Musky America Magazine June 2023 Edition Thank you for visiting Musky America Magazine! Musky season is upon us! It is time to test out those new lures you bought at the Musky shows. In this edition, you will find articles meant to re-kindle memories of seasons past and the tactics that may help you find success on the water. Did you have a 2022/23 Musky adventure? Share that adventure and write an article! Each day of the Musky season, anglers experience encounters on the water that can provide insights for all of us Musky anglers. We are offering $10.00 for your article. For information about submitting articles for inclusion in Musky America Magazine, please CLICK HERE! Craig Sandell Owner and Fellow Musky Angler The Icons shown here are at the bottom of the Magazine pages. *All Rights Preserved©*
Musky Hunter Magazine Has A New Look By: Craig Sandell © 2023 If you hadn’t noticed, Musky Hunter Magazine has a new look and is under new management. This new look, and its break from the past by concentrating only on online options, has upset, and confused many folks who are devotees to the magazine. As Musky anglers, we are veracious consumers of any information that could lead to a successful encounter with our Musky friend. Long time subscribers to the magazine have likely kept every issue. Given that past issues of the magazine are already in the hands of subscribers, it seems unlikely that those subscribers would be sympathetic to paying for the same information again. It is noteworthy that there are other online options for getting Musky information that do not require your money or personal information. I am pleased to be able to point to Musky America Magazine as the premier online location for a wide range of Musky angling information. Each month, Musky America Magazine posts articles that highlight monthly tactics and Musky history at no charge. It has long been my belief that, as Musky anglers, we deserve to have access to Musky fishing information without getting our wallet assaulted.
Early Season Musky Tips For Bucktails By Craig Sandell©2017 Real early spring musky fishing will generally be slow until the fish have spawned and some warmer weather hits. However, when the fish finally become active, the best approach seems to be smaller lures including smaller bucktails. When I say small, I am generally referring to lure lengths of fewer than 5 inches. A small lightweight spinner is very appealing to a musky’s light appetite in this early season. Many spring Muskies have been taken on small bucktails. Their smallness makes them an easy lure to work all day long, plus they really hook fish well, and yes, they do indeed take some big fish. One of the biggest drawbacks to using small bucktails for Muskies is their lack of weight and strength in construction. I do not recommend attempting to tackle spring Muskies with light action gear. Unless you are a very accomplished angler, the odds are just not in your favor. Being able to utilize a standard musky outfit with the smaller bucktail is to your advantage for hook setting, fighting the fish, and just plain keeping him on your line. A smart choice in tackle would include 50 or 80 pound TufLine, and a solid wire leader gauge of .029 which is greater than 80 pound test. Make certain, however, that the leader is equipped with a top quality snap and swivel (Don't try to get by on the cheap).
Top areas to fish for spring Muskies would include warm shallow mud bays with plenty of backwater areas. These backwater areas are used by the musky for spawning. Any adjacent points, bars, weed patches, or weed beds, and wooded areas could also be feeding hotspots. Sometimes a shallow rock bar near the spawning area will hold a nice Musky early in the year. Big female Muskies will quickly vacate the shallows after spawning and take up temporary residence on such adjacent spots. Very often, these fish fall victim to the spring walleye angler using a small jig and minnow combination…Most of the time these monsters just simply bite off or break the line. But once in a while they’re hooked in the lip and tangle with a good fisherman who eventually wins and lands a 30 pound class Musky. These areas are better fished with small musky lures like bucktails worked close to the bottom with a relatively slow retrieve (you may want to use a reel with a slower retrieve ratio). Fast retrieves and high riding lures are not nearly as productive in the spring. The best retrieve for spring Muskies is slow and deep. By deep, I mean working the lure deep enough to stay just above cover or the actual bottom. If the water is stained, you would do best by bumping the low cover as much as possible.
