Fishing for muskies is a Northwoods tradition. For 11-year-old twins Madison and Jake Relien of Neenah, it’s also the basis for some friendly competition.
A recent stay in Vilas County produced a fish for each sibling. Madison would gain the lead — for now.
Madison latched on to her fish while row-trolling with her dad, Ryan Relien, and her grandpa, Rich Relien, July 17. Ryan said they had just marked a fish and moved a bait.
“Madi’s fish ... we had one bait that was running a bit deep,” he said.
Ryan had Madison bring in some line to get the bait to run a bit shallower. The adjustment resulted in a strike for his daughter. Ryan thinks it was the fish they had just marked.
“It fought hard,” Madison said. “The line went ‘zzzzz’ ... it fought really hard — especially close to the boat.”
She said it got really exciting when they first got a look at the muskie’s head and got an idea of just how big it was. After several minutes of battle, the muskie was hauled aboard.
“It was really cool,” Madison said, recalling the moment.
She said the muskie grabbed a Legend Perch Bait at about 7:30 p.m. on a warm evening.
The fish measured 45 inches. It was not Madison’s first muskie, but it was her largest to-date. The muskie was also larger than any her brother had caught.
Madison said the three-hour fishing excursion also had some other excitement, in which one particularly aggressive fish was sighted.
“It actually came up to the surface and hit one of the planer boards,” she said.
Jake would get his chance just one day later, also while row trolling with his father and grandfather. It was a hot, sunny day.
Ryan said they were targeting muskies that were suspended about 20 feet down in water more than 50 feet deep.
The evening was growing late when Jake’s fish grabbed his 8-inch crank bait. It was about 9:30 p.m.
“It was very hard to pull in. And then I saw it jump out of the water,” Jake said.
He said he battled the muskie for about five minutes before it was landed.
Jake’s muskie was a 39-incher. He said it was not his first, and also not his biggest. This June, Jake hauled in his largest — a 43-incher — while casting a bucktail.
Of course, that means Madison’s 45-incher surpasses Jake’s largest muskie by a little bit. Jake is eager to get back to the chase.
“I want to get ahead of my sister and catch a 46-incher,” he said.
All of the muskies caught were released to fight another day.
Madison and Jake were visiting their grandparents, Sue and Rich Relien, at their Boulder Junction area cabin.
Sue said she’s proud of the kids, and noted that their early success and interest in pursuing muskies can be attributed to their father, who has long loved the sport.
Commenting on how early her grandchildren developed muskie-catching abilities, Sue said, “You’d understand why if you knew their father.”
The Relien twins enjoy other outdoor activities away from the muskie haunts of Vilas County.
“I like to hunt and play soccer,” Madison said. “I shot my first deer last year.”
Madison was hunting with her grandpa Rich when she took a doe during the youth deer hunt last fall. She plans to try again this year.
Jake said, “If it’s swimming, I like to catch it.”
He said he likes to catch walleyes, perch and bluegills in addition to muskies. Jake also enjoys ice fishing for these fish.
Like his sister, Jake enjoys hunting and plans to participate in this fall’s youth deer hunt.
For now, the sibling muskie rivalry is to be continued ...
Craig Turk may be reached at email@example.com