We all need some an escape from our daily routine, even if that routine involves fly fishing for trout in the beautiful northeast. Trout fishing is my life and my livelihood. I teach fly fishing skills for trout at Pennsylvania State University and spend most of my free time conducting onstream lessons for trout. If forced to decide upon fishing for only one species for the rest of my life, trout would be my immediate choice. You can say I may be trout-obsessed, but even the most fanatical trout anglers need an escape from the routine of chasing wild and native trout in beautiful locations.
I look at trout fishing as my true love, and as Gabby Reese (wife/partner of big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton) puts it, “everyone needs a fling.” For Laird, that means chasing big waves. For me, that means chasing the elusive musky on the fly. I don’t look at it as cheating on my beloved trout. It’s more of a short-term separation from trout, which will do nothing but increase my appreciation for fish with spots.
Maybe what I enjoy most about fishing for musky is the unpredictable nature of these fickle creatures. While it can be said that all fishing can be unpredictable, there’s a higher-level element of the unknown when targeting musky on the fly. With trout, I feel there’s times when I can pretend to be Babe Ruth calling out my shot, as I accurately predict where and when I’ll catch my next fish. Granted, it doesn’t happen often. But it can occur during our peak spring season. As for musky, I would never feel comfortable calling my next musky shot, even during the best of conditions while fishing the best locations. With musky, the only guarantee is knowing you’re going to put forth your best effort, try to be a strategic as possible and hope for the best.
My musky season begins when our trout begin spawning, often starting early November. Not only is it a welcome break from trout, it’s also an intentional decision to give our wild and native trout some space while they attempt to pass on their genes to the next generation. By the middle of March, I’ve developed golfers’ elbow and our musky population begins its reproductive cycle. My winter fling comes to an end, and I’m more than happy to pick up my trout rod again and rekindle the old flame.
George Daniel considers himself a teacher first and a fly fisher second. He has authored three best selling fly fishing books and has authored dozens of articles for national fly fishing publications, including Fly Fisherman Magazine. He continues to travel the county conducting lessons and workshops for private groups, corporations, and conservation organizations. George is a former Fly Fishing Team USA competitor and captain. He’s a brand ambassador for a number of fly fishing companies. George is currently the Director of the Joe Humphreys Fly Fishing Program at the Pennsylvania State University. George currently lives on an old farm homestead with his wife, two children, and boykin spaniel.