There will be other situations when fishing spring Muskies where you will be faced with working your lure through emergent shallow cover like exposed brush and timber, lily pads, and reeds or bulrushes. In this case a treble hook lure may not be the best choice even if you are using a weedless treble configuration. Treble hooks will not work well through this type of cover. A better lure choice for this type of fishing would be a single hook spinnerbait. A larger, heavy duty model bass spinnerbait with either tandem blades or a large single blade would be a good choice with a weight of at least ¾ ounce. Single hook spinnerbaits have an up riding hook and a semi-protective overhead wire arm that also helps to prevent fouling of the lure (some have stinger hooks which you may want to remove). Spinnerbaits are tailor made for this type of cover. You can pitch them using a short sturdy rod engaging the retrieve just as the bait hits the water...this will also help to keep the spinnerbait from fouling. They can be cast into and worked right through all types of emerging cover with very few hang ups. Tight Lines
Fishing The Wisconsin River By Craig Sandell © 2013 This September, I had the extreme pleasure and opportunity to fish with one of the premier guides on the Wisconsin River, Brad Wirt. I have never had the opportunity to fish any of Wisconsin’s rivers for Musky and this was a new experience for me. The very first thing that I noticed was the absence of a prop on the 4 stroke motor mounted on Brad’s boat. The prop was replaced with a jet nozzle which allows the boat to travel at normal speeds even in very “skinny” water. The next thing that stood out was the power pole shallow water anchors. Brad said that these were a necessary addition to his 18’ John boat in order to be able to anchor the boat against the fast moving current of the river. We started out from the Brokaw public boat landing and took a 20 minute ride up the Wisconsin River. It was an adventure traveling at 27 MPH and looking over the side of the boat to see rocks and hard bottom just inches under the lightly stained water. Once we got to where we would begin our downriver trek, my reeducation of lure presentation began. Because the water is
‘skinny’ surface baits are among the regularly used lures. I am used to bringing surface lures through the water at a leisurely to moderate pace. When I began to fish as I usually do, Brad corrected my presentation. Brad mentioned that river Musky are used to having their prey move through the water quickly. He also mentioned that by casting forward of the current flow, you would have to move the lure at a fast rate to keep it in the ‘ambush zone’. As I followed Brad’s casting directions with my Globe, I gained a new perspective on surface bait retrieval. My globe became a completely “different” lure when retrieved at a faster pace. The lure took on the characteristic sound of a ‘tail slapping’ lure that you would get from a tallywacker or top raider. I then tried my Crawler. I have always advertised my crawler as a creeper type lure that you can crank without having it roll in the water. When I cast it into the fast moving current of the river, the lure lived up to my advertising and more. Throughout the day, I tried a wide variety of lures in the fast current. I came to believe that I have been denying myself a presentation dimension when I engaged “traditional” retrieve speeds for surface lure. During our trip on the river we had action from 7 Musky but did not put any in the boat; but I was not disappointed. I learned a valuable lesson about lure presentation that I applied when I returned to fish the Chippewa Flowage…But that is a different adventure. Tight lines
Brad Wirt is an excellent Wisconsin River Guide for all species of fish. Visit Brad’s Facebook page.
Early Season Dark & Clear Water Tactics By Al Denninger © 2011 "Water Wolf," "Green Lightning," "Freshwater Barracuda," or just plan Musky; whatever you call him, his time has come. To say that the Musky is an important Wisconsin game fish would be a gross understatement. Entire economies of some towns in northern Wisconsin rest solidly on the thick back of the Musky. In these towns, the major industry most often is the resort business…a business that prospers with the catch of a large fish or declines with the imposition of poor fishery policy. This is the fish that has completely changed people’s lives. It has given fortune and glory to some, and to others, financial ruin or the loss of their happy home. Dark Water Early Season Tactics Most of the action centers on the dark water lakes, rivers, and flowages due to the fact that they are the first to experience warming. Musky prefer 68-72 degree water temperature. Dark water bodies of water will reach this before deep clear water lakes.
A few of the better bets for early season waters would be Moose Lake, which is excellent in May and early June. In addition, Ghost, Lost Land, and teal turn on fast in the early part of the season. Suggested lures are small bucktails and down sized Rapalas and Crane baits. Surface bait action starts out slow, but if you do throw one, make it a slow moving one like a ZZ Topper, or any similar top water lures. Another early season chain is the Spider Chain. Here you can use larger crank baits as you work the shoreline weeds. Fish are very weed oriented in this chain. Even the Walleyes act as though they were bass. Fallen trees are also spots where small bucktails can be very effective. Of course, the Chippewa Flowage, with its dark water usually starts producing nice fish from opening day. A quick look at the Chip’s track record says it all…look at the Musky charts from Indian Trail Resort for perspective. There is always a chance that you will tie into a big early season fish, however, most early season fish are males that range from 36 – 41 inches. Places that I would look for early season Musky action are cattail points, stump areas, and floating bogs that are hung up on stumps…you’ll find fish hanging around these spots. Also, if the water is high, shorelines with fallen trees in 12 inches of water are worth a few casts. Clear Water Tactics Spawning areas are the key. If you can find shallow bays with remnant vegetation, you’ll be on your way to finding fish. Musky will spawn in water temperatures from 48-56 degrees. Spawning usually takes place in shallow bays on bottom muck,
preferably in an area with sunken logs and stumps. Eggs are dropped in 6-18 inches of water. My first area to check out would be these bays. Keep moving out to the edge of the bays where drop offs occur. If the fish have vacated the bays, look for them in the nearest green weed patch where the weeds are 24 inches high or more. In all cases, 5-7 inch minnow baits and small to medium bucktails are good lure choices. A good approach is to use Crane, Slammer, or Hi Finn Sidewinder lures twitched on the surface and reeled or jerked 12 feet…then let them rise to the surface. My favorite is the Skimmer bucktail. This bait accounts for some of the most consistent action. Perch color on clear lakes and purple or gray crappie on dark water. Plan B If, after trying the shallows without success, it may be that the fish have moved temporarily to deeper water because of weather of boat traffic. A trick that has saved the guide day for me on more than one occasion is using a feather tailed lure like the Mepps Marabou. I’ll locate fish cribs on my electronics, and using the rip/flutter method, jig this bait around the cribs. Musky hanging around these underwater ‘fast food buffets’ can be triggered into striking by the erratic action of the bait.
