Ontario Muskie (Musky) FishingMuskellunge Fishing Tips and Lodges
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.
Lures and Rods
There are a ton of musky lures on the market today, however, fall fishing will simplify the selection and take the guesswork out of what to bring. My arsenal consists of three types of lures – jerkbaits, trolling cranks and spinnerbaits.
Jerkbaits are my “go to” lure in the fall and their action and style are just what the musky doctor ordered. Choose a jerk between 8 and twelve inches and get ready for some excitement. A few baits to keep on board are the Suick, the Jake and the Bobbie Bait.
Trolling cranks deserve a place in all fall tackle boxes as they are a dynamite search lure and have the reputation of catching HUGE fish. The way to go is BIG in order to whet the appetite of these eating machines. Choose a few lures that will cover different depths for the water you troll. Lures such as Believers, Swim Whiz’s and jumbo Rapalas or Bagleys have worked well for me in the past. Try different colour combinations to see which one is triggering a strike in this “sometimes picky” fish.
Spinnerbaits work great in the summer months for musky and also produce results well into the fall. Bass-sized baits should be overlooked, as jumbo spinnerbaits are the best to choose. White-skirted versions with oversized willow leaf blades have been the “lure de jour” for many of the muskies I have encountered during the chilly months.
If there is one thing I can suggest to those anglers wishing to pursue the mighty musky it is to invest in a good quality rod that is specifically designed for this type of fish. My recommendation is a rod in the 6-foot to 6-and-a-half foot length with a heavy action. This will enable you to cast and troll easily, and land fish that would undoubtedly play havoc on gear that is any lighter.
Gear and Gadgets
There are certain items that must be in my boat each musky outing to ensure a safe and productive day. Having a good set of pliers will make hook removal a snap, as long as they are of a sufficient length (so you don’t have to venture too close to that ferocious mouth) and can attain a reasonable torque. A heavy-duty pair of bolt cutters is also needed so that any hook that is irremovable can be quickly and effortlessly cut off. No hook is worth the price of a musky, so when in doubt, your best option is to cut her free.
Nets, gaffs and cradles are all examples of landing tools that ensure the safe handling and releasing of fish. They all serve a slightly different purpose but their number one trait is that they lessen the chance of harm being done to a musky. Pick up one of these aids and ensure the safe release of this majestic beast.
A measuring tape is a handy little tool that deserves a place in all musky anglers boxes. Taking a quick length and girth measurement can give you vital information on the fish you just landed, as well as providing the numbers to do a quick “weight-conversion.” I keep a log book on board to record each of my fish’s statistics for future reference and comparison.
Cameras are a way to record your catch for future prosperity, and can be used for braggin’ rights with friends and co-workers. Handling a fish as little as necessary is the best option, while also supporting its body at all times. If you can take a picture while leaving the fish in the water you will do the least amount of damage to the fish. If you must take it out of the water, do so quickly so as to put as little stress as possible on the fish.
A Word on Weather
Weather conditions during the fall can be unpredictable. You may one day be fishing in sunny, warm weather or the next be battling frigid temperatures and snow. Toques, gloves and warm clothing go without saying, as well as a warm, comfortable pair of winter boots. The smartest purchase I ever made was to buy a pair of floater pants for fall fishing. These keep me warm all day long and provide the safety factor should I fall overboard. Pair this up with a floater jacket and you have a combination that won’t let you down. A floater suit is another option that provides added warmth and safety in a one-piece package.
Keep a spare change of clothes in a waterproof bag in case your original clothing gets damp from the elements. I personally keep an extra pair of gloves and socks in this bag just to be on the safe side, and for insurance should I run into trouble while out on the water.
Take the time this fall to reap the rewards of this prime musky period. Size and numbers of fish will be at your disposal during these months, and connecting with a prime specimen will make you forget that winter is just around the corner.
By Justin Hoffman