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120 Muskies Boated During Canada Musky School

Rob Kivela’s fishing partner, Willy Todd, had just set the hook and was battling a musky. Kivela began reeling his bucktail as fast as he could so he could grab the net — and that’s when things got interesting.

As he reeled, Kivela’s lure was also struck by a musky. After he set the hook he was locked up in his own battle, only one with a fish that proved to be much larger. “All I wanted to do was get my lure in as quickly as possible so I could help Willy,” Kivela said. “I really had no idea how big my fish was until it was in the net.”

Todd netted his musky, then pushed the button on his reel to allow slack line so he could net Kivela’s. Once both muskies were in the net, the anglers from Marquette, Michigan, celebrated because they had managed a double. Todd’s musky measured 39 inches, but Kivela’s was special. At 50 inches long, it was his personal best fish and proved to be the largest of the 2016 University of Esox Canada Musky Adventure.

In all, 26 students from eight states and Ontario attended the 19th annual school, which was hosted by Sandy’s Blackhawk Island Camp on the Northwest Angle of Lake of the Woods. Students and school staff caught 120 muskies during the week-long event.

Kivela caught his 50-incher on a Double Cowgirl and won the school’s Big Musky Award. His nine muskies for the week also earned him the school’s Top ’Lunge Award, which goes to the student with the most fish. Kivela’s week also included a 49-incher, which struck a Salmo Skinner 20.

“This was Rob’s third Canada school and he’s become an animal on Lake of the Woods,” said Musky Hunter Editor and TV show host Jim Saric, who emceed the event. “He has taken the information presented and applied it, and is really seeing the results of his hard work.”

Resort owner and guide Bill Sandy also caught a 50-incher, on a bucktail.

Sixteen muskies measured at least 45 inches. Also catching fish of that size were: Trever Weldon of Seagrave, Ontario, 49 inches on a Double Cowgirl and 45 inches on a bucktail; Tripp Soma of McFarland, Wisconsin, 48 1/2 inches on a Shallow Invader; Josh Elder of Crown Point, Indiana, 47 1/2 inches on a Double Cowgirl; instructor Kevin Schmidt, 47 1/2 inches on a twin-ten bucktail; Saric, 47 inches on a Magnum ShallowRaider; instructor Spence Petros, 46 inches on a tube and 45 inches on a Buchertail; Jack Mattner of Chilton, Wisconsin, 46 inches on a Double Cowgirl; Mike Aalberg of Lincoln, Nebraska, 46 inches on a Lee’s topwater; Ed O’Neill of Dwight, Illinois, 46 inches on a Double Cowgirl; Sean Ruppel of Uxbridge, Ontario, 46 inches on a Double Cowgirl; and Steve Soma of McFarland, Wisconsin, 45 1/2 inches on a bucktail.

Michelle Olson of Big Lake, Minnesota, boated her personal best musky, a 41-incher, during the school.

“I’m proud of the way our students fished through the weather we experienced,” said Musky Hunter Managing Editor Steve Heiting. “Of our seven days, four had post-frontal conditions, and that reflected in what caught our muskies. Nearly 21 percent were caught on minnowbaits, indicating the fish needed a little more to trigger them than normal.

The school featured 15 hours of seminars wrapped around fishing. Twice-daily information sharing sessions kept everyone appraised of the patterns as they evolved during the week.

Sandy’s Blackhawk Island served as host for the ninth consecutive year. “Bill and Cindy and their families provide a terrific location for our school,” Saric said. “Their cabins and docking are the best around, and the food and service are phenomenal.”

The University of Esox will return to Sandy’s Blackhawk Island July 15-22, 2017. Call 1-800-236-8759 (23-MUSKY) or watch Musky Hunter for details.


Steve’s Tackle & Equipment Recommendations Page Updated

The 2016 musky fishing season is beginning to glow on the horizon, and Steve Heiting offers his insights into the equipment and tackle he uses every day on the water. If you’re looking to buy a new boat, electronics, a rod, or stock your tackle box, Steve explains what he uses and why. To learn more, click here.

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