The Making Of A Memory By Craig Sandell © 2022 It was June and time to revisit the folks at Indian Trail Resort. I had been fishing for about 2 weeks…well, the wind made it unsafe to be on the water for at least 5 days of the two weeks. There are some really accomplished Musky anglers who stay at Indian Trail Resort, so the low number of Musky registered at the resort was not typical. The wind and rolling storm fronts had many of us drowning our disappointment at the bar. I have been fishing out of the resort for about 33 years, spending most of my fishing time learning the East side of the Chippewa Flowage. Over the years, I have developed a “dance card” of spots that have produced fish in the past…some successes and some disappointments. It was June 27th and the weather finally decided to cooperate with light winds, light evening overcast and a storm front on the horizon. I had planned to go out around 8pm and do some night fishing but the weather forecast showed some unsettled weather about then. I decided to hit the water about 6:30 to beat the weather. I hit my first “dance card” spot and threw everything I could over and around the weed bed that was off an island point…No Luck. I pulled up my bow mount trolling motor and slowly motored off the spot on my way to spot #2 on my list. As I approached spot #2, I noticed some folks haunting the spot…they weren’t fishing but the water was well disturbed. I moved on the spot #3.
Spot #3 is a sheltered bay with a lot of water personality. That is to say, it has a rocky point on the entrance to the bay with deep water as well as a substantial weed bed toward the back of the bay. Last year in September, I tied into a really nice fish on a Hawg Wobbler in this bay. I usually fish by myself, so fighting a fish with one hand while trying to manipulate the net, had me doing what I call the ‘Musky dance’. I got anxious because the fish was not hooked well. I tried to horse it into the net…I lost the fish on a bad net job. As you might suspect, my fishing ego was crushed. So, as I pulled up on the bay, the memory of last year’s failure still haunted me. I was determined to not repeat the failure should I be able to coax a Musky onto one of the Toppers that I make. I came off the rocky point and slowly cast toward the weed bed at the back of the bay. There was a slight ripple on the water. About 7:30 I got to the outside of the weed bed and tossed my lure in an area where I had caught a 37 incher a couple of years back. I was lulled into the routine of casting and retrieving…not really expecting eminent action as a Musky came out of the deep water in the bay and attacked my lure. The Musky hit and immediately dove down. I couldn’t see the fish, but I could feel it shaking its head as it tried to free itself from the 3/0 VMC treble hooks on the lure.
After a tug of war with the beasty, I was able to bring it to the surface. I gasped…it was a nice big fish. The Musky went down again and was inspecting the bottom of the boat. I let out some line while keeping the rod tip high to give it some room to move and lessen the chance that it would straighten a hook. I still hadn’t seen how well it was hooked. I tussled with it for a bit and then its head broke the surface with my lure firmly in its mouth, and then it went down again. When it came back up at the front of the boat, it banged its head into the boat as it tried to dislodge the lure. I knew I had to get it under enough control to get it in the net before its efforts to dislodge the lure were successful. Fighting the fish with the rod in one hand and the unfurled net in the other hand, I was doing the ‘Musky dance’ again. I was finally able to maneuver the fish toward the net. I dipped the net into the water and got three quarters of the fish into the net. Remembering my failed net job from last year, I tossed down the rod and grabbed the rim of the net, getting the rest of the fish in the bag. My exhilaration was short lived. I now had to get the fish out of the net to get a measurement and a picture. The fish was still ‘green’ and I couldn’t safely get my hand under the gill plate. The last resort for me was to wrestle the fish into the boat while it was still in the net, something I just don’t like to do. Once the fish was in the boat, I was able to get the fish under control using my FishPic. I struggled to get the fish on the bump-board, and it measured a beefy 45 inches. A quick picture and then the fish went back into the water.
The fish was out of the water longer than I like and its lethargic condition meant that an extended time to revive it would be required. The wind had pushed the boat into the weedy shoreline, meaning that there was likely good oxygen rich water in which to release the fish. It took a little TLC for the fish to get back in control of itself, and with a gentle squeeze of the tail, it wagged its way off into the stained water. I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been to handle a larger fish by myself. Tight Lines.
Lure Selection...A Monthly Profile By: Craig Sandell © 2017 The table shown below is the basis for the graphs that display a picture of lure production over the seasonal months. May June July Aug. Sept. Oct. Bucktail 12 128 77 124 107 16 Surface 2 93 102 188 153 4 Crank 16 16 13 17 19 18 Jerk 1 7 11 16 37 25 Live 7 2 4 3 28 74 The chart shown on the next page provides a more detailed perspective on what lures worked well for each of the months of the season. As you can see, there are some predictable lure patterns in the chart presentation. One of the interesting patterns, though, is related to crank baits.
