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For the Love of Catching Muskie: Lisa Tenney

February 27, 2018
By Larry Claypool - OVO Editor , Ohio Valley Outdoors

Enchanting stories of ferocious, toothy creatures that are so hard to catch were not enough to get Lisa Tenney excited about fishing for muskellunge. The "stories of ferocious, toothy creatures" came from her dad and grandfather after they'd fishing for muskies for decades. Simply, Tenney had to experience the thrill for herself.

A bass fisherman for most of her life, she's 45 now, it took an innocent fishing trip with her father in 2013 that changed her fishing focus forever.

"When I hooked my first muskie of 29 inches, while fishing for bass with my dad, I saw it plain as day. I saw it come out from under a tree and grab my lure. The fight was on. It jumped several times, and took big runs," said Tenney. "It was a fight that I had never experienced with any other kind of fish. I was hooked. By catching that muskie, I was pulled into another direction fishing. Bass fishing was no longer exciting to me."

Article Photos

Lisa Tenney with a giant muskie she caught in 2017. Tenney, of Belpre, OH, finished No. 1 nationally year ago in the Muskies Inc. Women’s Division with 649 points. He largest muskie to date is 45.5'. Photo courtesy of Lisa Tenney

Tenney's background for fishing started when she was very young. Born and raised in Mineral Wells, WV, she fished the banks of local rivers and creeks with her parents. Her dad purchased a Bass Tracker boat when she was in late grade school. They began fishing exclusively for bass. Her parents started fishing bass tournaments together but she lost interest during her teenage years. She picked up fishing again, in her early 20s, after her mother passed away.

"Dad and I spent a tremendous amount of time fishing for bass after mom died. It is how we coped. I had always been good at fishing, but this is the time that I really started to refine my skills and come up with my own style of fishing," said Tenney, who now lives in Belpre, Ohio.

After her dad got re-married and Tenney took a job at DuPont, working different shifts, her fishing days were idled for a few years.

Fact Box

Her first full year of targeting muskies, 2016, she caught 24 muskies, with the biggest being 44-inches.

Tenney's fishing gear was unpacked again in 2012 when she bought her first boat, "a simple 12' plastic boat". "I had a blast in it," Tenney said. "On June 20, 2013, I had an experience I'll never forget. I hooked into my first muskie! It was also the first time I had taken my dad fishing instead of the other way around," said Tenney.

From there Tenney's love for catching muskie grew. "I had to catch more muskies, bigger muskies! I kept fishing that same area with similar lures and catching small ones," she said. "The addiction grew. Most that muskie fish call it an addiction. It is an adrenaline rush to catch fish so big, fast and powerful as the muskie.

"Catching small ones was fun, but I wanted to catch bigger ones," added Tenney. "I started doing research. A lot of research. I bought much heavier gear, release tools, a bigger boat (the one I have now), and lures. Lots and lots of lures."

Her first full year of targeting muskies, 2016, she caught 24 muskies, with the biggest being 44-inches. She met some members of Muskies Inc. (non-profit group of dedicated muskie fishermen and women) and they convinced her to join. Last year was her first year as a member of the Chapter 09 group. They are based in West Virginia, one of two in the state.

There are 59 Muskies Inc. chapters in the United States. Ohio and Pennsylvania have five chapters each. Find them online at:

Tenney had an impressive first year with Muskies Inc. She netted 59 legal muskies (a muskie over 30") with an average length of 37" for a total of 649 points. Ten of those muskies were Husky Muskies (a muskie over 42").

"My largest muskie to date is 45.5". I finished No. 1 nationally last year in the Women's Division with 649 points. Second place had 430 points," said Tenney.

The Tenney File:

Equipment: Rods - Berkley Big Game (trolling) w/ Okuma Convector Line Counter reels, heavy bass rods ("I'm smaller in stature therefore I do not like big muskie rods."); Reels - Abu Garcia (when casting) Revo Toro S, Revo Toro Winch, Revo Toro Beast; Line - Power Pro Braided 80lb w/ Stealth fluorocarbon leaders (150lb test). Boat - Lund 1875 Impact Sport w/ Honda 150hp & Honda 9.9hp kicker, both 4-stroke. Go-to lures - Boss Shad of Chardon, Ohio. Follow Lisa Tenney on Facebook.

About Muskies, Inc.:

Is an active, service-oriented, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for men, women and children with the single focus of improving the sport of Muskie fishing everywhere. Founded in 1966 by Gil Hamm, the original group of 13 avid muskie fisherman concentrated on continual improvement of the muskie resource through rearing and stocking efforts, and sound conservation practices. Today, departments of natural resources have realized the value of stocking muskies. There are 37 of the lower 48 states with active muskie stocking programs. Ohio has one of the top DNR stocking programs in the country.

About Ohio DNR's muskie program:

Muskie are stocked in 10 reservoirs in Ohio, nine of these are stocked by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and one (Pymatuning Lake) is stocked by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. Ohio stocks approximately 20,000 8-12 inch muskie each fall in the nine program reservoirs to maintain these fisheries. Muskie are native to Ohio and naturally reproduce in a limited number of streams and rivers in Ohio.



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