Early Season Outlook for Northwoods Muskies
A cool down at the early part of this week here in the Northwoods may slow fish activity down a bit. However, in a Spring that has been in overdrive with early summer like temps and abundant sunshine up until recently, it will only be a bump in the road long term. Actively spawning Muskies have been very visible for as long as two weeks or more in some systems and incidental catch rates have been high this past week on offerings intended for walleyes and bass. While some of the larger lakes will likely still have some spawning activity during the opener this upcoming weekend, plenty of hungry fish should be available. This is especially true in systems where fish concluded spawning well before the Opener.
If you are fortunate enough to have spent some time on the water up here this season, take note of the lakes you visited where you observed bass and crappies actively bedding. These lakes are prime candidates for the timing aspect of the major key to success this weekend; lake choice. Additional factors to examine are weed growth and water temperature. The optimal lake/flowage/river choice for early season should be as far away from the spawn as possible, have advanced weed growth (cabbage in particular) and have some of the highest sustained water temperatures in the area.
This loosely translates to shallow lakes(max depth of less than 25-30 feet), large systems with large expanses of shallow weed beds or attached lakes, stained or semi stained water, flowages, and rivers.
Optimal choices for lure selections will be downsized in most cases. If the weather greatly improves and water temperatures make it to the low 60 degree range, large and magnum offerings can be very effective early on. Based on the current forecast, it looks like the time to up size will come in the middle of next week. Small spinners like Rizzo whizs and Mepps are a classic choice for opener. Single bladed 700 and 500 series Bucktail and blades up to double 8s are a great choice also. Chatterbaits intended for bass are always musky magnets before the season opens. Baits like the Angry Dragon can produce tremendous results the first few weeks of the season. Small jerk baits in the 5-"7" size like Big Game jerkbaits, shallow raiders, custom X and Grandma's will produce strikes from less aggressive fish. 9" and 10" Suicks are on of my favorite "large baits" in an early season scenario. Small rubber like mini and mid Medusas, Kermits and regular bull dawg should always be kept handy for both tight to cover and open water applications. Glide baits like Phantoms and hellhounds in the 4"-6" size will likely be a hot producer, especially if water temps remain in the low to mid 50 degree range. Last but not least, the topwater bite is often overlooked and a good option to explore, especially in lakes that have areas of very advanced weed growth. In those systems, fish will hold in very dense weeds in only 2-3 feet of water and a slow moving top water can be the best weapon to dig them out. On the second day of the season last year we had a phenomenal topwater pattern going. Lake X Dr. Evil, Creepers, and scaled-down wobblers are all excellent choices.
The conditions this season should be similar to last year's opener in many respects, so revisiting areas that yielded success last year on opener is an excellent strategy. Best of luck this opening weekend! Looking forward to another great season of musky fishing here in the Northwoods!
Capt Jeff Van Remortel
WDH Guide Service, LLC
The musky season started with a bang in Northern Wisconsin for musky guide Steve Genson of Fish Hunts guide service. Several muskies up to 48" were caught in super shallow water. As with every musky season nothing stays the same and last weeks pattern will be no different with the quickly rising water temps that have moved from mid 60's to low 70's within a few days. This upcoming weekend expect the post spawn muskies to be a little lethargic. The bite in recent days has shifted from small glide baits (4" and 6" Phantom) and small twitch baits (5" Custom X mini) to Small spinner baits like the Rabid Squirrel and Baby Girl and some limited top water action. Don't be afraid to speed those little bucktails up to get the reaction strike that might save the day. Weed growth is still slow to develop with the late spring so flats and break lines are still holding fish. Make sure to cover water and keep moving along if you haven't contacted fish as the post spawn fish still haven't established their summer patterns. Hopefully a few of these tips will help you this weekend on the water. Steve still has a few openings for June so if your looking to book a trip in the Hayward WI area or MN please check out www.fishhunts.com for more information. (click either picture for a link to that page). Book mark this blog and check back often for more reports on what's happening on the water. Best of Luck this weekend.