Encompassing a town built upon scientific anomaly, the hybrid riverine reservoir provides a near perfect synthesis of seasonal thermal regime for the Muskies stocked there beginning in 1998. A relatively small middle child impoundment of the Clinch river, I affectionately refer to it as “Push-Me/Pull-Me”, due to the 3 day water retention between the upper Norris Dam, fueling it with the coldest trout mitigation fishery tail water in the state at an extremity numbing 46 degrees, and plunging into the channel until it comes up for air again below Melton Hill’s hydroelectric dam 20 miles later. This makes for a musky science fair project run amuck, where temps can be 75 degrees in areas in the dead of winter due to Bull Run steam plant and into the 50s in the doldrums of summer when the upper dam is flushed. Blessed and cursed with a near constantly changing current condition, this tumultuous influence never let’s the water stratify even in the lower reaches, and the cold water is highly oxygenated due to the weir dam upstream, allowing for life to traverse throughout the water column at its whim. Nothing is off limits. A trifecta of 3 reservoir types: run-of-the-river, lowland, and highland throughout its course, it leaves no shortage of topographical complexities to study and explore, and literally thousands of potential niche ecosystems for dragons to lurk in. Even at only 5500 acres…it fishes like a water thrice it size.
As far as the musky hunting itself goes, a 50″ limit and moderate stocking level creates a trophy muskellunge water that produces fish rivaling anywhere within their range, and keeps its secrets well because of the artificial variables in place. Melton Hill is a virago, chewing up moon phases, frontal systems, and patterns, and spitting them out like an unruly toddler in the form of a pasty mush that was once your frontal lobe.
Yet as they say, the highest branches most often bear the most succulent of fruits, and the usual standards of a typical day musky fishing, with several follows, a couple hookups, and perhaps an encounter with a fish over 45″…and amplifies them on both ends of the spectrum: you may not get the feedback you do on most waters, but when you do….it’s usually the fish of most people’s lifetimes.
Even on the extreme southern borders of the dragon’s keep, Melton Hill is truly the world’s only year-round musky fishery, a “Goldilocks complex” if you will: never too hot, never too cold, always just right. Combine that with the “36-24-36″ topographical physique, Melton Hill is truly a brick house of a musky fishery that has produced many 48″-54” Muskies in my boat alone and time will only tell what horrors Frankenstein’s monster will unleash upon the world from its unassuming demeanor.