- Ron Schara
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Having caught muskie No. 100 recently, Libby Hoene, 14, is now cleared to enter the dating phase of her teen-age years. Well, that's not quite accurate.
"My mother now says I have to be 15," Libby grumbled.
"My dad said I could start dating when I caught my 100th muskie, but now he's siding with mom."
Oh, the trials and tribulations of Libby, Minnesota's teen queen of muskie fishing.
It all began innocently enough Oct. 10, 1996, the day 9-year old Libby caught a 48-inch muskie while fishing with her father, Tim, on Mille Lacs.
"I got bitten by the bug," she said, giggling. "It was a big bite."
Six fishing seasons later, Libby has passed the 100 mark for muskie caught (over 30 inches). She has landed 20 muskies longer than 48-inches, a foot shy of being as long as Libby is tall.
The biggest muskie of her yet-young fishing career is a 52-incher that weighed an estimated 36 pounds and still swims somewhere in a Twin City lake.
"I've never kept a muskie, ever," she said, adamantly.
"I know some are killed to put on the wall, but I figure if I want one for the wall I'd rather have a graphite replica."
What's more, Libby is still waiting to catch one big enough for the wall.
"I'm never gonna quit," she said, of her muskie pursuits.
"It's a feeling. In 99 percent of the lakes we fish, I know in my bones there's a 53- or a 54- or a 55-incher out there.
"I've lost bigger fish. Last year in the Mille Lacs muskie tournament, I think I lost the winner. It was about 55 to 57 inches. It jumped out of the water like a marlin and shook the bait."
Libby is a ninth-grader in Coon Rapids, but she already has an advanced degree in muskie fishing.
"I'm not a fluke," she said. "When I set the goal of 100 muskies, so many people said I'd never be able to do it.
"I just said, 'I'm gonna do it.'"
If Libby wanted to prove she could catch muskies as well as anybody else, the pudding is long gone. She is a confirmed muskie addict and her father is a constant fishing companion.
"I've never caught a muskie where my dad wasn't present," she said.
"But I don't go fishing just to please my dad."
When we last chatted, Libby had caught muskie No. 102 the night before. She said she's thinking about a new muskie goal maybe 200 muskies. Libby also is thinking about her future dates.
"He's going to have to endure long hours of casting for muskies like I do," she warned.
Dutch treat: Bring your own jerkbaits.
In April, May and June 2002 the Backroads with Ron & Raven short feature airs Saturdays at 7:55 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
With her 100th catch, perhaps her parents consider her old enough to date.