News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 1, 2012

REDNECK QUAKER: Building a muskie resumé

Kenny Bayless
The Tribune-Star

---- — Muskie: the fish of 10,000 cast. Does this wise saying give you an idea how dedicated Gary Handlin Jr. is to his fishing? Yes, he has caught many 40-inch-long (plus) muskie.

Look at Gary’s muskie resumé! The first week of October in 2011 he caught a 48-inch-long muskie with a 21-inch girth (that’s around the waist on a fish) and weighing over 33 pounds.

The second fish was about 46 inches long and weighed 28 pounds.

The first time he caught a muskie he was bass fishing with what would be considered ultra light for a fish like this, he landed a 42-inch-long muskie. That built a fire in his inner being and life has not been the same; he eats and sleeps muskie. You thought I would even say he named one of his kids muskie, didn’t you? No, but he has two boys and a wonderful wife.

Here are some of his fishing secrets:

Gary’s favorite gear to do battle with giant muskie is a nine-foot heavy-action rod to handle four- to 10-ounce lures, fitted with a Diawa Luna 800 bait caster reel with 80 brade power throw line and a 130-pound flora carbon leader. He likes to throw big swim baits that go four to six feet deep.

One favorite lure is a spinner bait called a double-ten Sili Girl Musky Mahem, which is lime green fading into red in color.

Storm makes rubber-looking crank baits that look like prehistoric critters and are literally 13 inches long, weighing a pound or two. You will have arms like Arnold Schwarzenegger or die of a heart attack if you throw one for very long!

Muskie will not bite during the spawning season so don’t waste your time.

Water temperature, the light levels and weather conditions are what tell you what bait to throw. If the barometric pressure hits 30.25, get your fishing pole out. Gary says they will line up and say “catch me.”

Where can I catch one of these bad boys, you say?

Several lakes in our general are and Indiana have been stocked since 1997 with outstanding success. When they were stocked they placed five fish per acre which is the highest stocking average in the world.

You can buy enough beer to float a battle ship and Gary won’t tell you his best spot, but he did name some nearby lakes that harbor big muskie, like Eagle Creek Reservoir over by Indianapolis. In Illinois there’s Mill Creek and Shelbyville Lake, along with some strip pits in rural areas.

Gary Handlin Sr. said with a weary expression on his face, if you throw a Muskie bait more than 15 minutes you’re wore out. When this Dad and Lad team hit the water, muskie doesn’t have a prayer.

Indiana State record for muskie is 42.2 pounds and the world record is in the upper 60-pound range. 

Gary Sr. and Junior are great sportsmen for never keeping a muskie to take home. They always catch and release!

My hat is off to you gentlemen!

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