Hooks for Muskies
Pete Maina talks about what to look for in a good fish hook for Big Toothy Critters like Muskie and Pike. 02/12
Three Tactics for More Muskie
While many things in life and fishing are arguable (other than fish with teeth are really cool), I’ll offer that warm-water muskies are likely the most challenging, since so many different presentations can be effective. The key to the whole game is finding what they’re in the mood for on a given day or hour. Those who do it best realize the goal of having the most release photos to show off. Let’s look at three possibly not-so-popular methods to hold a muskie’s tail. 01/12
Muskie Fishing’s Late Fall Trolling Tradition
I admit it; I’m a sucker for tradition. That’s probably one of the reasons I love the fall time of year – it’s full of traditions like grouse hunting, deer hunting, trips to the pumpkin patch and of course, the Thanksgiving Holiday. It’s also a time of year when trolling for Muskies can traditionally be THE best way to put a real trophy fish in the net. This is especially true on the largest Muskie waters like the Bay of Green Bay, Lac Seul and Lake of the Woods to name a few. 11/11
Live Baiting Muskies
Live bait fishing is not often the first technique that pops into an angler’s head when thinking about muskie fishing. However, under certain conditions it can be the absolute best way to go, particularly in the cool water periods of early spring, late fall, or in severe cold front situations. 10/11
New Lures for Muskies
The realm of lures is ever-expanding, and especially-so on heavily pressured waters (and summer is nearly always the busiest for fishing too), this is a good thing for muskie anglers. No one knows for certain as to whether or not muskies think at all, or just react eventually to negative experiences – to not repeat them, but there is no doubt that fish learn to avoid certain things after a while. But, show them something they haven’t seen – that looks like something pretty good to eat and easy to catch – and the attitude is much more positive. 07/11
Speed up for Warm Water Muskies
In the warmer waters of summer, often something that will trigger … may turn a very lazy follow suddenly aggressive, or turn quiet trolling reels into noisy ones – is speed. Like anything, it’s not always what the fish want, but very often muskie anglers simply aren’t going fast enough to trigger reactions from muskies. The idea is simply to make them (muskies) think they’ll have no choice if they don’t react now. 06/11
Top water Tactics for Warm Water Muskies
Good friends Dick Pearson and Dan Craven both said it first (to my ears anyway): “The surface is an edge.” Big thing to keep in mind for summer muskies – and they are especially susceptible in the warm water period. Topwater presentations are overall underutilized, and especially so in the waves discussed. 05/11
Open Water Muskies
Fishing the “open water” or basically the middle of the lake (in many cases) for suspended summer muskies can be very effective. Like fishing after dark and fishing in big waves, there is little direct pressure (note a recurring theme here?) on these fish. Muskies will generally be living in the top 1/3 of the water column now (smaller pie to slice). 04/11
Using the wind
This is a big factor any time of year; I should say it can be. Of course there are many variables, an obvious one being lake size and whether or not wind is blowing. If it’s blowing little, it’s not a factor on any lake. But like fishing after dark, for those willing to put in a little extra effort and to know when it can really work for them, sustained wind and the wave action and the current it creates – can aide anglers.
Cover two zones
Edge fishing is common for all species of fish. Often, some of the better areas to target in a system that has them – are distinct breaklines from shallow to deep water. These become natural travel and cover zones; more specifically, fish often congregate on more extreme areas of irregular breaklines (sharp points and inside turns). It is common for anglers to position their boats on the edge of these breaklines and cast in shallow to structures and across the edge.
Night Fishing for Muskie
Muskies are never easy. We hear all kinds of things about what makes them tough to catch – and one of them is warm water, dog day summer conditions. But actually, in many ways, summer is my favorite time of year for muskies.
The Surface is an Edge
The surface of the water is an edge that predators learn to use. As they mature, they learn to use it more and more … the surface is often a place to target trophy specimens of all species. It’s the reason topwater lures can be so effective for muskie, pike and other species like bass and even walleyes. Predators have success, and remember it, because they often are able to catch prey fish right at the surface. The upward-fleeing prey has run out of real estate.
Fish of a Thousand Casts?
Not so in Kentucky, where it’s not only possible to boat a dozen muskie a day but have an honest crack at that trophy of a lifetime. Stories about muskie are the stuff of legend. Fish of a thousand casts. Anglers going a lifetime without ever hooking one. Phooey on that.
This subject is important for any species, but knowing how to properly use a net is especially important when it comes to big predators like muskie and northern pike. Done right, it’s the most effective and safest (for angler and fish) way to land and release fish. The ‘safest’ part is true – but based upon use of a quality, fish-friendly landing device, like the Frabill “Conservation Series” nets. (The net’s mesh must have a quality coating and large enough holding area at the base.) Play any fish with moderate-to-heavy pressure, to tire it out and prepare it for leading into the net.
Mandatory release (i.e. proactive regulations that require release of all fish, a majority of fish, certain size-structure ranges in a fish species…) is a popular management tool.
Baitfish and Fall Trolling For Walleye and Muskie
“You marking any bait?” is a popular question many anglers ask when talking about trolling for walleye or muskie. Finding baitfish schools being attacked by predators is an important angling skill for autumn trolling. I spoke with two well-known guides, a walleye expert and a muskie specialist, about fishing large pods of baitfish as a piece of fish-holding structure. What follows are some of their observations on the importance of baitfish and tips on autumn trolling strategies
Opening Day Muskie: You Can Troll, Too!
Trolling isn’t just a fall technique for muskie. During the entire season, no matter what month it is, some spots are laid out for casting, some for trolling and some for both. Early in the summer, all species have a lot of options. Food production is ramping up to seasonal highs. Surface temps are leveling out, and weeds are gaining their green, healthy momentum.
