Musky On The Spot
By Craig Sandell © 2014

When the water temperature falls to the low 60’s during the fall, pre-turnover tactics come into play. For the fish, there is no advantage to being suspended in deep water or up on the bars or on sprawling food shelves. The surface water temperature is pretty homogeneous and conditions tend to spread the fish out.

After some high temperatures in the first week of September 2007, the climate took a nose dive. The water temperature dropped from the mid-70’s to the low 60’s in less than a week and the fishing became very difficult.

The beauty of regularly fishing the same body of water is that, over time, you get the opportunity to catch fish in many different weather conditions. If you are diligent and keep a good diary of these catches, you can use that diary to provide a “clue” as to where to fish when weather conditions change drastically.

So, when my fishing partner, Rob Meusec, suggested that we fish an evening location that he and I had never fished, I checked my diary for some insight and the Flowage map that I have been marking up since 1989. I came up with a sub-surface rock hump that topped out at 2.5 feet from a depth of 24 feet. Even though I told Rob where we were going to fish, when we actually got to the spot, Rob said: “Where the heck are we.” His confusion was amplified as he saw me throw a single marker off the back of the boat.

Note: I am a real advocate of open water single marker fishing. That is to say that when you are fishing a piece of sub-surface structure that is 500 yards from any shoreline structure, you need a reference point.

I told Rob that at the marker there was 2.5 feet of water. Rob was fishing from the front of the boat and was amazed that no more that 20 feet from the marker in one direction, we were in 24 feet of water. Rob and I began to make concentric circles around the marker and were fishing a weedless rock pile with varying depths from super shallow to very deep.

For this type of spot, all lures are in play. Rob put a glide bait on his rod and I elected to try a black and white Best American Topper. As we fished our circular pattern, we were covering every type of depth.

After about 45 minutes of fishing this spot the sun was beginning to tickle the tree tops. I was getting ready to change lures when I felt a tug on my line. I pulled back on the rod and announced to Rob that I had a fish on. The Musky hit about 5 feet from the boat and immediately made a bee line for deeper water. I hit the thumb bar on my reel and thumbed out line so as to keep the fish in play with firm pressure while not “horsing” the fish to the boat.

After about 5 minutes, the fish was under control and ready for the net. I led him to the net that Rob had at the ready and with a single scoop, the battle was over.

I cut the tips from the Owner 3/0 Stinger treble hooks and got prepared to pull the fish from the net of a measurement and a quick couple of photos. Rob was ready with the camera and had already placed the ruler in a convenient location for a quick measurement of the fish.

This beefy guy measured in at 38.5 inches…A respectable fish in anyone’s book. A couple of photos later, I had the fish back in the water waiting for him to regain his senses and move off on his own…The cooler water helped to facilitate a quick recovery and with a wag of his tail he was off to Muskyland.

Lessons Learned:

  • When the weather changes, tactics must change.

  • Your fishing partner’s perspective is important.

  • A fishing diary can be a valuable tool.

  • Single marker fishing in open water is productive.

Tight lines