More about St. Germain
Learn how to clean and fillet walleye, northern pike, bass,
bluegills and other panfish.
Greater Wisconsin Muskie Tournament Official Website
Far End of the Lake
Berghoff & Blues
Green Lake, WI
Green Co, WI
Are We There Yet?
The common name is Muskellunge – Musky
for short. The scientific name is: Esox masquinongy. The
Wisconsin DNR web site tells me that: “Esox comes from the old name
for pike in Europe, masquinongy
comes from the Cree ‘mashk’ meaning deformed and ‘kinonge’ is a pike.
A well deserved named, to be sure. The musky is one mean and
prehistoric looking fish. But for those of you that fish –
actually hunt would be a better way to describe the process – for musky,
I’m sure that you already know that.
In my position here at
On the Lake, I must admit to
being a bit envious when I see the excursions taken by R. Karl and Heidi.
But recently I had an incredible opportunity to see first hand what might
be described as Musky Fever. (I also admit that I may now be seriously
infected with it.) This time, Yvonne and I got to take the excursion… and
it is one that neither of us will soon forget.
I had heard about an event that was
going to be sponsored by Berghoff Beer. It was the 15th
Annual St. Germain, Greater Wisconsin Musky Tournament, and Berghoff was
the Tournament Sponsor for the second straight year. A contest was
held to become the official Berghoff Musky Hunter Team. And although
we didn’t win the contest, we were offered the opportunity to make the
trip to St. Germain as Berghoff's media team to cover the event. We have both
fished extensively for many years, but neither of us had fished Musky
we were both excited for the chance to give it a try.
We arrived in St. Germain on Friday
afternoon and checked in to the Black Bear Lodge
where they told us that we would be staying in a small cabin not far
away. We drove about two miles to the cabin. Called Cedaroma, it was
located about 30 feet from the shore of Little St. Germain Lake and the
view was marvelous. The early October day was cloudy, windy and freezing
cold, but inside the cabin a gas fireplace was ablaze and the knotty pine
interior was as warm as toast. We unpacked and headed over to a friend’s
cabin for a beer and talk of tomorrow’s hunt. By the time we were ready
to head out for dinner, both Yvonne and I were excited and ready to go
fishing. It was strange that the snow shower with which we were greeted
as we exited the cabin did not change our minds.
Dinner consisted of a tasty fish fry
at the Clearview Supper Club that overlooked Big St. Germain Lake. We
opted for the Bluegill, although both Perch and Cod were also on the
menu. Dinner with friends is always fun. Conversation was lively and I
got some good fishing tips as well as advice on how to stay warm. Before
we realized it, the time had come to get to work on our story and we
headed off to the Registration and Rules Meeting at the St. Germain
Community Center. We were amazed that there were 340 Musky hunters who
had entered the competition and it was easy to feel the excitement in the
room. Berghoff had donated a generous supply of their great Original
Lager beer and some of their creamy Blumer’s Root Beer. We joined the
other hunters and thirstily sipped the Berghoff products as we looked at
the prizes – some to be awarded now and some that were to be awarded at the
end of the tournament. This was a musky hunter’s dream. There were about a
half-dozen Minn-kota trolling motors, numerous fishing poles and reels,
paintings, artist prints and carvings, landing nets, lures, hats, gift
certificates and more. It was a Musky Hunter’s Christmas in October!
There were a total of 10 lakes that
were to be fished in the contest; we were going to fish on “Big Saint.”
We met our guide – Rob Manthei – at 8:00am and headed out to the lake. One could
easily sense the excitement and focus that Rob possessed. It was still cloudy and there was a pretty stiff wind as we headed out
across the water. The temperature was a chilly 380 and it felt
like about 00 to us. Armed with many layers of clothing and
both hand and toe warmers that kept us fairly warm throughout the morning,
we were certain that a musky would strike with every cast we threw using the heavy musky
rigs - stiff 7'6" St. Croix rods and Ambassador reels. Stopping for a quick lunch at a neat little
lakeside venue called Fibbers, we happened upon Gary Knowles, Assistant V.
P. and Larry Schneiberg, Sales Manager of Huber Brewery. Although we were
a bit dejected about not even having had a “follow”, Gary assured us that
he was not aware of any fish having been registered yet. We headed back
out onto the lake with hopes high.
