How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Monday, March 13, 2006

New breed of anglers make muskies wary

There are so many good nicknames in the world of the outdoors.

I get jealous sometimes when I hear someone like Greg Wilczynski referred to as "The Prowler" or Don Dziedzina as "King of the Cooling Lakes."

Most nicknames are dubbed on individuals, but Ty Sennett, Chad Cain and Gregg Thomas, in the world of pro muskie fishing, are called "The Young Guns."

These three young men have turned the world of muskie fishing on its ear with their knowledge, innovation and their ability to put fish in their boats. Muskies are big fish and Sennett – the son of Johnsburg High School boys basketball and baseball coach Ed Sennett – Cain and Thomas hook and land the biggest of the big.

Muskie fishing is exploding in popularity every year.

Living in northern Illinois is a dream if you are a muskie fisherman. The Fox Chain is one of the hottest spots in the Midwest, as evidenced by it being named the site for the 2006 Professional Muskie Tournament Trail.

Shabbona holds huge fish. The Fox River hides more muskies than you'd imagine. And 21/2 hours away lies Lake Shelbyville, an absolute big muskie factory.

There are waters that hold muskies in every direction you care to travel in Illinois.

In years past, the secrets to mastering these freshwater versions of "Jaws" was the domain of old veterans who spent their lifetimes trying to outsmart the toothy beasts. In 2006, it's the handsome, polished and well-spoken "Young Guns" who are figuring out the secrets of hooking and landing the legendary Esox and fishermen young and old are sitting up and taking notice.

A "Young Guns" seminar is lively, fun and informative. If you see Cain, Sennett and Thomas give a talk, bring a recorder because your hands will not write fast enough to get all the tips and tactics they throw at you in rapid-fire style.

Sennett lives on Wisconsin's Chippewa Flowage, where he has worked as a licensed guide for 25 years. His reputation as a guide is second to none and anyone traveling to the area of the Chip could do no better than to book a day on the water with the young Sennett, who can be reached at (612) 839-1227 or by logging on to

Cain, who is from St. Charles, spends the winter months haunting southern Illinois' Lake Kincaid, home of some of the state's biggest fish. In the hot weather months, Cain moves north to Minnesota to do battle on Leech Lake, Vermillion and Mille Lacs. Check out or call (618) 549-3074.

Thomas, as if "Young Guns" isn't a cool enough nickname, calls his guide service Battle the Beast. He exudes intensity in everything he does from fishing to giving seminars. In the summer, he fishes in Kentucky at Cave Run and Green River Lake. In the summer months, he plies his trade on one of Minnesota's best muskie waters, Mille Lacs. Check out or call (606) 776-6729.

The "Young Guns" will be live and on stage at this year's edition of the Extreme Muskie Expo, which has found a new home for 2006 in the new and beautiful DuPage Expo Center in St. Charles. The expo center is located on North Avenue and west of Route 59.

The Extreme Muskie Expo features nightly "Extreme Madness" giveaways, door prizes, boats, tackle, lures, guides, resorts and products you will not find anywhere else. A main attraction is the 8,000-gallon muskie tank where some in-water demos will be given.

The main draw, though, is its excellent lineup of seminar speakers. Featured on the main stage, in addition to the "Young Guns," will be the Musky Hunter himself, Jim Saric, Cave Run's Tony Grant, Ranger Rick Krueger, Crash Mullins, Sean Birmingham, Rich "Big Goomba" Gallagher, and Indiana's Mike Hulbert.

The expo takes place from 2-9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8 on Friday and $10 on the weekend days. There is a three-day pass available for $15, and kids under 12 will be admitted for free.

I'll be there to take in the "Young Guns" seminar. Come on by and say hi. I'll be sitting up front, taking notes.


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