Early season muskies can be a challenge, but can still produce some of the best fishing of the year. Here are a couple tips to get you started chasing some early season esox. Choose your water wisely. Find the warm water. Think erratic.
I usually start my season on darker water and smaller lakes. These types of systems typically get fired up faster which makes them a good choice for starting your season. Darker water lakes will generally warm up faster making the muskies spawn sooner and start feeding sooner. Now this is a general rule! There are years when the clear water and larger systems can get going good by the opener. This is especially true in warmer than normal springs.
Finding the warmest water can be very important. I am always paying attention to my temp gauge this time of year. Even a couple degree difference can be significant in finding actively feeding muskies. No matter what type of system you choose to fish pay attention to finding the warmest water. Shallow bays, shallow flats, northern exposed shorelines, and anywhere streams, creeks, or rivers are entering can be slightly warmer. Spend lots of time in these areas.
In general I throw a lot of erratic lures during early season. Muskies can often be lethargic this time of year, especially following the spawn. Try to trigger reaction strikes by throwing smaller jerk baits, glide baits, and twitch baits. Some of my favorites for starting the season include Squirrelly hellhounds, Hellpuppies, 6” Phantom Softtails, and 5” Slammers. Just remember to work these baits erratically with lots of pauses. Once the water warms to the mid 60’s we start to mix in some Rabid Squirrel and Jack Rabbit spinners, TopRaiders and Fat Bastards, and bigger rubber like Magnum Bulldawgs. Good luck this season and get started early!!
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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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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.