Not far from shore and only a hundred
yards or so from Fibbers, Rob announced a follow. I spun around to see a
huge, dark brown form beneath the water approach the lure, then turn and glide effortlessly away
from the boat. Rob jammed his pole back into the water and immediately
began a vigorous and aggressive figure eight pattern with the lure. A
prehistoric monster emerged from out of nowhere and ferociously attacked
the bait. The fish was over 40” long and shook its head in anger as it
moved around the back end of the boat. I’ve had some pretty good action
from large northern pike, but this fish was like a northern on steroids
amphetamines. Ten seconds of his time was all that musky would allow. As
quickly as he had attacked, he shook the lure loose and disappeared. We fished for another
hour or two, but never even had another follow. We were beginning to
understand why this was called musky hunting.
Dinner that evening was at The Bear’s
Den of Black Bear Lodge. It was a sumptuous feast and perfect after a
long and chilly day on the water. As we supped on tender char-grilled
tuna with snow peas and Mahi-Mahi with a delicious cranberry cream sauce,
we shared stories of the day with Danny and Wendy – the Berghoff sponsored
Musky Hunter Team – and Berghoff execs Gary Knowles and Larry Schneiberg.
After dinner we stopped back at Fibbers for some Berghoff-sponsored prize
drawings, a Berghoff Oktoberfest beer and then headed home for some well
deserved sleep. We had one last chance to catch a musky tomorrow before
the tournament ended.
Scott Kaminsky was our guide on
Sunday. We met him at 8:00 am and headed back out onto the lake.
Although the early morning temperature was only in the 20’s, the sky was
clear and the morning sun began to quickly warm things up. His style was
a bit different but he was also a very knowledgeable
- especially about Big St. Germain and Muskies - and personable
guide. During the course of the morning, he
shared with us much of his expertise about Musky fishing. We headed for some shallower water and tried some slightly
different baits from those that we used yesterday. (Yesterday it was all
“stick” baits and today we were using bucktails or “hairs” as they are
called. As we cruised past a large and shallow area of reeds, Scott
informed me that I had a follow. I looked down into the water and saw the
same wide and dark brown form as it approached my bait. My heart started
to pound as I anticipated the attack that did not come. My inexperience
resulted in my being unable to tempt the musky into a strike using the
figure eight pattern that I had observed the day before. (My
pattern was feeble in comparison)
The allotted time for the contest was
almost up, and both Yvonne’s arms and my own were sore from the 500 or so
casts that we each threw into the chilly waters of Big St. Germain Lake
over the last two days. Scott dropped us off and we headed in to get a
bite to eat as Scott headed back out to another lake for some walleye
fishing. We grabbed a quick bite to eat at the Dutch Door Restaurant and
then headed back the Community Center for the results of the tournament.
All 340 musky hunters appeared to have
returned to the Center for the results. As we entered, we saw that a
local chapter of Boy Scouts was serving Brats and other goodies. There
was also pulled venison and venison chops as well as more of the great
Berghoff products that everyone was enjoying as they awaited the results
of the event.
Of all the musky hunters on ten
different lakes, only 19 fish were registered, and released. I figured
that this result was pretty standard, yet I heard not a single complaint
about the fishing or the weather. Organizer of the tournament Kenny
Jackson of Jackson’s Lakeside Cottages in St. Germain told me: “You should
have seen it last year... cold and driving rain/sleet.” The winning fish
this year was a whopping 47 inches of fighting musky that, by the way,
was the contestant’s first musky, taken on his last cast of the morning.
It all goes to show that efforts can be rewarded at any time and to any
hunter. The remaining prizes were distributed – including a $1000 check
awarded by a random drawing from all contestants entered in the tournament
– and this year’s musky hunters headed home.
I believe that I can speak for both
Yvonne and myself when I say that we both had a wonderful time and
thoroughly enjoyed our stay in St. Germain, Wisconsin. I also believe
that we have definitely caught ‘the fever’… I want to take another shot
at catching a musky. Special kudos go to the owners of Black Bear Lodge
and to the chef at the Bear’s Den Restaurant, as well as Fibbers,
Clearview Supper Club and the Dutch Door Restaurant. If you are in
need of a guide, contact Rob
Manthei at his web site or Scott Kaminsky at
715-358-3606. Both are good choices for your fishing needs.
thank-you has to also go out to Kenny Jackson of Jackson’s Lakeside
Cottages for all the time and effort he must have put
forth in order to organize such a great event.
For those of you who read this
article… I would recommend that if you are interested in fishing in a
great musky tournament in a great little town in northern Wisconsin, you
should put this one on your list and make sure to watch for next year’s
event and register as soon as you hear about it – this one will fill up
quickly! Stay tuned to
www.OntheLake.net for details and links. We certainly hope that
Berghoff is going to make it back for another year. I especially want to
thank Gary Knowles and Larry Schneiberg from Berghoff for all their time
and generosity associated with sponsoring the tournament. Great job!!