Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Voices from the Past: Fred Rinehart

Yesterday I profiled the life of Fred Rinehart, inventor of the Rinehart Jinx lure. As mentioned, for a brief time Rinehart served as an outdoor writer in 1937 for his local Newark Advocate newspaper. Here is one of his pieces on musky fishing in the local Muskingum River. While he will never be mistaken for Will Dilg or Dixie Caroll, I found the article charming.

Anglers Are Missing Best Part of Fishing Season;

Big Fellows Hitting in Muskingum

by Fred Rinehart

LOCAL anglers who have stored the fishing tackle back for storage are missing part of the best fishing of the year.

Fish, especially of the large game fish, feed heavily in the fall, in preparation for the dormant period of winter.

Those who have not fished the Muskingum river have a treat in store for them when they hook into a musky or pike. Many anglers are not aware of the fact that the lordly musky inhabit waters close to home; within 45 minutes' drive from Newark you will be in musky territory.

Only three rivers in Ohio can boast of having musky in their waters: The Grand river, east of Cleveland, and the Maumee river, southwest of Toledo, and the Muskingum river and drainage. Of these three, the Muskingum is the most noted, and produces the most and heaviest fish. Musky and pike live in harmony with each other, and the angler has the chance of hooking either of these two grand fish. Hooking and landing either of these fish is a thrill never to be forgotten.

The majority of the musky and pike are caught close to the falls of the dam, in or near the swift water. The pike is the more savage striker of the two, usually taking the bait with a savage rush, while the musky is a more slow-action fish. The fight is entirely different, as the pike will immediately bore for the bottom of the stream, while the musky will break water in a savage leap and roll. Wire leaders should be used, as either fish will cut a line quickly. Sometimes either will lay on the bottom after a short fight. Keep them moving. By taping your pole lightly at butt end will cause them to start moving. They will soon tire and can be landed easily.

The musky is a noted trick fighter, as after two or three savage rushes, will change tactics, such as rolling quickly and twisting the line about itself. Whenever a musky starts this, pull as hard as your tackle will endure. I have hooked and seen musky stand on their head and bore in the sand to loosen a bait. This trick usually works to the musky's advantage, and anglers agree this is their best trick. With the heavy weight of their bodies and head down, the angler's tackle, unless of the strongest material, will fail to make his majesty yield until it is too late.

Another trick is to rub and bore against a rock to loosen the lure. This can be overcome by using some pressure on the rod. On the strike it is well to set the hooks hard, as the musky's mouth is of a hard bony structure, and unless hard hook setting is done, the hooks will fail to penetrate deep enough to secure a good hold. Don't endeavor to "horse" a large fish; as the saying is, "it can't be done." A fish of from 10 to 35 pounds weight has tremendous pull. Simply hold a fairly tight line and let him make the runs. It is useless to tell an angler not to become excited, because no angler can land a fish without more or less of a nerve disorder.

Muskys will be found usually on or close to a bar, out in the river. The food they consume is around these bars and consists of shad, suckers, carp, and practically all minnows large enough to make a mouthful. A 15-pound musky can consume a large fish, as I have personally known of a four-pound carp taken from the stomach of a 36” musky. Plugs of four and five inches, or larger, are most commonly used, also spoons and bucktail, but plugs account for most musky in the Muskingum River. Natural pike finish or golden shiner are the two most noted lures, and account for the most musky strikes. The musky prefers a slow moving bait unless the water is very clear.

Lines of 18,, 24 and 30 pound test are suitable for muskys. Break about two foot off twice a day off the casting end. This part receives the most abuse and wear and will be the first to break. Examine your line carefully at intervals, as sometimes a stone cut will cause a line to fray and become weak, perhaps to cause the angler to lose a good fish.

Speaking of musky bait, several anglers prefer to use live bait, a large sucker bait six or seven inches making the best live bait. Select the edge of a bar where the water starts from shallow bar to deeper water. Do not use float and leave plenty of space between sinker and minnow, this, allows the minnow plenty of freedom and swim about. Hook minnow through both lips of mouth with fairly large hook of good quality. When the strike is made, allow your fish to make his run and stop; they will sometimes take from five minutes up to an hour in time, but when this is finished the fish will again start moving, let go 10 or 15 foot run and if the musky does not stop in this distance it is almost a surety that he has swallowed the minnow. Take all the slack up in the line and give a quick, hard jerk to set the hook, and your thrill will start.

If you wish to preserve the head for mounting, wash the head clean and using brush, wash the head completely with formaldehyde full strength and allow it to thoroughly dry, then give a couple of coats of rod varnish. Some firms supply glass eyes, this makes a neat, attractive head, and in years to come, becomes a remembrance of the thrill battle.

The weather and fall scenery are grand and beautiful along the Muskingum valley, so you anglers can still have fishing even if the weather be cool. Give the muskys a trial. When you hook one you will have that never to be forgotten thrill that many anglers travel thousands of miles for.

-- Dr. Todd

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