The way Tony Grant tells it, he turned to fishing as a hobby to get away from work, almost 30 years ago. But when the Internet killed off his phone book business, he turned that hobby into a career and started a guide service.
Now managing multiple websites to promote not only his guide services, but trade shows, educational opportunities, custom lures, and the Mountain Muskie Lodge, Tony uses the Internet to help maintain his business.
Since 1992, Tony’s business has catered to anglers in pursuit of muskie, short for muskellunge, and the largest member the pike family.
“I’ve heard it takes 14 days to catch one, but it’s my job to cut that down,” Tony explains. Muskie are also called “the fish of 10,000 casts.”
“The key to being a good fishing guide is having a good book of excuses,” Tony says. “The key to being a really great fishing guide is knowing who you use each one on.”
Tony estimates that there are around 200,000 people who fish for muskie 10 or more days each year. Of those, maybe 5 percent are female, though that may be shifting. Vickie Banks loved the area so much she retired here around 10 years ago, and now fishes 20 to 30 days each year.
“I came here to fish with a boyfriend–I liked it, but not him,” Vickie says.
But it’s more than the thrill of the catch that brings Tony’s regulars back.
“I’m here because of him,” says Louie Friedman, of Queens, New York, who travels down twice a year to fish the lake. “He’s one of the best in the world.”
Without prompt, Tony talks at length about muskie, recalling tales of past adventures, details about their habits and behavior, and highlighting the successes of his friends and clients—all while keeping quiet about his own accomplishments. He shrugs off the praise and tells Louie to get back to fishing.