Trophy Muskies (Little Things Count)


Ever heard the expression “It’s the little things that count?”

Because Muskies are at the very top of the fresh water predator-prey chain, there are fewer of them than there are of other species of fish, and fewer still of the the really big “wall hangers.” Many times, the difference between landing a trophy musky, and a small illegal one are the little things. In some of my other articles I write that to catch a trophy musky is more a matter of luck and being at the right place at the right time then anything else.

Most Musky Hunters think that the right place (location) is a big thing! Indeed, I agree…..However, there are many “little things” regarding location to look for on any given body of water at any given time. To begin, getting a good structure map and using your electronics to find the high percentage spots, then concentrating your efforts on those areas. Not unlike people, key needs for muskies are the availability of food and comfort. The areas that provide these basic needs are more likely to hold fish, keeping in mind that the larger a musky gets, the more it wants to relate to the deepest areas of the lake or flowage. In natural lakes, structure nearest the deep main lake basin tends to hold most of the big fish. In a man-made lake or flowage, structure that is closest to the original lake basin or river channel tends to draw the most trophy-size muskies. Another “little thing” regarding flowage muskies: they tend to be migratory, moving up and down the flowage by way of the original river channel. When they stop to rest and/or feed it is most often on the same near-channel structure, so concentrating on these higher percentage areas increases the chances for a fish of memorable size!

In another article we learn that muskies can indeed see colors, and it is also something that we should be aware of. Just to remind you that dark waters predicate dark colored lures, i.e. brown, gold copper and certainly black. Lighter colors like silver, white, yellow and gray tend to more closely match the forage base in clear water. Bright, flashy fluorescent colors like chartreuse and orange are often more effective on overcast days and low light conditions.

Water temperature and depth are sometimes overlooked and can dictate what presentations are best. In early spring and late fall, slower is normally better. With retrieves in a slower manor, often the lure can represent an easy meal that does not require a lot of energy for the musky to catch. As the water warms, faster presentations work well but be wary of a too-fast retrieve when hunting for a really big fish! (arn’t we all?) Remembering that the bigger sows are looking for easy dinners and don’t feed nearly as often as the their smaller sons and daughters. Deeper running lures work well at many times of the year, but late fall is when they really shine. In real cold water a big musky will not chase a lure at  all! It must be put right in front of them to even have a chance of a hookup!

I think most Musky Hunters know that things that can make a big difference are sharp hooks, worn line, knots and terminal tackle….. I once lost a trophy sized tiger musky at the side of my boat when my snap swivel opened up.

A another thing that could make a big difference is noise! Some say it does not matter, but I have seen big muskies swim away when spooked. Contrary to the belief that big muskies fear nothing, they’re surely spooked quite easily and noise will definitely deter them from following a lure in. (although you can’t hang a follow above your fireplace) It is especially true when fishing in shallow water and after dark.  Why take the risk anyway? At any rate, try to keep the noise down when approaching an area that you intend to fish. Cut your engine a good distance upwind from the area you want to fish, and drift into it. Many times big muskies will hold quite a distance off the structure. Motoring into the area would bypass these fish and will stop you from getting a good shot at them.

Certainly, I have just scratched the surface, but these”Little Things” usually add up to one “Big Thing!” Choosing the right location, the right lure, and presentation will add up to an increase in both the size and number of muskies raised, and also the enjoyment of the time spent on the water. For most Musky Hunters “That’s the big thing!”

Thanks for looking…..Good Luck!

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