If fly fishing for trout or pan-fish has become a bit tame, there's a new challenge for fly fishermen that promises excitement and a big fight. Fly fishing for musky - the largest member of the pike family of fish - is growing in popularity after being introduced in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest.
Musky are an aggressive fish that can be 28 to more than 40 inches in length and can weigh up to 40 pounds, presenting a unique fly-fishing challenge.
On March 24 near McMinnville, Tenn., the inaugural Musky Fly Fishing World Championship Tournament will be held on the Caney Fork and Collins rivers. Todd Gregory, owner of the tournament sponsor Towee Boats in McMinnville, says that until recently it was considered impossible to catch musky using a fly rig.
"Fly fishing these days has begun attracting a younger fisherman looking for more of a challenge in their fishing," he says. "Probably the most difficult thing you can catch on a fly rod in freshwater is a musky."
Gregory says that Brad Bohen of Musky Country Outfitters in Wisconsin is responsible for bringing musky fly fishing more into the mainstream. Bohen, the current world record holder for catching musky on a fly rod, is featured in the awardwinning film "Zero 2 Hero," which shows him and other anglers catching the large musky on fly rigs.
Fifty anglers from 13 states and Canada are registered for the Musky Fly Fishing World Championships, which will be run out of McMinnville and will include all of the rivers and tributaries above the Rock Island Dam on the Caney Fork River.
Anglers will compete based on total length of the fish they catch in the tournament. Gregory says the tournament , which i s a catch-and-release event that will alternate yearly between a northern site and southern waters such as McMinnville, is more about protecting the habitat of the fish so that more anglers can discover the excitement of catching musky "It's more of an event," Gregory says. "It's just as much about everyone getting together and raising money for musky conservation. That's as important as who wins, if not more so.
SCHOOL OF FISH
Chattanooga State Technical Community College will be offering the Introduction to Fly Fishing class as part of its continuing education offerings starting in March. The class will be held each Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon beginning March 24 and running through April 14. Robert Prytula of the Southeastern Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers will teach the class. Participants will learn about the equipment that is needed for fly fishing, stream tactics and proper casting and fly presentation. The cost for the class is $89, and more information can be found at www.chattanoogastate.edu/continuinged