Are Dirty Little Muskies Really That Different?
I’ve got a lot less experience on dirty water for muskies than I do clear water, but for the small amount of time I put in on dirty lakes compared to clear, my success rate is pretty good. If I dedicated equal time to each, I think I’d have just as many fish in the net from both by the end of the season. Maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere. All the magazine rhetoric and worn-out clichés aside, is there really that huge of a difference finding and catching fish in dirty water versus clear? If you break it down piece by piece, I really don’t think there is. A few fundamental changes aside for each piece, muskies are muskies no matter where you fish them
Fall Muskie Casting
Picture of a Muskie being Released. Fall is a transition period and as autumn leaves change colours, many anglers switch almost exclusively to trolling for muskies from late September to ice-up. Yet the fall still holds plenty of casting opportunities and it’s the season for trophy fish. Casting in fall conditions is tough going; the trick is using effective baits for the cold water conditions. Here’s an overview of some top fall casting baits with some tips from three Ontario, muskie anglers
Muskies on Top
In the angling world the mighty muskie reigns supreme, conjuring up images of razor-sharp teeth, truly immense size and extraordinary power. For the avid anglers who are part of the muskie fraternity, fishing for these giants has become an obsessive trait that has literally turned into a way of life
Muskies & Reefs: Find A Place To Cast This Summer
I grew up calling them ‘shoals’ but everyone’s got their own name for this kind underwater structure: humps, bumps, bars and of course, reefs. They’re classic muskie spots and they’re as unique as the lakes they’re found in. No two are built exactly the same, but good ones just seem to be good ones no matter where you fish. There are also reefs that just never produce, sometimes within a few cast lengths of ones that consistently do.
Tough-Conditions Summer Muskies In Clear Water
Even when conditions are perfect, clear water can be tough water to fish. It can be mentally and physically crippling when you’re fishing muskies on clear water and skies or winds are unfavourable. Darker, more fertile lakes and rivers are more forgiving than clear ones, and populations are almost always higher. ‘Plan B’ is to simply pull off the water and try one once clear water begins wearing you down. Sticking to your guns, making adjustments and battling through it make that big, clear-water release all that much sweeter. There are things you can do beat tough bites.
Pike & Muskie: Try Open Water
Seasonal changes to lakes and rivers aren’t normally consistent from one year to the next. Yes, lakes will freeze and thaw, and they’ll also warm and cool. All of this is 100% guaranteed. In the fall, regardless of what the localized weather patterns have been, pike and muskies can be caught well off of the bottom, away from structure or using open water in any combination. Every type of water has factors that contribute to open water fishing. Some of them are available food, available structure and depth, structure types and even fishing/boating pressure. Every lake is different. But in early to mid-fall especially, suspended and open water fish have proven very reliable for me. (They’re out there in the summer, too). In rough or nasty fall conditions, the open water bite can be a great option.
Tools and Traits for Properly Releasing Muskie
Muskie fishing is one of the fastest growing areas in sport fishing today. Ask any long-time muskie angler if fishing pressure is increasing, or look at the growth of muskie lure manufacturers, and you’ll be convinced that muskie fishing is on the rise. With more anglers pursuing these predators every year, the need for proper releasing techniques is crucial to ensure the survival of post-release fish and sustain the sport fishery.
Timely Tips to Make Your Musky Hunt a Success
As the trees drop their leaves and the days grow colder, in-the-know musky anglers begin to congregate on their favourite waters to reap the rewards that the fall time offers – BIG plentiful muskies! Fall is the best time to hook into that fish of a lifetime, and by being prepared and having the right tools, your time on the water can be more productive and unforgettable.
Muskie fishing Throughout the seasons!
Musky are a fierce and cunning predator, yet are not as hard to catch as most people think. The start of June signals the beginning of ‘ski season in most parts of Ontario, and offers a tremendous shot at connecting with numbers of fish and quality fish too.
Turn Your Musky ‘Follows’ Into ‘Takers’
Musky fishing can be a funny game. An angler can spend many hours beating the water to a froth, only to have a musky finally appear, lazily trailing the bait then slowly disappearing out of sight. Musky follows are a common occurrence when chasing this majestic beast, however, there are a few tricks that can be utilized to turn those curious fish into solid takers. Try these tips when out on your next hunt and get ready to land your fair share of braggin’ size ‘skies.
Deep Trolling for Musky
Trolling for musky is a productive tactic throughout the season, but it is in the fall when this method lives up to its reputation: big musky! As water bodies cool and fish put on the feed bag, trolling deep-diving crankbaits is an excellent technique for increasing your chances of landing a trophy. Understanding fall musky behavior, using a strategy to target deep fish, and having proper equipment are three critical components to fall fishing success
Playing the “Size” Game With Musky
Musky fishing is literally a game of size. Searching for the lifetime fish that stretches beyond the fifty-inch mark on the tape, or a ‘ski that bottoms out the scale at thirty-pounds are targets we all strive for when out on the water. Lets face it – size does matter to a musky angler. But how about the size of the baits you throw at these fish in the hope of luring them in? There is a time and place for big baits and small in musky fishing, and learning the in’s and out’s will help you in attaining that fish of a lifetime.
Spinnerbaits for Muskie
One of the questions that I am often asked by clients, and at shows, is “What pike or muskie bait is the overall most effective bait for all seasons?” There is no hesitation in my answer; it is without any doubt, the spinnerbait.
Feed a Muskie a Spoon!
I started experimenting with spoons for muskies in 1993, after having witnessed their effectiveness for big chinook salmon on several occasions. I asked my many of peers in both U.S. and Canada about using spoons for muskies, and each time pretty much got the same response… “Oh, they’re great for pike, but muskies won’t touch ’em.” I found that a little hard to understand.