The Big One

Eleven-year-old Ethan Bosacker lands a 48-inch muskie on Lake Minnetonka.
Lukas Haugen, Kolt Ringer & Ethan Bosacker

The air was warm. The evening was young. Lake Minnetonka fishing guide Kolt Ringer had his reasons for believing 11-year-old Ethan Bosacker’s line was caught on a weed.

Ringer, who has been a guide on the lake for the past 12 years and has fished in some professional muskie tournaments, was taking out his friend John Haugen, Haugen’s son, Lukas, and Bosacker on the early-evening of July 22. The goal was muskies, and the men started by trolling 12-inch crank baits in over 20-feet of water. At about 6:15 p.m., only 15-minutes into their first pass outside of Carson’s Bay, Bosacker’s rod started bouncing in its holder as they approached 14 feet.

Ringer picked up the pole, thinking it had to be a weed. But then he felt the head shake.

“I  instantly handed the rod to Ethan, and the fight was on,” Ringer says. “He was struggling to keep the rod tip up as the fish was pretty powerful. The lake was pretty much glass so we could see the fish a ways back. I had the net and was pretty excited, hoping the fish wouldn't get off!”

After about a four-minute battle, they netted a 48-inch muskie.

Photos were quickly taken and the fish was released. Ringer says his personal best muskie on Lake Minnetonka is 52 inches and he’s heard of 57-inch muskies caught, though this was by far the largest he’s had in his boat caught by anyone so young.

 “Ethan had just lost a tough state baseball game earlier in the day,” Ringer says. “but I don't think that was going to be what he remembers from that day.”  


Tonka Muskie Tips

Want to reel in the next big muskie? Ringer is the man to help!  He currently works for Foley-Belsaw Outdoors to help them develop business solutions for pro guides and tournament anglers and is also the founder of American Angler Leagues, LLC, which aims to provide communities with a model to set up youth fishing leagues across the country (as in Lake Minnetonka’s Youth Fishing League this past summer).

‘Tis the season for monster muskies, according to Ringer.

 “The muskie fishing really heats up on Minnetonka in August and can provide great ‘trophy’ fish opportunities until Dec. 1, when the season closes,” he explains. “There are good numbers and good quality fish that can exceed the 55-inch-plus mark. Anglers can have success fishing the points, most of which are marked with hazard buoys.”  

Typically, after the first cool spell in August, muskies move into shallow water to seek warmth and find food, Ringer says.

“The muskies are still in the shallow 2-8 feet of water,” he explains, recommending top-water baits and small bucktails. “Sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset are the best times to target muskies and will give anglers the best shot at catching one.”