 any time soon. Of course, I could always hook a piggy while muskie fishing. ;)
 

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Nice job guys. I have seen a few nights like that out there myself. Glad you guys did well and made it out alive. Great pix and story.
 

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MMMmmm Scooby Snacks RULE!
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Stein indeed said it BEST Chadster!
"did well & made it out ALIVE"
THAT is how adventure should be. I think my Wife worries about me sometimes B/C she knows I've had a good life so far , and any that may be the last day will come & go with NO REGRETS. I do 'questionable' things at times as well!
;)
Only YOU can decide what is a 'trophy' and nobody can rip on you if you mount a ten pounder. To me the trophies I like best are less than about 20 inches... they taste the best! So many folks are into bigger , badder , harder , faster... I'm not , but I still tip my hat to you guys!
:cool:
If anyone ever says that you guys' timing is few degrees off top dead center...
:lol:
Tell them at least your engine is running!
:evilsmile
Whack 'Em & Stack 'Em!!


Robert
 
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