The interesting thing is not the number of Musky caught on crank baits. What is interesting is that even though the crank bait catch quantities for each month are generally low, the productivity of the crank bait was consistent over 6 of the 7 months of the season. Although trolling is allowed on the Chippewa Flowage, the crank bait does not get a lot of use because of the relatively shallow water and the abundance of sub-surface clutter even in the deeper river channels. This study would seem to indicate that a crank bait is a good lure choice for almost any time, assuming you are fishing the type of cover and depth of water most conducive to the crank bait. Not surprisingly, bucktails and surface baits account for the majority of the Musky caught over the Musky season. The study shows that bucktails and surface baits are producers, however, you MUST keep in mind that these are classic Musky bait categories. The high numbers of Musky caught on them could be related to the fact that more people are fishing with these types of lures than with other lure types. The jerk bait also shows some productivity over 6 of the 7 months of the season although
September and October have higher catch totals than the other months for the jerkbaits. Once again, this could be related to the fact that not as many people fish jerk baits as other lure types. Personally, I didn't have confidence in the use of the jerkbait, until relatively recently. Once I started using the jerk bait, I found that it produced Musky and was productive in almost any condition of weather and structure. The live bait catch information is not a surprise either. Late in the season is live bait time, however, many people swear by the technique of hanging a sucker over the side, while casting other lure types, throughout the Musky season or what is referred to as "Suckering Musky". Well, are bucktails and surface baits the most productive lures? The catch statistics would appear to tell us that, however, we need to be sure that we are not "shortchanging" other lure types. What is the best approach to lure selection? When I fish, I have 3 rods set up with different line weights, different reels with different retrieve ratios and different lure types. I try to balance the use of each of the artificial lure types, depending, of course, on the condition and depth of the water and the prevailing weather.
Musky Lure Selection...A Weather Profile Note: This data applies to Musky caught by cast, NOT trolling ! The conventional wisdom of Muskylore is that overcast days and rough water represent the best chance for a Musky catch. In deed, the data does show that overcast days do have good Musky production. It is, however, significant to note that partly cloudy (and therefore partly sunny) days also have very good Musky production. If you add up the Musky caught on clear and partly cloudy days, you will get a total of 488 fish from the study. Overcast days accounted for 517 fish. That is not that much of a difference in productivity between these two major weather factors. Once again, crank baits, put in a respectable catch record for clear days, given the fact that crank baits are not the lure of choice on the Chippewa Flowage. The table below will provide you some perspective: Clear Haze/Fog Overcast Partly Cloudy Rain Stormy Bucktail 14 43 190 72 26 17 Surface 157 49 214 78 19 25 Crank 45 6 28 14 1 4 Jerk 26 6 43 11 2 9 Live 48 7 42 23 9 3 Totals: 290 111 517 198 57 58
Is there a lure type better suited to a particular weather condition? The numbers in this study don't show any. If anything, the study supports the balanced approach to lure use. Although weather is important to the Musky hunt, it is equally important to be prepared to use a variety of lures for the same weather conditions. Lure selection, based upon the structure being fished, appears to be the approach to take rather than allowing the weather to dictate a particular lure type. Time Of Day Is there a lure type that is more productive at a certain time of day? Based on what we have seen so far in the study information, one would suspect not. Well, numbers are full of little surprises. It turns out that there is one type of lure that is a better performer based upon the time of day. Surface baits are better performers during the evening hours. The fact that surface baits are designed to emulate, in many instances, small animals, coupled with the fact that many of
these small animals find fading light a comfort to their safety, could account for this evening productivity boom in surface baits. Also, consider that most Musky anglers find comfort in using a lure that they can hear when it is pitch black. All of the other lure types spread productivity pretty evenly over the fishing day. Once again, crank baits provided good activity throughout the day & evening. A Quick Summary We have looked at lure selection from a few different angles. We have seen that, with the exception of surface lures in the evening, no lure type enjoys a clear selection advantage. It would appear as though the high percentage approach to lure selection is the approach that puts you in the position to use at least two different lure types for any pass over a particular piece of structure. The selection of lure color depends as much upon the color of the water that you are fishing as the personal preference of the person doing the fishing. In the final analysis, lures are a very personal thing to a Musky angler. We all have lure types and colors in which we have confidence. We all tend to use the lures with which we have had success. This little article has shown that being prepared to use any of the lure types in which you have confidence will give you the best shot at a muskie. There are no sure things when it comes to fishing for Musky, except perhaps, that you'll work hard to raise one and even harder to hook one and get him in the boat.
Is It Party Time? Or Is It Musky Time? Rob Meusec © 2020 We have all been there. You know what I mean. Your boat partner can't get up in the morning…. Your day of fishing has been cut short…You are embarrassed by your partners boat etiquette…. This may sound familiar to you. It's all too familiar to me. I was fishing in a musky tournament. It was Sunday morning, and our 2-man team was 4 inches short of first place going into the last day. My partner was out late the night before and was partying pretty hard and stumbled into our cabin about 2:30AM. The tournament hours for the last day were 7:00AM to 12:30 PM. I was up and ready to go at 5:30AM and started getting my buddy up. It was his boat we were using. I tried and tried to get him going but nothing would work. He was trashed and down for the count. We never got out on the water that day…Bummer! I was fishing with two guys on a new lake in late July and we were scouting out some water to hit hard after lunch. We went into this bar on the lake for a burger and then planned to fish the spots we knew would hold some good Muskies. Well, 3 hours later, they decided it was time to go fishing. Well, as you can imagine, the rest of the day was not really fishing, just cruising through the water with about 20 minutes of actually having baits in the water…Bummer!
