Fishing and Tackle News

Gregg Thomas talks on and off the water tips

We asked Gregg Thomas with Battle The Beast Guide Service  (1) What is something you do off the water to help catch more fish? and (2) When your on the water and not contacting muskies what is 1 change you'll make. Below you'll the answers to these questions. 

(1) Off the water preparation can be very important.  Making lure alterations can be key to putting more fish in the boat.  Adding weight, taking weight out, reshafting spinners or even repairing broken lips all needs to completed off the water.  I mess with my baits a lot and after hours is the time for me to do that.  One thing that I do is add insert weights  to my crankbaits and jerkbaits.  By adding weights to lures it is a way to get a certain action deeper where the fish haven’t seen it before.  An example would be adding weights to twitch baits.  Normally these lures only go down 2 to 4 feet by adding weight you can get these lures to depths in areas where this type of action my not have been seen before.

(2) If I am not contacting fish there are number of things to try.  The one go to for me is changing depths. With the electrics that are available now fishing deeper and shallower water is even easier.  Depending on conditions making depth adjustments can be the key to boating more fish.  If you are experiencing a heat wave or long periods of high pressure moving the boat out and fishing a cast length off the structure may pay off.  If the area that you are fishing is a known “Good Area” and no fish are moving then moving off can be key.  If it is a strong cold front or low light situation. Going shallower can be good.  A sudden drop in water temperature either from a cold front or shade created by sun angle will trigger shallow water migrations.  Both of these migrations are something to consider when on the water.

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Jeff Van Remortel talks on and off the water tips.

We asked Northern Wisconsin Guide Jeff Van Remortel with WDH Guide Service (1) What is something you do off the water to help catch more fish? and (2) When your on the water and not contacting muskies what is 1 change you'll make. You'll answers to these questions below. 

1) With the exception of time spent with family/friends, it is rare for me to be off the water for any significant amount of time during the season. When I do find myself with an afternoon or day off the water, I may spend time on gear or boat/trailer maintaince. Keeping reels spooled and leaders and split rings fresh is something I try to as the issues arise, but from time to time, I do accumulate a "to-do" list. 

2) When I am on the water, it is rare that I do not have a good understanding of the structure I am fishing or other key pieces of structure available in the system. That is part of the home work that should be done ahead of time before attempting to catch fish. Having this information at your disposal allows for a fluid change from one type of structure to another as conditions change on the water. The hardest decisions come when you are fishing in good or above average conditions and you have confidence in you bait and spot selection but are failing to produce results. When I know I am presenting to fish and switching baits or techniques does not produce action, I will often switch lakes. A seasoned angler will have that "gut feeling" conditions are good to get bit, but in some cases those good conditions may not be good for the type of water you are on. The reason for this are numerous and there is often no one root cause. The easy solution is to cut your losses and change water/lake type before the next feeding window opens.

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6 Guides way in on 2 questions about catching muskies

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.

  1. What is something you do off the water to have success on the water?
  2. 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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Early Season Outlook for Northwoods Muskies

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


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Time to reflect.

     We'll we've made it to the end of July and hopefully you've been able to put a few muskies in the net. Along with the success there is usually some failure in musky fishing. For us in the Northern range for muskies we are close to the mid point of our season. Water temps are just about ticking that 80 degree mark which means it's time to think about putting the musky rods down for a few weeks and take stock of what lies ahead these next few months and wait for the next cold front. As the page turns to August and September there is usually a movement of muskies back up to the shallows and these fish are susceptible to a burned bucktail or topwater. Our selection of both products has never been better. A  Genson Series Showgirl or Jack Rabbit can certainly fill this niche. While a #8 Toothy Saber can also show the muskies something they don't always see. Sometimes adding a small grub tail can be enough to trigger a stubborn musky. As for topwater The Weagle from Suick Lures has certainly been overlooked because of the popularity of the tail rotating topwater. The Weagle was and is known as a big fish magnet and musky anglers will sometimes get caught up in chasing what's hot and new and forget about baits that are battle tested.

     So as we push forward to Fall and what many musky anglers dream about think about your season thus far and if it's not what you'd like it be ask yourself if you need to make a change. Maybe you've spent too much time searching shallow when the muskies have pushed out a little deeper. It's possible you've spent too much time relying on things that have worked in the past and now it's time to examine a new weed bed or find a different spot that bait fish have congregated. One thing is certain in musky fishing, nothing stays the same. Most of all Enjoy the Chase. 

