My last fishing day in October on Cave Run Lake

BY Chris Erwin

If you have been following this series on Cave Run Lake, you know that last week, I told you about us finely finding the Muskie on Cave Run Lake in the deep channel bends of Licking River, resulting in my son catching a 43 incher on a small crankbait.
That was on Friday, and we had one more fishing day left, and Saturday would be my last chance to catch a keeper Muskie on this trip. There is an old saying taught to me back in my tournament days “never leave a place you are catching fish.”

– Author Chris Erwin holding a 40 inch Muskie caught on Cave Run Lake the last day of his 10-day trip, as always the fish was released alive and in good shape (Photo by Scott Erwin)

With that in mind, Saturday would find us back up the river fishing every deep channel bend in the river. One of the reasons we believe this was the place to catch fish was the fact the water was still so warm. In the river, the water temperature was about 68 degrees. However, on the flats and even in many of the creek-heads, the water temps were still in the low 70’s. Usually, this time of the year, the temperature is more like 60. We believe that is why the big fish just haven’t mover to where they should be.

With that in mind, we threw spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwater baits in every bend in the river. While this was working to catch bass, we still went three hours without a strike from a Muskie. After three hours of fishing, we still had no Muskie to even follow our bait. So we took a break and pulled to the bank and had lunch. The bluebird skies were starting to fade as the even clouds were beginning to take the sky over. The cool breeze forces us to put our sweatshirts on.

We had about two hours left of fishing; we had to get out of the dangerous part of the river while we could still see to maneuver around the stumps. With this in mind, we said we would fish through the next bend, then we would head out and maybe fish somewhere close to the camp until dark.

As we got into the deepest part of the bend only a few hundred yards from where Scott caught his fish, a Muskie took a swipe at Scott’s lure as he lifted it out of the water. We did a figure eight with our rods, all around the boat, hoping to get the fish to take another look at the bait, but it appeared she was gone.

I switched rods to the same bait Scott was throwing, that same small crankbait that he had caught the last Muskie on. I suggested we cut a circle and make another pass where the Muskie had shown herself. This was an area where huge limestone rocks lined the bank, and the channel trees were to our backs as we were dead in the channel.

Once we made it to the same area where the fish was, I got a thunderous strike nearly jerking the rod out of my hand. The fish went straight down, engaging my drag and stripping some line. Experience has taught me not to fight these fish. I just held on and tried to make sure the fish didn’t get in the trees. I could feel her thumping the rod, trying to dive even deeper. Scott was up and standing with the dip net as we both want to at least get a look at the fish. Then I could feel her starting up, and I began to reel very slowly. I turned to Scott and said, “She is coming up.” We stood there like a couple dogs on point waiting as the fish boiled to the surface. I turned the fish, so her head was to us, and Scott slipped the net under her. He lifted the fish in the boat. It was my turn to hold the fish, she measured right at 40 inches three inches smaller than Scott’s fish, but I was tickled to catch her, making my trip everything I hoped it would be. ( note: Muskie over 36 inches in Cave Run Lake are all female, the male Muskie die in this lake from five to seven years of age making them under 36 inches) Until next time kept your lines wet and take a kid fishing.

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