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Guide Jeff Hanson with a 52" muskie.
Guide Jeff Hanson with a 52" muskie. / Submitted by Gary Engberg
Guide Steve Reinstra with a muskie. / Submitted by Gary Engberg

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Fishing is a sport that people can enjoy for most of their lives especially if they are introduced to the sport at any early age. Children, hopefully, begin fishing at a young age and learn that fishing is fun and something that they can do about anywhere they live in the country.

There are fishing opportunities in every area of the United States, though the species fished for and the kind of fishing varies from state to state. The important thing for getting children involved in fishing is to have them catch fish and this doesn’t make any difference what species of fish as long as they have something tugging on their line.

Panfish, rough fish, and gamefish help heighten their excitement and get them “hooked on fishing.” As they grow older, they find that they enjoy catching one or two species of fish over another. But, if you ask anglers what they like to fish for the answer that you’ll get is that many people fish for “anything that bites.” Many anglers find different fish species are more challenging and harder to catch or they may be fishing for fish that taste good in the frying pan.

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Wisconsin and much of the south-central area are lucky enough to have numerous lakes that contain the top predator fish, the muskie. The Wisconsin DNR has done a good job in stocking muskies in lakes where they have difficulty reproducing on their own. So, that is why many lakes get muskies that are raised and stocked by the DNR. Locally, the Madison Chain of Lakes has been stocked with the Wisconsin strain of muskies for years and they are now doing a comparison study with the Minnesota Leech Lake strain of muskies to see which is the more economical strain to raise and which muskie does better in our lakes. This study on the Madison Chain has been going on for six or seven years, but it will take more time for concrete results.

Lakes with muskies are also divided into different classifications depending on the waters angling quality. There are Class A waters which are the state’s premier muskie waters and are also broken down into two categories. Class A1 are trophy waters with the ability to produce large fish. There may not be an abundance of muskies, but those present are large fish. Class A2 waters provide the most consistent muskie action and can produce large fish while having the best muskie numbers. There is also Class B waters that produce good muskie fishing, but less than Class A waters. Then, there are Class C water that have muskies, but in much smaller numbers. Wisconsin has 667 lakes that are classified as muskie waters and 47% or 316 are classified as Class A waters while the rest are either Class B or C.

Muskie waters are also classified by their ability to naturally reproduce muskies. Category 1 waters are self-sustaining naturally with no stocking. Category 2 waters have some natural reproduction, but muskies are also stocked to help supplement natural reproduction. Category 3 waters have no natural reproduction and stocking must be done to maintain the population. Category 0 waters have no reproduction and no stocking. Muskies may be present because they are connected to other waters where muskies are present. About 45% of Wisconsin lakes receive some muskie stocking.

I thought I’d give you a little background on this magnificent fish before I tell you about the 12th Annual Intermediate and Advanced Muskie School that the Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc. puts on every spring at Waunakee High School in Waunakee, Wisconsin. This year’s school will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

If you have muskie fished or decided that the muskie is your fish that you’re going to concentrate your fishing efforts on then this is the event that you must attend. This all-day training opportunity is like nothing that I’ve seen in the Midwest. Students that register for the school have their choice of many different classes to choose from with many never given before. The faculty or instructors are some of the best muskie anglers in the state.

The “Muskie School” has over 30 different and diverse classes which include; poolside demonstrations of different plastics, jigs, and crankbaits, the latest in sonar and marine electronics, muskie fishing basics for youth and adults, making your own wooden muskie baits, topwater muskies, muskie reel repair, muskie fishing at night, row trolling, muskie fishing on different waters in the state, river muskie fishing, motor trolling, muskie rod repair, preparing for new waters, fishing the Madison Chain, and the history of muskie fishing and how its evolved. This is just a sampling of the many classes that you may choice from at the school. Another highlight is the keynote presentation which the DNR’s Scot Stewart will give on “Minimizing Muskie Mortality” as we react to climate change. Both sides will be addressed to start the day off. You can learn more in this all-day school than you could in many years of muskie fishing on your own.

The school has a great staff which includes some of the Midwest’s top muskie fishermen like; Jeff Hanson, Steve Worral, Adam Oberfoell, Greg Fitch, Jim Olson, John Eversoll, Lee Tauchen, Steve Reinstra, Pat Durkin, Geoff Crandell, Duffy Kopf, Cory Steil, and Jim Stroede. This is a line-up that tough to beat. This faculty has over 500 years of combined muskie fishing experience.

To help promote youth fishing their tuition for the school is only $10. The National Association of Professional Anglers (NPAA) is donating 25 rod/reel combos for participants 12 years and younger. The early bird price for adults is $34 or $44 if registered after March 11, 2013. This is a great learning experience and well worth the price which also includes coffee and doughnuts and an excellent catered lunch. The doors open at 7:15 am and the school ends at 4 p.m. If you’ve muskie fished for years or are just getting started then this is the school that I’d highly recommend. The money spent is well worth it!

For more information go to www.capitalcitymuskiesinc.org or contact Geoff Crandall at crandall@msburg.com or Steve Reinstra at mpd339r@charter.net . The Capital City Chapter of Muskies, Inc. has 350 members and was started in 1983. They and other fishing clubs have donated over $30,000 to stocking area lakes and they also donate a scholarship every year to a qualified student from Waunakee High School.

Gary Engberg is a professional tournament angler, fishing guide, and writer. He began fishing tournaments in the early 1990’s and has fished the In-Fisherman Professional Walleye Trail (PWT), North American Walleye Association (NAWA), Masters Walleye Circuit (MWC), World Walleye Association (WWA), FLW, and Mercury Nationals in the years since. Gary has hosted the Outdoor Horizons radio show weekly for 14 years in Madison on WTDY 1670 AM and WTDY 106.7 FM Saturdays at 8:05 am. and is also a correspondent for the Wisconsin State Journal for the last 12 years. Visit http://www.garyengbergoutdoors.com for more from Gary Engberg.

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