I was convinced right off that Larry Muse was a fisherman’s fisherman. I had travelled to Wilson Lake in Alabama to learn something from him about catfishing. A friend had given me his name. An email and a short phone called set up the trip.
As we left the ramp in his catfish rigged Sea Ark he explained that his previous boat had burned, along with his truck, house and belongings. He said he had insurance so he was OK. “The insurance paid off,” stated Muse. “The first thing I replaced was my boat. I told my wife, if you don't have a boat, what do you need with a house? I got a good wife.”
As fate would have it, he does have a good wife. Joyce accompanies him on road trips to various tournaments and even helps by keeping score and such. “We love it. We get to travel around a little bit. We go to places we might not go, like Texas, Illinois, Georgia and different places.”
Paydays for tournament anglers are not normally described as consistent. “When we win we get a little, but sometimes we have to spend a little. It all comes out in the wash pretty good.”
On our way to the fishing hole Muse told an interesting story about his “sailfish” poles. “My step daddy, Frank Meador, started fishing some tournaments with us. He brought his own poles because he liked left-handed reels. He had an old Penn senator, on a 5-foot 6-inch rod. The rod had rollers on it. We’d be fishing along and we look over there and say, ‘Pop you are getting a bite on your sailfish pole.’”
Overtime it seemed Pop was catching fish pretty regular. “I don't know what it is,” Muse told his fishing partner and brother, Dino Meador, “but I think we better order us a couple of those sailfish poles. We later got second place in the world championship and all the big fish came off those sailfish poles.”
Muse speculated that it was the rollers. “When we suspend over fish, sometimes they will load that rod and then turn it loose. There is something they don’t like. I think those big fish are actually feeling the grit in that braided line on rods with conventional guides. When they load that pole with that roller on it I don’t think they feel it. Big fish will take that pole with the roller when they won't take nothin’ else. They are really smoother and I really think that is what the deal is.”
Muse’s technique on Wilson is to suspend big bloody baits in 60- to 70-feet of water. He rigs his sailfish poles with 7/0 Daiichi circle hooks, a 2-ounce egg sinker and 60-pound mono leader. He says you might have to trial and error the depth, but your Humminbird will help you determine that. “Rig up and go out there and drop it down; place the rod in a Driftmaster Rod Holder and wait for the bite.” Muse likes to start at 3- to 5-feet above the bottom, but always has an eye on the electronics for an indication that the fish have changed depth.
With all the riggin’ complete it was time to get serious about location. Muse has a pretty good idea where the timber is so he heads in that direction with his Humminbird on split screen. One side shows a down sonar view while the other shows a navigation screen. He maneuvers the boat to the desired location and hits the Spot-Lock feature on the Minn Kota trolling motor.
Muse explained that the Spot-Lock feature of his i-Pilot trolling motor is designed to position the boat in one place. It uses an internal GPS receiver to keep the trolling motor within a 5-foot circle of the spot where it is engaged. When current or wind moves the boat, and therefore the motor, out of the 5-foot circle, the motor engages to take it back to the original position by adjusting prop speed and direction. For Muse’s suspended bait, this means it will stay within that small radius. Because i-Pilot can remember several spots anglers can recall previous spots and return to them using the recall function.
The accompanying photo of Muse’s Humminbird screen shows the track we took that day to the fishing hole and then how the boat stays very near that one desired location when the Spot-Lock was engaged. (See the darker spot in the middle of the screen.) We were fishing over 60-foot deep water. “Once we are on em’ we want to stay there,” advises Muse. “Once the smell starts flowing in the current it won’t be long until they follow it up to the bait.” The idea is to stay in the same place and make it easy for the big cats to find the bait.
Larry Muse is a frequent competitor in Ken Freemans, Big Cat Quest and 2013 Angler of the Year. He is sponsored by Big Cat Quest, Bass Pro Shops, Daiichi Hooks, Driftmaster Rod Holders, Abu Garcia, Pure Fishing and Jim Bishop Toyota.