Musky season is in full swing and hopefully you’ve been having a successful year. When we put out a newsletter we try to give you something to help you become a better musky angler. In this issue we asked six musky guides 2 questions.
- What is something you do off the water to have success on the water?
- If your not contacting fish what is one adjustment you make?
With six guides you can bet we got a few different answers. If you visit the blog section of our website we will put the whole response from some of the guides we talked with. The six guides were Steve Genson with Genson’s Fish Hunts, Phil Schweik with Hooksetters Guide Service, Kevin Pischke with Lay in a Line Service, Gregg Thomas with Battle The Beast Guide Service, Jeff Van Remortel with WDH Guide Service, and Pete Rich with Pete Rich Guide Service.
When asked “What is something you do off the water to have success on the water” many of them agreed that making sure your tackle is organized, including keeping hooks sharp was a top priority. Gregg Thomas said that he spends lots of time playing with weighting of baits when he’s not in the boat. Adding weight to crankbaits and jerkbaits can help get baits deeper to fish that haven’t seen them before. Captain Kevin Pischke likes to keep detailed catch logs and use them to help develop patterns over the course of the season. Kevin said if you keep good records you can go one step further and compare fish location based on seasons where you’ve seen similar weather develop. Phil Schweik spends a good amount of time reading in addition to talking with a network of guys about water temperature, current flow, and water level so when he hits the water he has a well thought out plan. Based on the information we gathered from these guys they all made it seem that time spent preparing for a musky hunt off the water can definitely influence their success.
So now the question that most people want to know, “When your not contacting fish what is one adjustment you make”? Pete Rich said that if he’s on a good bite that suddenly isn’t producing he will make a move in if he had been fishing open water and will make some trolling passes closer to open water if he’d been casting shoreline structure. His thought is that the muskies won’t abandon the area they’ve been in overnight. Those fish will just slide in or out based on conditions. Steve Genson will take a 2-fold approach. His first change is lure style. If he’s been throwing blades and not seeing fish, he would then make a change to a top water bait or glide bait. Once he contacts a fish it’s now a matter of what TRO custom color will trigger those fish. Gregg Thomas has a similar approach to Pete when working a “Good Area”. Making a depth change is his first move. If Gregg runs into a heat wave or prolonged periods of high pressure he will move a cast length off structure. If a cold front blows in or shade is created by the sun, Gregg will move shallower to take advantage of the drop in water temperature. Guide Jeff Van Remortel will take change to a whole new level. Jeff runs his guide business in Northern WI and moving to different water or lake type that might be “on” is well within reason. When Phil Schweik is on the water he knows the fish are biting somewhere, so his first move is to change locations and “run and gun” until he finds active fish. His second move is to change up presentation type and either slow down or speed up depending on what he had been previously doing. Kevin Pischke makes a similar change to Gregg and Pete and usually analyzes boat position. If he’s working a spot he knows has produced he will slide in or out first. Sometimes he will also flip and throw shallow to deep to retrieve baits in a manner they haven’t seen recently.
Clearly we’ve seen some similarities and differences among the 6 guides. Hopefully you’ve read something you can do when you’re on and off the water to help put more muskies in the net this late summer/fall period. Good Luck with the chase.
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Stick to your Guns:
Musky fishing has been for the most part turned into a strafing run. A carpet Bombing. Precision and meticulousness has fallen to the wayside through a motif of burning...and all too often crashing because of it. "Covering water" doesn't necessarily mean covering a two dimensional expanse of water. 90 percent of the fish, as they say, are in 10 percent of the water. So, that being said, once you isolate the ten percent, why waste time performing the same routine over the same layer of water?
The real art of musky fishing comes in knowing the nature of the animal, what it utilizes as habitat and how it moved about its board, and carefully dissecting this ecosystem with different variations of depth, speed, size, action, and color. No matter where you fish, the Muskies are always either shallow, deep, or somewhere in between, and in accordance to that, either active, neutral, or inactive. These levels change periodically and almost constantly in an increase and decrease of "frequency" daily, and to be successful, you must synchronize with this aspect of nature imposed upon this particular animal, the muskellunge. No structure situation I've ever personally encountered can be covered in under an hour to any comprehensive degree. Take your time. Most musky anglers I fish with both fish an area far too quickly, and their presentations themselves usually lean far too heavily on the rapid side of the spectrum. Hastiness will not only leave your coverage sloppy, but cost you some of the greatest fish of your life, and lead to misnomers of information to use in the future. This is the single most evident reason why anglers have a tendency to get pigeon-holed into a handful of tactics on given bodies of water. Don't fear to cycle through drastic variations of depth speed and size control on the same structure situation. The evidence of being almost tedious in covering a structure was most evident when two clients of mine landed a 52"x25" musky on Melton Hill reservoir after we had staked out an area I know to be an almost year round musky habitat and covered it for at least 60 minutes over a 60 yard stretch with everything from a 12" crank to a 3" bass jig. Richard and Travis Storch were rewarded in entertaining my adamancy on our last pass with the fish of many people's lifetimes on a TRO Ice Cold Perch Shallow Invader retrieved moderately slowly over a channel break. If we had played hop scotch from spot to spot on a "milk run", we might have been on plane when this fish or another of equal size became just active enough to move up to the break and trigger. Have faith in your arsenal of knowledge and your ability to implement the right tool at the right time.
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