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Sam Becker, 13, keeps the muskies coming

Sam Becker holds 50 1/4-inch muskie he caught released this year Lake VermiliMinnesota.  |   For Sun-Times Media

Sam Becker holds the 50 1/4-inch muskie he caught and released this year on Lake Vermilion in Minnesota. | For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 26, 2014 1:11PM



For those unacquainted with muskie fishing, casting a Medusa swimbait is like heaving a small cement block into the water and reeling it in all day.

Keep that in mind in this story about 13-year-old Sam Becker, who started his first year at Lincoln-Way Central last week, and his muskie accomplishments the last two years.

‘‘I don’t show any mercy,’’ father Richard Becker, 44, said with a laugh when I asked why his oldest son was heaving such heavy baits around. ‘‘He doesn’t quit. He can go for hours without any action, and he is still like it is the first cast.’’

Sam caught his first muskie last year, a 48-incher. It was a fish good enough that his father had a replica made.

It might have been a little too soon for that. Let’s just say this summer exceeded Sam’s first muskie — on a couple of different levels.

The father and son, who live in Mokena, won the guardian/youth division of the 29th annual National Championship Musky Open last weekend in the Eagle River area of northern Wisconsin.

They registered muskies of 37.5 and 36 inches. They caught two others of less than 34 inches and couldn’t register them. They also lost a pair of 40-inch-plus fish. They were fishing Catfish and Eagle lakes.

‘‘We found the fish on the outside weed edges, and the key to catching them was using size-8 double-bladed bucktails and burning them as fast as you could,’’ Richard said. ‘‘Speed was the key.’’

But that only capped a good stretch for the father and son.

‘‘The day before the Eagle River tournament, we went to Lax Reproductions to order a reproduction of a fish Sam caught in Minnesota,’’ Richard said.

At the end of July, the pair fished Lake Vermilion in Minnesota. One day, they fished with guide Luke Ronnestrand, and Sam caught a 501/4-inch muskie with a girth of 25 inches on a Medusa. It was a thick fish they estimated at 38 to 40 pounds.

For muskie fishermen, it was an open-water fish caught at the time of the late mayfly hatch, which had the ciscoes going. The muskies were feeding on the ciscoes. Sam’s muskie was the 208th longer than 50 inches boated by Ronnestrand or his clients.

Richard has his own history when it comes to muskie fishing, something other fathers may relate to. Richard started muskie fishing around 16, then stopped when it came time to raise a family. He restarted in 2009, and it helps now that his oldest son is into it.

The thing is, the replicas and mounts are starting to pile up in the house.

‘‘It is a good problem to have,’’ Richard said.

Yes. Yes, it is.



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