How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Surface Muskies

The surface lunge
By Burt Myers

If you're only interested in the trophy of a lifetime, or in quantity, stop here. But if you're willing to pass up glory and numbers for what might well be the most spellbinding fishing experience in Ontario, read on.

Begin by keying in on the twilight zones of morning and evening and about an hour after dark to two or three in the morning. The absence of wind is a definite asset.

Good locations are almost always adjacent to deep water. In most oligotrophic lakes, the kind that hold lake trout as well, that's 40 feet (12 m). I peg it at 30 feet (9 m) in mesotrophic lakes, such as Stony in the Kawarthas; and as little as 12 feet (3.6 m) in eutrophic lakes, such as Scugog.

A rock pile or ledge near deep water and weed cover on a small mud-flat leading from shore is always worth serious attention. Points and pockets on weedbeds adjacent to deep water are other good locations, particularly if they border transition zones from one bottom type to another. Most good surface lures fall into one of two categories: chuggers such as the muskie-sized Jitterbug; or swishers, such as the 5-inch Cisco Kid Topper. Oversized buzzbaits, similar to smaller versions used by bass anglers, also work well.

Forget stop-and-go bass retrieves. Work surface baits for muskie in one continuous retrieve, even if a fish strikes just short. Muskie trailing a lure often turn away from it if it stops.

On every third or fourth cast put the lure through a figure-eight pattern a rod's length from the boat. Do two complete figure-eights non-stop. Muskie often follow a lure almost to the boat, lurking unseen just feet away. The figure-eight will often unleash a furious boat-side attack. A sticky drag under these conditions will almost certainly result in a lost lure, since the line is too short to absorb much shock. Colour selection is easy. For night fishing pick black; for morning and evening pick solid finishes, including fluorescent red or orange, yellow, or white.

Home-made leaders without a lot of unnecessary hardware are recommended, as is a strong heart. When up to 30 pounds (14 kg) of fury erupts from a lake (once one actually landed in my boat on a pitch-black night), you'll know the true meaning of heart-stopping action. It's on the surface.


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