Veterans of the River: Pike and Muskellunge Always Full of Courage and Cunning, Daily Racing Form, 1919-02-23


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t r I s 1 a t a , 1 r r i , ; , , , , r , VETERANS OF THE RIVER Pike and Muskellunge Always Full of Courage and Cunning. AVarrlors of the liily Parts anil White Waters anil Their Tricks. There is a land where the trees of great girth, where the leaves blush beneath the passion of the autumns "anil drift away from the parent stem to windrow the thickets and the deep coves, where there is the fragrance of the red clover and the timothy and the tall whispering orchard grasses every June to detach themselves from the old wind- liig rail fences and neglected gardens on some abandoned pastures, where there are long, sweeping bottom lands and ridge lands of meadow and pasture, where there are farm houses resting peacefully in sheltered coves and in little woodland valleys" and mirroring their barns and spring houses in the complacency of the mill ponds or fording pools, where there are steep and wild crags and cliffs with gorges and clefts cool beneath the shadows of pine and poplar, where there are giant white oak and red maple and sugar everywhere flaunting their invitations to the searcher after good things, there are all these tilings, and also there is more. There is from this land a call that sounds high "aboVe the clear notes of the kingfishers wrang- ling in the willow clumps and reaches out from the banks of the streams, into the villages, the towns, and to the cities, from where the shining trails of steel winds eventually into the shadows of these things of which I speak. Anglers listen to this voice and reverently bow their acceptance. It is the king of all tlieir efforts pleading for tlieir" presence. It is the intangible message of the fresh waters. that shelters,: the giant and most lovable of their kind, the noble pikes. PIKE AND MUSKIES IN OHIO RIVER. Taking the western foothills of the Allegheny Mountains as a source we might follow the drainage system of the Ohio River. A somewhat large scope .of country is embraced in this consideration, an4 also it can be truthfully said that a somewhat large and interesting variety of fish might be mentioned as characteristic of the many rivers and small streams that serve to constitute this important stream of our country. The Ohio River drainage system, has in the last few years, speaking gener-. ally. . achieved not a little bit of honor among the angling fraternity as being the home of that most esteemed of fresh water game fisliT the muskellunge. Tills variety of the Esox family has without a doubt been a native of this particular section of the country for an indefinite period of years, but until recent years has claimed no special attention. : Old fishermen inform me that this fish that we are now taking from the feeders of the "La Belle. ! Riviere" are the same species that were so- often taken in the early days of angling, only as they 1 will insist they were nothing more then than "pike." Now, though, that the modem angler with his better understanding of the various individuals of the pike family has come to understand that this particular kind of fish so often taken from the streams is the genuine Esox Masqulnongy, we do not hear so many captives as being that ol I the pike. Not but what there are some pike taken from these waters, but that they are sadly in the i minority now in comparison with the other and i larger variety. Where there is one pike, or Esox Lucius, taken 1 now there is at the least a dozen of the muskellunge landed. Indeed, the genuine pike is by far the rarer fish of the two. This, though, does not prevent the older and more biased fishermen from classifying their catches under the old term. 1 have seen some of the finest specimens of this fish, the muskle, that the owner would almost work i himself into fury in arguing that it was nothing of the sort. This is mostly from the fact that a great many of the anglers are as yet not thoroughly acquainted with the more modern classification, and they are still laboring under the impression that the pike is by far the more worthy term for their captive. MUSKELLUNGE FAR OUTNUMBER PIKE. In the community where 1 confined my angling efforts last year I knew personally of a dozen muskies being hooked and landed. Against this number there were two pike, taken. And in the preceding season out of nearly a score of the larger . and more modern fellows there was not one single specimen of the Esox Lucius taken so far as I can be informed. This leads me to believe that the muskellunge is not by any means a new arrival in the waters of the Ohio River system, but that lie has rather been laboring under the handicap of i misrepresentation; that he has always been as much a fixture in these waters as his more favored brother the pike. Yet in strict denial of this there are others who will claim that the muskie is a for- ; eigner to these parts, and that by some trick ol propagation or chance has been transplanted here. But be that as it may, there is the point that all will agree upon thoroughly, and that is, that be i the scrappy old fellow pike or muskie he is with- 1 out any shadow of a doubt the best proposition in i the way of husky, flat trajectory, devilishness that i ever bent a red tip or smashed a wooden bait. Several times in the past I have seen this local fish treated upon by those who were supposed to be authoritative upon such subjects, and was almost driven to instigation of suit for slander against these same gentlemen. One in particular that I re- j call dwelt at great length upon the method of capture, and I want, to say here that the method lie , outlined as being practiced in general was enough to convict that certain writer as a criminal in the , eyes of any admirer of the noble old battler of the inland waters. This article to which I have refer- , ence stilted that the general method of capture was . to attach a large minnow as bait and then still i fish for your victim. Possibly at one day of the world that was the accepted formula for taking , the game fellow from his environments, but if one j wishes to have any such tame and unexciting system , of procedure banished from his imagination all that ! will be necessary for him to do will be to take a canoe or boat trip down some of the waterways that , are charted as muskie territory some bright week f in the fall, when the leaves in the hardwood forests, j that will line the bluffs and ridges that border the winding streamside, are all the colors of a painters i pallette, when there is a feint blur on the far horizon that marks the hill countries, and when over t the wide cornfields and meadows and swamp lands " there is a veil of the daintiest kind of mauve, when there is in the early morning air more than a hint , of frosty nights and at noonday a crisp tang of the ripening leaves on the hillsides, when, in fact, there "is just