BREEZY POINT, Minn. — At age 90, Harvey Hollenback, of Breezy Point, Minn., likely has several fishing stories to keep anyone engaged, but his most recent trip just may top them all.
With his grandson, Cameron Ling, visiting from Dallas over Labor Day, the two ended up with a fishing story they will share forever as they caught a 44-inch muskie on a lake near Longville, Minn., after just one cast.
The trip came about as Hollenback’s neighbor, Wade Brill, offered to take the two of them fishing for “the fish of 10,000 casts.” Though they have gone fishing together plenty of times over the past few decades, muskie fishing was something Hollenback and Ling had never done together.
Brill, the experienced muskie angler of the group, said they began the day at noon with the trio trolling for the elusive fish. After maybe an hour, they found themselves in 50 to 60 feet of water.
Not long after, Brill and Hollenback saw a dorsal fin come out of the water like a shark in the movies.
“A few pros will say that if you see that, that fish is ready to eat and is catchable in that area for even an hour or so,” Brill said. “I no sooner got that out of my mouth when the fish hit.”
“Within 2 minutes (of seeing the fin), my line jerked,” Ling said in an email.
After a single cast and fewer than 90 minutes on the water, Ling was fighting with his first muskie.
“I fought with her for about 15 or 20 minutes,” he said. “Right when I was landing her in the net, the lure was bent and came out. Luckily Wade is an expert and we didn’t experience a loss.”
“We caught the fish maybe an hour and 15 minutes after we put the boat in, if you can imagine that,” Hollenback said.
With the fish in the boat, the group had the chance to measure it: 44 inches in length, 19 inches in girth.
After taking measurements — and plenty of photos — the fish was released back into the lake.
“What else can I say? It was a wonderful, wonderful experience,” Hollenback said. “I had just come back from a salmon fishing trip —where we had quite a bit of success — but this really capped it off for me.”
The catch gives the pair a tale to share for years to come, and just may have altered Ling’s angling pursuits in the future.
“He is a muskie hunter from now on,” Hollenback said of his grandson.
For Brill, just seeing the pair share this moment is enough of a story for him.
“They have been fishing partners since Cam was a little boy,” Brill said. “To go out actually targeting muskies for the first time, and to actually get one in an hour and a half is a pretty good deal.
“It was emotional. There is a little bit of shock and awe for them to make that happen, and it was quite special. It just doesn’t happen that often … The big thing for me was to see how happy they were to experience that together,” Brill said.