Young Guns: Walleye Fishing’s In Marianne Huskey’s Blood
Category: press release
Sep 27th, 2010 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Sep 27th, 2010 at 12:00 AM
Even at age 6, Marianne Huskey knew she was hooked.
From the time her first perch bit her first minnow on her grandfather’s Sea Ray in Lake Michigan off Charlevoix, Mich., fishing became a part of her life, and she’s never looked back. “It was pouring rain that day, and I’ll never forget it,” as she puts it.
After salmon fishing with her grandfather and trying her hand at trout, which ended abruptly when she learned she was allergic to mosquito bites, she moved to walleye, and that’s what did it.
“When I moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I went ice fishing in 1997 for walleye in Munuscong Bay. The first day out I caught my first, and that was the end of it; I was hooked,” says Huskey, who now lives in Shawano, Wis., and is a member of the team sponsored by Cedarville, Michigan’s Green Energy Solutions (learn more about that company at www.upgreenenergy.net).
Two decades later, she’s not looking back, and has become the only woman currently competing in the AIM Pro Walleye Series of tournaments. In only her second season as a pro, she finished 46th at this year’s first tourney on Saginaw Bay, and moved up in the Bay Mills Invitational June 3-5, which added to the list of AIM’s innovations that include its catch-record-release format by making that tournament an artificial bait/lure only event. The tourney was the richest on the circuit, with the winner earning $30,000, and Bay Mills Casino chipping in another $50,000 in prize money to the pot.
She barely missed the final day cut there, finishing 23rd. It was the same story at at Akaska, S.D., where she missed the cut by one place and a few hundredths of a pound, finishing 27th. Huskey also placed 39th in the weather-shortened championship on Lake Winnie, and finished 39th out of 79 in the run for Angler Of The Year. Huskey says she’s already comfortable with her new status as one of AIM’s “Young Guns” and is already looking forward to next season.
“I started out fishing local tournaments in Michigan’s St. Mary’s River, other lakes in northern Lower Michigan and in the U.P.,” she says. “Then I started doing some pre-fishing with some of the pros and mentioned I was thinking of fishing at the pro level. They told me if I was able to obtain some sponsors, that fishing at that level was so beneficial because I was going to learn a lot more a lot quicker.”
She’s been able to do both, garnering sponsorships from Lund, Mercury, Navionics, Green Energy Solutions, Outcast Musky Lures, Bert’s Custom Tackle, Offshore Tackle, Mack’s Lures, Optima Batteries, Brutus’ Maple Bay Marine, and JT’s Custom Tackle.
“I still ice fish and have six shanties, primarily in Wisconsin, but if I had a choice, Michigan’s St. Mary’s, Munuscong, and Burt Lake would be the places for me,” she adds. But she also likes fishing new bodies of water, competing for the first time this year in Green Bay, Wis., and Akaska, S.D., and on Minnesota’s Lake Winnie for the championship.
What made her want to enter what almost always has been an exclusively male arena?\
“I’ve been asked that question by a lot of my friends, and it’s never even been an issue in AIM,” she answers. “When we’re talking about this group of anglers we’re talking the best of the best, and the most professional of the pros who fish tournaments.
“They just treat me like one of the guys. I do network with about five others but I like to fish by myself sometimes, and there’s times when I’ll be putting in my boat and one will want to help me load, and I come back with my famous line, ‘don’t worry, I can do it myself.’ But anyone who thinks this is a good old boys club, I’ll challenge that conception anytime,” the 35-year-old said.
Huskey, who also has a hunting cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, loves talking up the Brimley region and The Soo in particular as a vacation and fishing destination for families.
“The best thing about the St. Mary’s River there is we’re talking 95 miles of water. Every first and second week of June, Brimley Bay is a great walleye fishery. You’ll catch them in water from 6 to nine feet deep. All you have to do is put on a crankbait or crawler harness, put it 30 or 40 feet behind the boat, and you’re ready. Anyone can catch fish there at that time,” she says. “It pays, however, to have a good sonar system, and electronic maps like those made by Navionics, which have some obstacles not recorded on other map systems.”
Huskey has also taken on the important job of introducing the next generation to tournament fishing by coordinating a series of NPAA (National Professional Anglers Association; www.npaa.net) Youth Clinics. At each AIM event, kids received free rods and reels, and at some tourneys, lucky youths and their parents have gotten to fish with the pros.
Being a pro means a lot of responsibilities, and more than a lot of hours under the sun, on the water. However, Huskey is eager to prove herself, and her career choice, and improve on her accomplishments of this season.
“A lot of my friends do ask me ‘do you really love to fish that much,’ and my answer is always, simply yes.”
Contact her at www.mariannehuskey.com.
This story is the first of a series on the “Young Guns” of the AIM Pro Walleye Series™. The AIM Website will highlight several up-and-coming anglers on the circuit over the coming weeks. Watch for your favorite. A version of this article first appeared in Michigan’s Woods N Water News.