How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Moon gives muskie guide reason to quit drinking

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. -- The night view from a tavern window is something Chad Cain once knew well. Chasing the moon has given him a different outlook.
"The summers prior [to last year], I was a big partier after [guiding]," Cain, 33, said. "I would sit in the tavern, the moon would be coming up and I knew I should be out fishing."
Cain is a former suburban kid who, as a 20-something hotshot muskie guide, put Lake Kinkaid in southern Illinois on the map in the 1990s. His partying with clients after fishing put the world- class pork barbecue and ale at the 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro on the map, too.
I know. After I caught the fish of my life -- a 47-inch muskie from Lake Kinkaid with Cain on Feb. 23, 2000 -- we quit fishing in late morning and pounded drinks and food there.
That has changed. Matt Gawlik, the designer of the Hellhound glide bait, convinced Cain he was drinking too much. On Feb. 13, 2005, Cain stopped.
The first change came last summer. Over the summers, Cain stops guiding on Kinkaid to keep from stressing the muskies in high heat, then takes his guiding north.
There, he found the religion of the moon. The phases of the moon have a long line in muskie lore. Cain took it to extremes.
"I never missed a moonrise or a moonset last summer in Minnesota," Cain said.
Some thought he was crazy going out at 3:30 in the morning, if that matched a moonrise or moonset. But it paid off.
"It got to where I was calling casts," Cain said.
He and his clients boated 146 muskies, 29 of them longer than 48 inches and eight longer than 50.
"It took that much devotion and being single and being dedicated," Cain said.
The change in Cain shows in other ways. He now has his hands in three businesses: his guide team, the tackle business and Musky Armor, which markets shoes and gloves for muskie fishing. And he has lost 40 pounds.
"I don't know if I can say I regret [the drinking]," Cain said.
Then he added cryptically: "It's a lot harder to break bad habits than start good ones."
Copyright CHICAGO SUN-TIMES 2006Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.


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