The fish is suspended in full view. It is motionless, is not blinking and is seemingly without care. Its menacing teeth are visible, exposed on the business end of a torpedo-shaped body, and just enough to show that, if given the opportunity, it would dispatch with any nearby fish or game of lesser size without prejudice. It is exactly what I’d hoped to see of the apex predator of freshwater game fish, the muskellunge. It’s just that I didn’t anticipate seeing it through a plate of tempered glass.
“I built this aquarium for 26,000 bucks,” says Rick Krueger, “just so I could watch these stupid fish from my office.” Krueger is the owner of Guide’s Choice Pro Shop in eagle River, Wisconsin, and living proof of the effect muskies have on the people who chase them. He keeps a few muskies in the tank and feeds them live suckers for show. It’s a good place to stop for this mission.
I’ve had it in my head to catch a muskie for some time. But I’ve faced two obstacles. One, I live near New York City and do most of my fishing in salt water. Two, you don’t just go out and catch a muskellunge. you earn it. They are called the fish of 10,000 casts. It takes the average angler about 60 hours of hard fishing to catch a single muskellunge. That’s five 12-hour days. I’ve given myself three to get this done.