When you don't have your own boat and are at the mercy of your partner to fish and fish hard, your trip can end with bad feelings. Friendships can be at stake and/or tournaments can be lost and worst of all your personal safety can be in jeopardy. I have lost a great fishing partner due to drinking. He turned me on to my first 20 pounder. I thought he was my mentor. Alcohol took its toll on our friendship and our fishing. There is a time and a place for everything. When you only have a few weeks a year to pursue your passion, you want to make the best of it. Please don't ruin it for the people who really care about you. Think about the big picture! If you like to party, that's ok. Be responsible and think of your friends. They chose you as a fishing buddy for a reason. You both share the passion to fish for Muskies. Some of the discussions that occur in a boat during a day of Muskie fishing are priceless. You know what I mean. You have been there. Don't jeopardize that camaraderie. It's a bond that could last a lifetime.
By Craig Sandell © 2016 All through what seemed like the never ending grip of winter, Muskie anglers have been aching for the sound of open water lapping the shorelines of their favorite Musky lake. During the off-season, hooks have been sharpened, lures have been repaired, tackle boxes have been reorganized and reels have been cleaned and tuned to pristine excellence…All this in preparation for that special moment when Muskie and angler meet. Spring is a very interesting time of the season. As the water temperature creeps slowly from the 40’s toward the mid 50 degree spawning temperature, Muskie begin to shake off their winter trance as they look for a little "love" and a good meal. Muskie anglers wait patiently for the opening of the season and when it finally happens, they are quick to join the hunt. On this early spring morning in June, I too took to the water to dip a line and put a little slime in the boat. This time of year, the water temperature in the morning is usually warmer than the air giving rise to varying degrees of mist. I slipped away from the dock at Indian Trail Resort just before the sun crept over the Eastern horizon and cleaned out the shoreline of the resort using only a trolling motor on very slow speed. This is a practice that is ignored by many Muskie anglers as they motor
off to their favorite Chippewa Flowage Muskie water…sometimes the fish is as close as your own "front door". The water temperature was up to a respectable 64 degrees and at that temperature every lure is a potential Muskie producer. Muskie anglers have had success with everything from plastics to surface lures. Since I was covering the shallow shoreline, I decided to use one of my toppers to emulate a small varmint patrolling the shoreline for an easy meal. I am a supporter of the concept of ‘matching the hatch’ as part of a hunt strategy and anyone who has fished in the early Spring has observed that behavior for the animals that make their living at or close to the shallows. The shallows are also the first place where emerging weeds will provide a Muskie ambush cover. As I rounded the point of the resort shoreline heading toward Bay 1, I was getting ready to pull up the trolling motor and head on down the road. I thought to myself, "Just a cast or two more to be sure that I fished the shoreline clean". As my topper hit the water, a Muskie exploded on it. In all honesty, I never had time to even set the hook. Lucky for me, the Muskie hit the lure and turned away from the boat rather than toward it…he actually set the hook on himself. This was not a big fish, but it was the first fish of the Muskie season. It hit about 15 feet from the boat and did a little dance on the water trying to dislodge the topper from its jaw. I kept the line tight and slowly coaxed the fish toward the boat to be netted. With rod in one hand and the net in the other, I
performed the "dance of the lone Muskie angler" as I prepared to lead the Muskie into the net. The fish came up alongside the boat and swaggered right into the waiting net. I was pumped…The first fish of the season and within shouting distance of the dock. Leaving the fish in the net, I cut the hooks of the topper and prepared to measure and photograph my misty morning prize. It measured in at 32 inches…not a big fish but a nice way to start the season. After a picture or two the Muskie was back in the water and on its way. I took a deep breath, rearranged the boat, pulled up the trolling motor and motored off into what remained of the morning mist to see if the day had other Muskie adventures awaiting me… Tight Lines
The Musky Fisherman’s Net Dilemma Written By: Craig Sandell With Input From Ron Heidenreich And Joel Wick © 2023 The fact is that many Musky anglers, at one time or another, fish alone. When you tie into a Musky in the mid-30s or greater while fishing alone, a cornucopia of problems that present themselves…not the least of which is landing the Musky. Netting a Musky by yourself will have you trying to get your catch under enough control to handle the rod with one hand while manipulating the net with the other. I refer to this critical procedure as “doing the Musky dance”. Once you net your Musky, the boat chaos is just beginning. The rambunctious netted Musky raises concerns of keeping the net under control while you get the tools you need to safely remove hooks from your catch. In addition, you have to deploy your bump board or other measuring device. Then there is getting your camera ready to snap a photo before you release the Musky. Ron Heidenreich And Joel Wick have come up with an innovative solution to addressing the chaos of the catch. This video link will give you an idea of how a simple addition to your boat can help to reduce the boat chaos once the Musky is in the net: https://youtu.be/F9Xp6Rc7Q7A?t=88 This addition to your boat is even more important when you are fishing alone.
Ron fishes out of a Ranger. The pictures below will show you how Ron attached the net straps after sweating the ends of the luggage straps together. The Ranger has convenient mounting areas where net straps can be easily attached. During our conversation, Ron mentioned that he would have added some additional length to the net straps, so make sure
that you have enough of a loop in the net straps to easily insert the net handle into one or both of the net straps. With our conversation in mind, I set out to add net straps to my Tuffy. I first had to find Velcro straps. I was able to find some adjustable Velcro straps at the ACE Hardware store. The mounting holes were a bit too large, but the addition of washers that would accommodate the 1½ inch mounting screws solved the problem. You will have to drill a starting hole to accept the mounting hardware before you attach the Velcro strap. You should leave some room, so the straps are free to swivel, as shown below.