the proper sort of weather for the : fisherman who goes astream for this old warrior of the lily pads on hand. All along your route you find plenty of signs that brother muskie is not J in any sense of the word an unknown factor in the , lives of a great majority of the angling fraternity. , There will be more than an occasional boat with its J determined and well-equipped crew here and there, I and in fact on most every pool tiiat lias gained its fame as being a "good one" will there be anywhere from one to a small flotilla of active disciples of f Father Walton. J FISH ALWAYS EAGER FOR FRAY. And now, furthermore, let me say with all due v regards to the gentlemen who labor under the be- s lief that this old gamester is taken in the same o manner as a mud cat would be inveigled for, that f one look-see over the lads who are handing the persuasive stuff to. these old men of the river will n convince anyone that fishing for muskies that is, a fishing with an idea of catching something in the a ;t way of a sizable catch is not in any sense of the a word a lazy mans job. c The great per cent of the fishermen all use the e artificial troll or bait as a means of interesting v the antagonistic rulers of the pools. Casting with a a short rod and trolling from the rear of a boat or canoe are the two methods most commonly used, t There is that about the artificial bait with all its t action and variety of color that serves to excite t the ugly-tempered fellows animosity and fierceness, f He is naturally an autocratic and domineering in- p dividual, and the presence of anything that in the least resembles an intruder into his domain will d result in his dashing forth wickedly from his con- a cealment and attempting to destroy the thing. That o or is what the expert muskie fisherman soon learns a as and. accordingly, ho plays to the old gentlemans t weakness, with the result that there soon might o be said that there is a shrinkage in the population tl of a certain favored pool. n There has been recently quite a bit of controversy ii it over the two methods of fishing for the muskie; n that is, as to which is the more effective. Person- ti to al-, I cannot help but see that the trolling method c is by far the more effective as well as having the I advantage of being less strenuous labor. Of course, s so far ns the labor is concerned well, there is ei bound to be a certain amount of that connected with any part of the pastime if one expects to derive u any good results, but I really feel that ia rowing h is a Ioat or paddling a canoe there is not the ex- a a hiiustive grind there is to casting a bait from sun ,1 to sun, day in and day out; there is a certain h amount of ease in working a good fishing boat, fj j , , , . i , j , ! , f j i t " , : J , , J I f J v s o f n a a ;t a c e v a t t t f p d a o or a as t o tl n ii it n ti to c I s ei u h is a a ,1 h fj whereas in casting it is about the same husky labor any way you .can work iu For trolling purposes I like a flat-bottomed boat, one preferably with a square stern; or better, with both ends blunt and slishtly curved, this square stern allowing one a good place to rest the rod while working the boat. It is a question us to which is the best direction to work ones troll, up stream or down. I have caught fish going either way, therefore I do not consider that its of any importance. The main thing is to keep on the move iind, when not moving, then for a change go in for the casting game; both methods work well together and they serve to vary the labor. Have a good, reliable rod, preferably a bamboo not over five feet in length, as the longer rod is always getting in trouble in working coves and about roots and log drifts, and a good reel with eighty to a hundred yards of heavy silk line. That constitutes the tackle, or rather the main part of the tackle. Let the rod rest on the thwart nearest vou and the tip extend just over the end of the boat. When starting your troll, cast the lure toward that part of the stream where one knows there is a good depth of water in the same manner as in casting the bait, then "lay the rod in its position with the click off and commence working the boat or canoe in whatever direction you wish to fish slowly until you have out from fifty to eighty feet of line: this should be enough for the average stream. Sometimes less will liook your fish, but I prefer not less than eighty feet of line out. Work the boat into all the favorable looking places, close along the shores, just nipping the edges of the weed strips through fields of lily pads, about old stumps and log drifts, near the shores of steen gravelly slopes where the vater falls away to good denths. In all such places the old man muskie will be found lurking, as well as over submerged bowlder drifts and underwater log and brush piles. In trolling it is best not to rush the thing, just keep the lure free from the bottom and the results will be best. In crossing over shallows and across slightly submerged log drifts, speed up the course of the boat; this will bring the bait nearer the surface and prevent fouling of the tackle on snags. When ones fish does hit a lure that is being manipulated at the rear end of a moving boat and at the end of an eighty-foot line, there occurs such shock, a thrill, as will not soon be forgotten. Let an old warrior of a muskie raid you under those conditions when you are not expecting anything r. t,1",kI"1 a,ld u is :l saf I that for a little while there will be more than a little commotion about in the neighborhood of the old rod. The strong points that I see in trolling, the ones that make it a better system of fishing for this tiger fish- the muskellunge of the inland rivers is the fact that one can more thoroughly cover his fishing territory than by casting and at less expenditure of energy. Bait casting for the muskellunge and the pike does not necessarily mean confining oneself to the artificial lures that are so prevalent. The natural live baits are at most any season of the vear good a bet as one could expect. But one thing that every man who goes forth after that mightv old aristocrat of the rivers should bear in mind is that the muskie waits his bait, moving, and the nearer the surface the lure works the more enticing will he to this pugnacious old chap. Keep the muskie directly on the surface and if there happens be one of the gentlemen loafing alwut in concealment he will dash out and sample your offering. The artificial will work equally well deep or as a surface lure. In respect to artificials he is not erratic, but one safe plan is to thrash around and not to fear making a fuss or disturbing the fish. He is the kind that delights in disturbances, and especially apt at displaying his ability to conduct fight witli the odds against him. In fact, the dear old fellows, be they pike or muskies, are my ideals of all that is game and vicious in tho way of fish.

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