How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Finding Minnesota: Muskie Rampage Of 1955

WCCO) Walker, Minn. On lazy summer days in Federal Dam, the tiny town where the legendary Leech Lake is formed, kids still cast their fishing rods from the docks. With lures of assorted colors and sizes, they're filled with eager anticipation, hoping to lure a lunker.Dan Tonga greets visitors with a warm smile. Under bright indigo skies, Tonga prepares to set off on another Leech Lake fishing charter. He now runs the charter business his parents started decades ago.Tonga tells his customers that it was weather much like the current spell of hot days that the greatest Muskie tale ever told unfolded, back on July 16, 1955."They say it was a hot, hot summer -- the dog days of summer. I guess the tulibees were dying all over the lake. It was dead fish all over the lake. And the Muskies, they just started catching them one after the other," Tonga reminisces.Fish that would normally be caught once in a thousand casts were biting at anything thrown their way."I guess anything that floated people were trying to get on and get out and get their fish caught," recalled the sage guide.More than 50 years later, vintage black and white photographs show record catches with dozens of huge Muskie hanging from long poles and being hauled about in wheelbarrows. They're scenes from long ago that Dan Tonga simply sums up as "very rare, very rare."Word of the aptly named "Muskie rampage" spread quickly around the region. Friends called their other fishing friends. WCCO Radio started doing daily Muskie updates. Soon, Leech Lake was alive with throngs of eager anglers."There's not many of them around to talk about it anymore," said Jerry Stewart, standing on Walker's city dock.Stewart also runs a charter and guide service on the lake and has caught his share of Muskie over the years. Usually, after spending long hours on Leech either trolling or casting for the elusive monsters. He's well aware of time it takes just to catch one."That was the Federal Dam run of 1955. It never happened again, that was a one time deal," Stewart said.Because of the heat that summer, the fish had lost their normal food source, the tulibee. They were extremely hungry and biting at practically anything cast their way.In the years since that record summer of '55, there have been other fishing frenzies. But nothing anywhere near the few hot days in July that turned Leech Lake into a Muskie legend.As Dan Tonga bemusedly examined the faded photos of dozens of huge Muskies, I joked that they appear to show just a normal day of fishing. He gave an infectious laugh, smiled and said, "Yeah, we catch them like that all the time!"Only in my dreams!

Video Link: http://wcco.com/local/local_story_190081750.html

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Thank you for the post. I have been to Federal Dam and I wish I had been there to see the rampage. Pretty Cool. I took the liberty of linking to your post from my blog at http://www.realestatetwincities.net/minnesota-lakes-and-fishing/. I hope that is ok.

 
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