Once you have installed the net straps, they should look something like the above picture. Once the straps are installed, you will need to check that the net strap can easily fit onto the net handle. NOTE: The Velcro strap can be adjusted to secure the net.
The picture above shows the net handle secured to the Velcro strap with the net bag resting on the gunnel of the boat. The net can be adjusted by sliding the net handle back to keep the Musky from jumping out of the net. This is an easy way to keep the net secure, so your hands are free to get landing tools and get the bump board or other measuring device ready to measure your Musky as well as a camera to take a photo. My sincere thanks to Ron and Joel for sharing this innovative approach to making landing and releasing a Musky catch a bit easier. Tight Lines!
Musky Widow's Lament By T. Gayle © 2012 I am a "Musky Widow." Oh, my husband is alive and well, but just before and during Musky season, he "isn’t all there." He is concentrating on getting his equipment ready, on finding out when the ice went out, how the weeds are growing, and he actually goes to the gym to work on building his back and shoulder muscles so he can cast better. I, on the other hand, think Musky fishing is simply boring. I am inept with a casting rod, a magnet for biting bugs, uninterested in discussions about "drop-offs," and water temperature. Although I tried Musky fishing, we decided that our marriage would be better served if my husband went fishing and I didn’t. This suits both of us. I am a mildly interested bystander—with the emphasis on bystander. Musky fishing is his obsession, but it definitely isn’t mine. I have known several people who have what can only be termed an obsession. We used to have a neighbor who was determined that his lawn would rival any golf course green. A dandelion was a call to battle. He spent more time and money on seed, fertilizer and shaving almost each blade than any professional gardener would. His wife and I agreed that this was simply his way of having fun, so we adopted the call, "If it makes him happy…" Lately, however, I have been hearing about an apparently heated argument between two groups: one group thinks there is something less than "kosher" about current musky world records and another group is defending these records. I grew up around
men and boys who could argue forever over who was the best baseball player of all times, who really deserved to be in the Hall of Fame and who could be counted on as a relief pitcher in a really tight game. The difference is that, these men seemed to take a real delight just in the discussion. No one became angry because someone else held a different opinion. They already knew what the other guy would say and would provoke an argument just for the sake of argument. It made them happy…. The current argument about the world record musky doesn’t seem to be that kind of argument. There seems to be real anger and even personal rancor involved. I think it’s time for a reality check. Musky fishing is considered sport fishing. A sport is supposed to be some activity that you do for enjoyment. Yes, I realize that professional ball players make millions of dollars to "play" a sport—but at that point is it really a "sport," or is it a business? Do you fish because you enjoy the sport or do you fish because you truly expect to catch a world record? If you fish for enjoyment, you believe that just being on the water makes the day a good day—catching a legal fish just makes the day better. There is no way we can accurately rewind time. History is just that—a story. History can also be interpreted in various ways depending on the point of view of those who are interpreting. A case in point is our own Revolutionary War. The American Colonists considered George Washington a hero. England considered him a traitor. It all depends on which side of the story you are standing when it is written down. Did Louie Spray catch the world record musky? From the available evidence, it appears that he did. No one has been able to find actual evidence that he didn’t. Any disagreement with the proffered evidence is based on interpretation.
Did Cal Johnson catch a world record musky? Again, from the available evidence, it appears that he did. If he didn’t, there should be some credible evidence of that fact—not just someone’s interpretation. From my admittedly "lay person" point of view, who cares? If my husband catches a fish larger than the monster on our wall, I will be excited for him because he will be thrilled. He will be excited because he caught one bigger than his biggest catch so far. To him, musky fishing is a sport. It gives him enjoyment. It makes him happy…. I feel sorry for those who use time and energy to "prove" or "disprove" something that makes no difference to 99.999% of the world. Why is this such a big issue? Will it change the way people fish for musky? Will it improve the equipment that they buy? Will it improve the way lakes are managed? Will it make them happy? Men like to think that they are superior to women because they don’t gossip. They discuss serious issues. To my female ears, this resembles the sound of women gossiping about other women over incredibly petty issues. I’m tempted to call this a "cat fight." Of course, I am just a non-fishing woman. I could be wrong—but I don’t think I am.
Bucktails...For Some A Primary Lure Craig Sandell © 2020 Many Muskie fishermen and women who are just beginning to experience the thrill of Muskie angling often wonder what they need in their tackle box in the way of lures, tools and other accessories. It is sure easy to be overwhelmed by the hype associated with Muskie fishing. You should have a very focused selection of bucktails. Many prefer a bucktail with two treble hooks. Colors are a matter of choice, however, solid black with a green blade, solid black with an orange blade, red/white with a red/white blade and perch with a copper blade are good choices. When selecting a bucktail, you should also bear in mind what kind of fishing tactics you are going to use. A bucktail with very little weight will not cast very far, however, if you are going to bulge the bucktail over a submerged weed bed you don't want the bucktail to ride low nor do you necessarily want a long cast. If your plan is to fish the weed edge of a 8 to 12 foot drop off, then you will be looking for a bucktail that has moderate weight. This will allow for a long cast and deeper running during the retrieve. The other consideration is for fishing deep water, 15 to 20 feet, adjacent to a weed bar or stump shelf. Obviously, you are going to want to use a bucktail with good weight. You may even want to cast and let the bucktail drop in free fall for 5 to 10 seconds before starting a slow to moderate retrieve.
