I was searching Instagram one night and saw some big muskie pics from a dude with a very cool beard. A bit more investigation and I found out that Russell Bapst is a consistently successful muskie angler. He also holds his own for other species, like steelhead, that swim his local waters in the Toronto and Kawarthas regions. He took some time to fill us in on his beard and more importantly his fishing. Here is what he had to say…
First of all, I think you get nominated for the Dock Talk 365 all beard club. How long have you had it?
Haha, can’t say I belong to any beard club, it feels good to get somewhere in life. I’ve had it about two years now. I keep telling people who ask how I grew my beard the answer is really simple you just don’t shave.
How long have you been fishing?
I’ve been fishing as long as I can remember started same as most kids catching a ton of panfish with the old worm and bobber.
You catch some very big muskie. What are your favorite muskie waters?
I’m not going to say where my home lake is but it’s really the only place I’ve fished Muskie. I will say the Kawarthas has a lot bigger Muskie than people think if you know where to look. Finally bought a truck this year going to get out to Georgian Bay and maybe St Clair eventually.
What is your favorite technique for catching muskie?
Go big or go home as far as baits are concerned. Talking about Muskie waters, early- mid summer shallow weedlines burning bucktails seems to produce for me…I make bigger ones than you can buy in store that will have to be our secret…and later in the year early fall usually fish the bigger beds in around 12 to 15 feet of water using big jerkbaits or again the biggest plastics/ buckies you can buy. Bulldogs, Pounders, Madusa.
Also fish steep breaks depending on the weather system. Knowing when to fish where is the trick to being a good angler…I think.
You also spend some time chasing trout and steelhead. What are your favorite waters for doing some trout fishing?
Spending some time steelheading is an understatement…haha. It seems a lot easier than it is. Well I mean I live in the heart of the city and usually don’t tend to travel much further than Rouge River or Duffins Creek. It really makes it difficult to catch steelhead when there are way too many people from the city who like to watch the float go down and feel the fish fight on the free spool centre pin.
That being said I have put endless miles on those two rivers I have been fishing steelhead for only about 5 years but I’ve got a few holes that people write magazines about…haha.
Just don’t follow me from my truck I’m very protective about my Muskie water and steelhead holes…haha. By the way, I’m a firm believer of catch an release. Preserve the sport you love and it will be there for future anglers.
What are the fisheries around the world that are on your fishing bucket list?
I’d like to fish St Clair and Lake of the Woods for Muskie. I love bass fishing as well so I’d want to go for Goliath grouper. Something about essentially a 600lb largemouth gets me fired up.
How was the overall 2016 season for you and what were some of the highlights?
This season I got my personal best steelhead approximately 12-15 pounds. Finally caught a Muskie on a figure 8 watched it chase for about 5 motions. My lake is extremely clear and Muskie are usually very skiddish around boats. I think the highlight in the past few years is two big tiger Muskie I got. I don’t know if I’ll ever get a bigger tiger.
Luckiest fish was Catching a 45″ Muskie on a bass frog in two feet and pads, 40lb test on my flipping rod and no leader, she went crazy and my brother netted while the line was under the boat on the far side.
Russell, if you see someone trying to follow you getting out of his car with a wannabe beard and Pennsylvania plates, don’t worry…I’ll keep your spots a secret. Check out Russell’s fishing success on Instagram.