"Time on The Water"…….a review……

Brad Walker, a long time VBL guest, rod maker and Wisconsin muskie guide (www.tealriverrods.com) mailed me this copy of muskie classic “Time On The Water” by Bill Gardner. I said I would read it over the winter, and between glasses of wine and fattening cookies, the Christmas holidays allowed me to peruse this book. To elevate the “Electric Beaver” out of gutter, and into more of a cerebral plane, I offer this review of one one man’s effort to catch “the big one”!

The book is based on Bill Gardner’s decision to quit his job and move to the Hayward area to spend one full season to fish for, and attempt to catch, a trophy muskie. Written as a daily diary it documents the futile efforts of trying to catch a decent fish in Wisconsin. To be fair, this was in 1983 and any keeper (30 inches ?) was most likely clubbed and put on display at the local tackle shop freezer. This attitude was beginning to change but it was obvious that years of killing everything has taken it’s toll……it seems to be a big deal just to catch a northern during a day of fishing! I don’t want to ruin the ending for those wanting to read this, but let’s just say that Bill should probably have kept his job.

While I found the fishing described in the book painful at best, and seriously depressing at worse, at least from my Eagle Lake point of view, it does paint a picture of muskie fishing history. It also points out accurately the difficulty of connecting to a really big muskie. This should probably be required reading to those who’s expectations are based on the bull-crap dealt out by “some” muskie magazines or by fishing websites that give the impression of abundant giant “hawg lunge“. On the bright side it sure made it clear just how lucky I am to spend my time fishing on a lake such as Eagle.


10 thoughts on “"Time on The Water"…….a review……

  1. Hi Gord…I commend you for reading a book and offering a review while drinking wine and feasting on fattening cookies. And I'm inspired by your intellectual rigor and ability to multi-task. However, I'm doubtful that this effort will elevate the Electic Beaver out of the gutter, and believe a different result is more likely. Numerous medical studies have proven that too much of this kind of thing can lead to mental derangement and enlargement of one's ass. Please exercise caution.

  2. Reading a book…….that reminds me of the story of the recent tragic library fire in the Professor's home town of Edgerton, Wi. Apparently both books went up in flames, including the one the Professor was in the middle of coloring!!

    I've noticed since the supposed need for reading glasses has reared it's ugly head, the amount of reading I do has dropped off somewhat. I've found that with sufficient light and long enough arms I can still manage pretty well. Not sure how this will work in the fish-house this summer…..

  3. Hey! Gord;
    Thanks for the book review.
    I really don't enjoy this kind of a book.
    I always get the feeling this style of book really needs a good editor and exciting cover art.
    The Muskie Chronicles are a good selection of books to read about Wisconsin muskie fishin'.
    I agree with you Gord. The waters of Eagle Lake are amazing. The numbers of following muskie are inspiring.
    I recently read the Beaver 2010 newletter for the lodge.
    It has an amazing selection of the variety of sizes of fish you may catch in the area.I like the humour too.
    Charles in Toronto

  4. OK lot to cover here so where to begin….
    First off 2010 Beaver newsletter where the HELL is mine?

    Now you guy's have to get off those fancy words you are using I read this blog to enjoy not to figure out what the HELL you are saying and have to wait till the end of the paragraph. Man go easy on some of us PLEASE…….

    My take on this is that the book tells of how hard it is to catch a trophy musky in Wisconsin and yea it probably is true but things seem to be getting better by fishing different body of waters.Such as the Bay of Green Bay which is growing some huge fish these day's.

    I started fishing musky when I was 7 so that would be 42 years ago this summer and I can remember when you would go to town in Hayward or other parts of Northern Wisconsin and when at the bait shop yea they would have a cooler outside or just inside that would show off the large fish caught from all species, I then thought that was cool well when your that young we all thought that but now I hope I never see that again cause I probably would not do business in that shop cause of the same reasons we all believe… CATCH AND RELEASE those larger fish so they can grow to become records….

    All in all sounds like it might make for some good read and Gord I feel you pain need more light and hold paper arms length away in order to read… Sucks getting old don't it?

  5. Perchmaster……a lot to cover…your Beaver is coming….a cerebral plane does not have wings……yes, muskie fishing in Wisconsin has improved (if you really need help in that hire Brad Walker to guide you)…..man are you old…and yes it does suck…

    Any other questions?

  6. Professor, I propose you consider writing a book on walleye fishing using the same diary layout. You could call it "Time With a Crawler…One's Man's Quest For a 30 Inch Walleye". Perhaps the missus would fund such an endeavor? I would be happy to provide you with a base camp for this expedition.

  7. Just got the mail when I was out cooking dinner on the grill and the BEAVER IS HERE!!!!!!
    Now to sit down and see if I get some laughs out of it.
    Seeya time to read the BEAVER……………

    Why would I hire a guide I am an unlicensed guide already? HAHA!!!

    Any other questions?
    And yes I am getting old just like you we age well Gord and can't wait to see the quest for a 30" walleye by the Professor now that would be some great read and just think of all those pics with the gloved one.

  8. Not to brag. O.k., maybe to brag a little bit. If the professor were to write a book on the pursuit of a 30" walleye, it would be a short story at best. Honestly, hardly a year goes by now that we don't get at least a few walleyes in that class in the boat. It used to be a goal. Now its a yardstick. I don't know why, but I have gotten away from musky fishing. Probably old age. However, I'm thinking that a goal of a 50" musky might be a better challenge. I have caught a few in the 44-45" range without really trying. Once you set a goal like that it can be very addictive. I'm not willing to give up on the multi-species opportunities on Eagle, but I think I need to spend at least one day each trip pursuing that monster. Maybe you need to come up with a trifecta pin for VBL: awarded to those that catch a 30" walleye, 30" lake trout, 50" musky? It might take a lifetime, but it would be a worthy goal. Or maybe one should be allowed to substitute a 12" perch?


  9. Hi Gord…Please don't tease me about spending an entire season at VBL to chase monster walleyes. I've got half a mind to take you up on this idea. Unfortunately, this would send the missus directly to the warpath and into a psychological state that experts may consider borderline homicidal. Losing my marriage is one thing, but losing my life over a walleye is too much.

  10. 12" Perch think that should be stepped up to 14 or 15" Perch….
    He should give a VBL pin for achieving anyone of those catagory's…
    What you think Gord?
    Maybe a VBL T-shirt should be made up for this contest?
    A special board in the lodge might be a good idea with a picture of the angler with there trophy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Keep up to date with The Electric Beaver, The Official Eagle Lake Blog since 2008

Read Now


If you like GREAT fishing, hospitality and affordability, Vermilion Bay Lodge is highly recommended. I have been making the trip to Vermilion Bay Lodge for the past 10 years and have never once been disappointed. If you like great walleye, northern, musky and trout fishing, this place should not be overlooked. The fishing has been excellent… no matter what time we went. Gordy and Susanne are wonderful hosts that will make you feel right at home. Check it out – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.


Receive latest news articles