How Much Does A Good Bucktail Cost? I'm not sure that there is a good answer to that question. I have had good success with bucktails in the $5 to $8 dollar range. I also have bucktails in my tackle box that carry a $10 to $15 dollar price tag and do not have the action or look in the water that makes me confident enough to use it consistently. The best advice I can give you is the advice I give myself. Buy a bucktail with strategy and tactics in mind. Talk to other Muskie anglers and see what types of bucktails they have used to actually catch Muskie. Don't pay more than $15.00 for a bucktail and never buy a bucktail just because some "famous" Muskie personage caught a 30 or 40 pound fish using a bucktail "just like it". Spinner Baits...Variation on a Theme Spinner baits are close cousins to the in-line bucktail. The seven inch spinner bucktails shown here provide a nice overview of the variations in color and blade configuration. Spinners will come in many different sizes with single hook and double hook arrangements. They will also come in tandem blade arrangements (shown here) as well as single blade arrangements in a wide selection of colors and blade types.
Musky Bucktail Colors To Consider By Craig Sandell © 2012 Over the years, I have kept track of Musky that I have caught on different bucktail color combinations. I want to stress that these color combinations are NOT cast in stone but are, rather, guidelines for you to consider when you are on the water trying to decide what color lure to cast. You will note that I have not included blade colors. The reason for this is related to the emergence of double-bladed lures with blade sizes from 9 to 13. If you are accomplished at re-shafting your bucktails, you can mix blade colors to give you a color combination in which you feel confident. The body color chart below can also be used to make blade color selection. DO NOT forget that that brass and silver-colored blades are typically used in stained and clear water respectively.
Lure Body Color Guidelines Time Of Day Clear Water Stained Water Muddy Water Early (5:30am) Purple, Blue, Yellow Orange, Yellow, Red/White, Black/Orange White, Yellow, Red/White, Orange, Brown/Yellow MidMorning (10:00am) Blue/Yel/Chart, Chart/Blue * Blue, Red/White, Orange Blue/Yel/Chart, Red/White, Chart/Blue, White Noon (12:00pm) Black/Orange, Red/White Blue/Yel/Chart, Chart/Blue Black/Chart, Purple, Blue/Yel/Chart, Blue MidAfternoon 4:00pm Orange, Black/Orange, Chart/Blue, Black/Chart Blue/Yel/Chart, Purple, Red/White, Orange Red/White, Blue/Yel/Chart, Chart/Blue Evening (8:00pm) Brown/Yellow, Blue/Yel/Chart, Blue Black/White, Yellow, Black/Orange, White Orange, Black/Orange, Yellow, Brown/Yellow After Dark Black/White, Black/Chart, Black/Orange Black/White, Black/Chart, Black/Orange Black/White, Black/Chart, Black/Orange *Chart is an abbreviation for Chartreuse
Hopefully, you will find these guidelines helpful as you hunt for our Musky friend this season. Good Fishing
Early Season Musky Approaches By: John Myhre © 2020 As my fishing partner eased the big fish back into the water I almost couldn't believe the incredible Musky action we had just experienced. In less than an hour we had boated three Muskies between 45 and 49 inches. The thick green cabbage weeds seemed to be holding an incredible number of big Musky. With the water temperature hovering just over the 60 degree mark, the fish seemed quite lethargic and were really holding tight, right in the thickest weeds. Faster moving lures like bucktails or topwater lures just didn't get their attention. Yet, if you slowly twitched a minnow type bait through the pockets or holes in the thick weed cover, you had better have a good grip on your rod! When these fish come up out of the weeds they really meant business. This pattern continued to produce action for us from several Muskies including a 50 inch plus fish that threw the lure out just as quickly as she took it. Some of you are probably thinking that this sounds like the preturnover period when shallow green weeds tend to concentrate big fish in shallow water. Well it could well have been, but this was late spring. Not exactly the time of the year when most of us expect action from that many 25 to 30 pound Muskies. After all, it is common knowledge that the fall months are the best time of the year to go after big trophy size Muskies, right?
Actually though, there is a period in the late spring when the big female Muskies are just as vulnerable. The only difference is fall fish typically weigh more thus adding to the reputation of the fall producing the year's biggest Muskies. However, with faster warming water of spring this window of big fish opportunity is often quite narrow as compared to fall months. Closely watching water temperatures on different lakes can extend this period of activity for you. Last season this pattern produced big fish for me in northern Wisconsin during the beginning of June, also as late as mid-July in Canada. Water temperature is your key to big fish movements in the spring. Right after Musky spawn, they usually stay around in the shallows to recover from the ordeals of spawning. However, as the water temperatures get around the 60 degree mark or slightly over, they may start to move a little deeper. Usually, the first available good green weed edge along a break line either in or just outside the spawning area will be their next stop. Although they still may not be really active, they are usually catchable by using slower presentations that present them with the illusion of an easy meal. Big fish may hold in an area like this for an extended time, but usually as the water warms to around 65 degrees and above they will move out into the main lake, setting up their summer home ranges and patterns. Concentrating on these weed areas during this narrow water temperature range has helped me to score on several big Muskies over the years.
