Recently, I tried my hand at one of Calhoun
County’s most frustrating outdoor activities: musky (or muskie) fishing.
Calhoun County is blessed to have some of the best musky fishing in the
The Little Kanawha River and its tributaries
contain West Virginia’s most dominant predator; however, this is the
fish of a thousand casts. Some days you will believe they are extinct.
Other days you may be rewarded with a glimpse of a muskie behind your
bait, or better yet a fish in hand.
West Virginia law states that a musky must be 30
inches to be kept by a fisherman. A 30-inch musky is roughly four or
five years old and just reaching the age to reproduce. The daily limit
is two muskies.
Like humans, at a certain age, muskies tend to grow
at the waist more than height, or in a fish's case, length. Most male
muskies do not attain 40 inches. Your 40-inch muskies are usually a
female. Either way, a 40-inch fish is probably 10 years old. At this
time, they tend to pack on the pounds, but stop getting longer. The
state record muskie is almost 50 pounds and over 50 inches long.
Fortunately, muskies tend to bite well during the
winter. Most of Calhoun County’s fishermen either cast large imitation
baits or use huge live bait. Either way catches fish. Usually, the
bigger the bait, the better the results. Crankbaits reach 10 inches or
more and its not uncommon to use live suckers over a foot long.
Live bait is usually caught out of our small creeks
with a minnow trap baited with bread or dog food. Live bait can also be
caught via rod and reel. It is important to note than game fish can be
used as bait for muskies, as long as they are taken by rod and reel. In
other words: yes, rock bass and smallmouth can be used as bait. They
must be caught by rod and reel and in accordance with game law
regulations, such as limits. This live bait is free spooled on the
bottom or hovered under a large bobber.
Artificial baits, such as large rapalas, cranes,
jones, or cobbs that imitate minnows, work well. Also, in-line spinners
account for many a musky. I have started using large plastic grubs and
Regardless of what bait is used, you will need a
leader to keep the muskys’ teeth or gill plate from cutting your line.
Most fishing lines will be 20-lb. test or higher. You would not want to
fish for hours only to have a musky break your line. Don’t forget a
stout rod and durable reel with a correct drag setting.
Good luck and please release your catch for others
to enjoy. Send your musky “tales” to
Note: Cory is the son of Ronzel and Karen Boothe of Russett. He is a
1996 graduate of Calhoun County High School and is a teacher at Meadow
Bridge Elementary, Fayette County. He resides near Summersville.)