Canada Musky School Produces 134 Fish
Christian Birkrem’s plan was simple, yet effective. “I put on a bucktail and didn’t take it off,” he explained when asked how he caught his fish at the University of Esox Canada Musky Adventure school on Lake of the Woods.
Birkrem, of Lake Mills, Wisconsin, boated 15 muskies to win the school’s Top ’Lunge Award, which is presented to the angler who catches the most muskies during the week-long event. Only three other students have ever caught more muskies in a week in the 18-year history of the Canada Musky Adventure school.
Birkrem, who was attending his third Canada Musky Adventure school, used Mepps H210 spinners in either silver-and-black or black-and-black patterns, and his largest fish for the week measured 47 inches.
“I had an incredible boat partner who never wanted to stray from our pattern of minnowbait and bucktail,” Birkrem continued. “We searched all over the place and did use quite a bit of gas. The facts are I just paid attention to all of the things you guys talked about at the past schools I had been to, as well as this one. Boat control was the biggest factor for catching those fish.”
Twenty-four students from nine states and Ontario attended the annual school, which was held July 18-25 at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp. They combined with University of Esox staff to catch 134 muskies.
“We enjoyed a terrific week,” said Musky Hunter Editor and TV show host Jim Saric, who emceed the event. “We had to cope with some wind early in the week, but our students fished through it and worked together to catch some very nice fish.”
Marty Forman of Mequon, Wisconsin, boated the largest musky of the event by a student, a 50-incher on a bucktail.
Another highlight of the week was the 2,500th musky caught at a University of Esox event. It was taken by Ken McAfee of Lisle, Illinois, and measured 39 1/2 inches long.
The largest musky of the event was a 50 1/2-incher caught by MHM Field Editor Spence Petros, who was working as an instructor. Petros caught his fish on a TopRaider.
A total of 19 muskies that measured at least 45 inches were caught, and 61 were at least 40 inches long. At least 45 of the muskies were caught boatside in figure-8’s. Others catching muskies of 45 inches or more included: Rob Kivela of Marquette, Michigan, 49 1/2 inches (personal best) on a Bucher Mag Tinsel and 45 inches on a topwater; Lindsay England-Boychuk of Kenora, Ontario, 49 inches (personal best) on a ShallowRaider; lodge owner Bill Sandy, 48 and 45 inches on bucktails; instructor Kevin Schmidt, 48 and 46 inches on a Slammer Minnow; Jeremy Sivis of Pittsboro, Indiana, 47 inches (personal best) on a bucktail; John Vieu of Chicago, 47 inches on a Mepps Double Blade Musky Marabou; Petros, 47 inches on a TopRaider; Gillis Ashley of Richmond, Kentucky, 46 1/4 inches (personal best) on a topwater; Lee Bregitzer of Littleton, Colorado, 45 1/2 inches (personal best) on a bucktail; Jamie Boychuk of Kenora, Ontario, 45 1/2 inches on a Double Cowgirl; Saric, 45 inches on a Double Cowgirl; Charlie Peth of Wausau, Wisconsin, 45 inches on a Double Cowgirl; and MHM Managing Editor Steve Heiting, 45 inches on a Mepps H210.
A number of other students had notable catches. Tim Lange of Waunakee, Wisconsin, caught his personal best musky of 42 inches while his son Joe Lange caught his first musky and later his personal best of 35 inches; Michelle Olson of Big Lake, Minnesota, caught her first musky and later her personal best of 40 inches; and Willy Todd of Marquette, Michigan, caught his personal best fish of 39 inches.
“We found it was a matter of fishing until you found a biting musky because patterns were all over the board,” said Heiting. “We caught muskies from rocks, weeds, trees and sand, in the wind and out. This resulted in our students learning how to catch muskies from a variety of spots, which wouldn’t have happened if only one pattern was in place.”
Students and staff enjoyed one of the more productive days in University of Esox history on Thursday of the week when 34 muskies were boated.
The school was held for the eighth consecutive year at Sandy’s Blackhawk Island, located on LOTW’s Northwest Angle. “Bill and Cindy Sandy and their families provide a terrific resort experience for our students,” noted Saric. “The cabins are awesome, the food delicious, and the service is second to none. It’s an easy decision for us to return each year to their resort.”
The 2016 Canada Musky Adventure will be held July 16-23. Watch Musky Hunter for details.
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