Thankful Outdoors: Muskie Scorecard and Changing Colors

Muskies - Photos by April Revels and Cindy See

Thankful Outdoors: Outdoor Journal Week of September 13th through September 19th

September 13th – Quick bird hunt with Boone

Sunday evening Connor and I decided to throw our blaze orange hats and vests on and get Boone out in the woods. We went to McMillan Swamp to see if we could find any grouse. It’s been a challenge to locate these birds of fall.

As we left the truck and started to walk the brush with Boone in the lead, I didn’t have real high hopes of finding birds. As I told Connor, it doesn’t matter if we see birds; it’s a beautiful day for a walk in the woods. Boone is always happy running in the woods; as I listened to his bell jingle attached to his collar in his search for the birds, I couldn’t help but feel bad for the dog. He works hard, and we just couldn’t find a bird at all for his efforts.

Today’s outing did just turn out to be that a walk in the woods. Boone got his exercise for the day, and Connor and I enjoyed a peaceful stroll in the slightly changing colors of the woods.

September 14th through September 17th – Prepping for Muskie Weekend

The rest of the week I spent getting ready for the upcoming weekend. The evenings were spent sharpening hooks, replacing worn-out hooks, adding paint to worn out lures, and building tackle boxes.

Two memories stirred inside me as I worked on the lures. As I dabbed red lure paint on the lures, it brought back childhood memories of when Dad would take the family to the old boy scout camp area on the dead-end road off Highway P.

I always chuckle about the one time we were walking the edge of a field, and a colony of army ants attacked the family. As I write this, I can feel the sting of those little buggers! Those outings on the river were spent wading the river casting floating Rapalas. Dad would have us take Mom’s red nail polish and swipe stripes on his beat-up black and gold Rapalas. That little bit of red striping seemed to spark a more aggressive bite from the bass.

The other memory when I work on lures takes me back to Grandpa Hopperdietzel. He was always tinkering with something fishing related. He would spend hours in the basement at their home in Abbotsford, WI pouring jig heads and tying blue colored bucktail to his homemade jigs. I can only hope that Grandpa smiles down from Heaven as he watches me mess around with lures.

I also spent hours studying lake maps located in my Sportsmans Connection Muskie Fishing Map Guide. The body of water that I would be fishing is a massive chain of lakes with many opportunities to catch a fish. I also spent time studying fishing hotspots on a more modern method by downloading an app on my phone called Fishidy. I was writing notes about locations to try and lures to use. I chuckled at myself as I prepared for this week feeling like I was trying to put together a plan to hunt a big buck, but instead, I was trying to put together a plan of trying to boat a muskie or two.

September 18th and September 19th – Muskie Camp

For the last several fall seasons, Jeff and April have invited me to join them on their fall vacation. We have fished a few different lakes over the years. This year we were going to the Three Lakes Chain, located near Three Lakes, WI.

Jeff and April had decided that they would take two weeks of vacation time and fish this chain. During that time, they had several guests stop in camp. The biggest group was going to be the second week of camp. My timing in the camp was bittersweet because I was going to miss spending time with a friend made from last year’s camp. Bill and Mary were able to make the camp during the first week. Bill is a great storyteller and has one of those laughs that just makes a whole room laugh. Great guy and I was sad that I would miss spending time with him this year.

Three Lakes/Photo by April Revels

But I also was going to meet a group of new people this year. Jim, Cindy, Patrick, and Tyler were going to be guests in camp during the time Roberta and I would be there. I had heard stories from Jeff over the years about this group of friends and looked forward to meeting them. That group all arrived in camp Thursday.

Roberta and I rolled into camp and met Patrick and Tyler; they were busy working on trailer winch repair as we showed up. We exchanged handshakes, and right away, the first impression of these guys was what a couple of nice guys to spend the next couple of days in camp.

Roberta and I hit the water and started out fishing for panfish, and as it neared the 4 pm time, we started to cast for muskie. After casting the edge of massive weed beds in 8 to 10 feet of water in a large bay, we decided it would be best to try to troll to see if we could locate some muskie.

As we got towards the north end of Long Lake, we started to enter a channel that soon dropped into 3 to 5 feet. The reports had been that fish seemed to be active in shallow water, so I thought maybe we would have a chance in this shallower water.

Trolling the northmost bay, I ran out of water to troll, and there was the far shoreline that still needed to be worked, so I spun the boat around. I hadn’t been watching to see what Roberta was doing. It turns out she had left her lure troll in the water a couple of feet off the back of the boat. As soon as I had pointed the boat towards the other shoreline, I heard commotion off to my left and turned to see a muskie was thrashing around at the end of Roberta’s pole.

Roberta with her 28-inch muskie

I grabbed the net and gave instructions to Roberta to swoop her rod tip towards the front of the boat so that I could scoop her first-ever muskie into the net. I’m not sure who was more shocked about what just had happened, me, Roberta, or that muskie!

We snapped several photos of her 28-inch muskie; I laid him back into the water and pumped water through his gills several times as he silently glided back into the depths of the weed bed.

As far as any more muskie action in our boat, we had none; the rest of camp had done alright in their adventures with Jim and Cindy having the most action. They had landed two muskies, one of which had left a tooth in Jim’s hand as he was handling the 45-inch trophy.

Muskie Scorecard:

Jeff = 0                         Roberta = 1

April = 0                        Scott = 0

Jim = 1                          Bill = 0

Cindy = 2                      Mary = 0

Patrick = 1                    Tyler = 1

Photo by April Revels

If you ever have a chance to be in camp with Jeff and April, there is one thing you have to bring, and it’s your appetite! Not only are the meals that they prepare for their guest amazing the proportions in servings are ridiculous. You always walk away from the table with a belly so full that you hate yourself.

In closing, I hope you find a way to get into the outdoors, create your adventure and memories, but most importantly, find a way to “Celebrate the Experience.” Go check out www.thankfuloutdoors.com for more content and share your “Celebrate the Experience” moment with us!

We welcome your stories! Contact us at [email protected]!

Scott Hopperdietzel
Author: Scott Hopperdietzel

Scott Hopperdietzel is the creator of an outdoor blog named Thankful Outdoors. He shares his passion for the outdoors with readers. The focus of the blog is to “Celebrate the Experience” in his stories; you feel what the connection to the outdoors means to him. His goal is to inspire others to get into the outdoors and create their own experience. Along with writing, he is a father to three boys who are often part of the adventures along with the family Weimaraner, Boone. You can find his writings on the website www.thankfuloutdoors.com or follow his social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.