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Stick to your guns by Cory Allen

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. 
-Cory Allen

To learn more about Cory Allen click HERE

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The new season begins now

Musky anglers across the midwest are starting to embrace the warm weather and many of them living in states with no closed season are starting to hit the water. Musky Show season has just come to an end and we can't thank you all enough for coming out to visit us. We truly appreciate the support. We've been working hard to get inventory updated and all new products added. Some of the new things we added just recently would be the Single 8 from Dirty Hookers Tackle, Raptor Baits 10" Rapta Boo, New Grey TRO Hoodies, 6" twitch baits from Slammer Tackle, new Triple Bladed tails from Musky Frenzy, and CPR Baitz 4025's. We hope to have some of the sought after baits we had at shows in stock soon. We are expecting new Musky Innovations Pro Dawgs any day now also. This season we want to keep you updated with our newsletter. Use this link to sign up. We plan to have a few guides chime in with some tips to help you make 2016 your best year on the water yet. Keep checking back here for updates as well. Best of luck this spring, Jeff

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March 13, 2016 0 tags (show)

Gearing up for 2016

Most of us are just about getting ready to put the boat in storage and put the tackle on the shelf until it's time to pull it out when mother nature breaks her icy spell. Well you don't have to wait 4 months to think and talk about musky fishing. We will be at the Sears Centre in Chicago for Muskie Expo Chicago January 8th through the 10th. We have a full 2 booths and we'd like to see you stop in and talk musky fishing with us. Between now and the show in January we will be giving sneak peeks at new colors that we will be adding for 2016. We truly appreciate your support this past musky season and we look forward to bigger things next year. Below is a preview of 2 of the new Bull Dawg colors we will have available for the first time at the show. I hope everyone had an amazing fishing season and to the anglers still out chasing these crazy fish we wish you the Best of Luck on the Water.

Orange Shad

Orange Shad (above)

Fire Shiner

Fire Shiner (above)

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December 01, 2015 0 tags (show)

Pre Turnover Muskies

The arrival of autumn sees with it a definite impending switch in musky location and behavior. As leaves first hint at changing color here in the Northwoods and the nights find a nip in the air, water temperatures dip below 70 degrees and the pre-turnover period begins. This time of year offers the musky angler the potential for dynamic outings as large numbers of fish frequent the shallows up until turnover, and are often feeding aggressively. Whether weeds, wood or rock, shallow cover, in as often as only a few feet of water, should garner the bulk of the esox hunter’s focus.

Pre-turnover is an excellent time for surface lures, one of my favorite and most productive offerings during early fall. Baits such as Lake X Lures Fat Bastard, Cannonball Jr., and Cannonball are sure bets and should be worked just a tad slower than during the steamy summer months. As a general rule the more surface disturbance due to wind, boat traffic, etc., the larger the lure I choose. Whereas I typically work baits relatively fast during summer, I prefer to retrieve surface lures in autumn just fast enough to get the lure to make a distinct popping sound; this of course varies from bait to bait so experimentation is key to finding the preferred speed for the muskies on a given day. In addition to Lake X Lures, I have also had excellent success on the Sennett Tackle Pacemaker and Rough Runner.

Not to be outdone by their overly buoyant counterparts, bucktails are also effective presentations during the pre-turnover period. Large double-bladed models offer not only greater lift at slower speeds, but produce a distinct big fish calling thump throughout the entire retrieve. I again experiment with size and let the fish show me what they prefer. There are many great choices on the market, with the Mepps Double Blade Musky Marabou (#7 blades), Musky Mahem Jr. Cowgirl (#8 blades), Toothy’s Tackle Tickler (#9 blades) and the Mepps H210 (#10 blades) being amongst my personal favorites. Regardless of which model I am throwing, I always incorporate the use of a plastic trailer to add additional flash and vibration thus ultimately elicit strikes from potentially non-committal ‘skies.

Although often overlooked in early fall for shallow holding fish, jerkbaits and crankbaits are also productive options. Musky Innovations Shallow Invaders and Mag Shallow Invaders will produce fish on a straight retrieve or when worked as a jerkbait as well as the Drifter Tackle Vexer, a lure specifically designed to excel as a twitchbait. A key triggering mechanism, especially with crankbaits, is to make occasional contact with whichever structural element you’re fishing.

Anyone who has been around musky fishing knows the potency of jerkbaits in autumn, and this includes the pre-turnover period. Shallow Mag and Pounder versions of the Musky Innovations Bulldawg produce giant fish each year during this window. Esox Research’s Hell Hound and Squirrely Hell Hound are glide baits that when worked in an erratic manner can produce strikes from fish that might otherwise only follow. The new Dyin’ Dawg has been a terrific producer for my boat all summer and I expect it to continue to do so this fall as well.

The pre-turnover period doesn’t last forever, so grab a few Plano boxes of the aforementioned lures and head out to your local honey hole to explore the shallow bite – there’s a great chance you’ll start your autumn off with a BIG bang! I’ll see you on the water…    Joel DeBoer - Wisconsin Angling Adventures

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Fish Hunts Guide Service - Post Spawn Musky Report

 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 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. 


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