SLOW, ERRATIC - BIG BAITS With the lower water temperatures at this time of year the general rule of thumb has always been to use smaller baits and a slower retrieve. I definitely agree that these big post spawn Muskies generally won't get excited over faster moving lures. However, when it comes to size, just what is small to a 50 incher? Although a big fish may strike a smaller size lure, I don't feel that they will often move very far to get it. On the other hand, I have seen big fish move considerable distances to strike a twitched 8 to 10 inch minnow bait. Big Muskies can be really opportunistic when it comes to what they eat sometimes. What I mean by this is often the biggest meal that is the easiest to catch is exactly what they want. Here a bigger lure worked slowly and erratic may represent an opportunity that is just too good to pass up. For this spring pattern there is no question when it comes to which type of lures produce the best. While there are times when both bucktails and top water lures are very effective, usually twitching crankbaits, minnow type lures, or jerkbaits are my number one choice. The two things that I most often use to decide which type of lure to use are water depth and weed thickness. When the Muskies are holding in really thick stuff jerkbaits can be twitched through the pockets and holes in the weed tops. If I am fishing over deeper weeds or weed edges, big lipped deep runners that are either jointed or straight would be my choice. When it comes to color selection, you should try to pick lures with bright colored sides and bellies. Usually these tend to produce more flash when the bait is twitched, and baits that have lots of flash tend to trigger more strikes.
This season if you would like to get the jump on some big fish early, give this pattern a try. If you hit it right, you could be in for some terrific big Musky action. Just remember though, get a good hold on your rod. When you do get a big fish to come out of the weeds after a lure, they really mean business and the strikes can be vicious.
Are All Bucktails Created Equal? By: John Myhre © 2011 There have been many times when I have heard anglers say, "Bucktails are all the same. When they're after spinners any bucktail will produce as well as another." While it is true that there are times when muskies are so active they'll hit almost anything, these occasions are actually few and far between. The rest of the time little differences in a bucktail's components, make a big difference in how many muskies you interest in them! Blade type and color are often the basis for selecting which bucktail to use. However, several other things should influence your choice, as well. Bucktail style, size, weight, amount of hair, and hook placement should also be considered. Any one of these seemingly insignificant details can sometimes make all the difference in how many muskies you boat. Here is a little story about how I came to learn the importance of one item, hook placement, when fishing shallow weed cover. Shortly after opening day a few years back, I was fishing just outside a major spawning area on one of my favorite early season lakes. The new weed growth on this spot was well developed already with some clumps being surprisingly thick. This prompted me to choose a light weight bucktail with a large colorado blade. This combination works exceptionally well over shallow weed tops. The light weight along with the extra lift created by the big blade make it run high. My second cast to the
edge of a thick weed patch drew a good solid strike. I immediately set the hooks hard only to have the Musky react by violently thrashing its head from side to side above the water. It took the Musky less than a second to free itself by throwing the hooks. Quickly my partner switched to the same style of bucktail and we continued fishing the same weed bed. Just a few casts later a good size Musky struck his bucktail from the side. Instantly he set the hooks only to have the Musky do the same thing my fish had done only minutes earlier. We missed two more fish later that same morning. Admittedly, we were both getting pretty disgusted with the situation. Determined to figure out why we were missing all these fish, I began to analyze and experiment. The muskies did not seem to be chasing the lures, but instead they appeared to be striking from fixed ambush points as the bucktail went past them. I reasoned that because of the limited visibility in the heavy weeds these "ambush feeders" were striking at the bright colored blade, which was the most visible part of the bucktail to them. I also felt the single treble hooks on these lures were out of position for a solid hookset, and a good head shake could easily dislodge them. A quick check of my bucktail box revealed enough spare parts to add a second hook to these bucktails just behind the blade. This proved to be just the ticket. Three nice muskies all hooked solidly on that front hook. proved my point. A huge increase from zero to 100 percent success resulted. To an experienced Musky angler, a bucktail is a lot more than just a spinner. It's an exacting skill. Here are a few personal tips on some of the many variables in the art of bucktail fishing.
BUCKTAIL RUNNING DEPTH Picking the right bucktail to run at a desired depth is also a science. There can be a big difference in running depths from one style to another. Sure you can fish almost any bucktail spinner shallow or deep and anywhere in between, but there are differences that allow one to perform better in a particular situation. Some of the main factors governing running depth are blade style, blade size, weight and balance, and your retrieve speed. The amount of drag and lift that a blade creates has a big effect on the running depth of a bucktail. Round wide blades like the "Colorado", or traditional "fluted" create the most lift hence, are better adapted to shallow situations. Long narrow blades like a "Willow" are better suited to running deeper. They create far less drag and lift. The "Indiana" and ever popular French blade falls in about the middle making it a good choice for mid depth presentations. Also remember that blade style and thickness determine the sound a bucktail makes as well. Round wide blades tend to produce more noise as do thicker blades.