How to Hold a Musky (and other info)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Night Fishing for Muskies

by Laura Morrison

Fishing for muskie at night is a completely different ball game. Aside from being very productive, it can also be a real heart stopper. You almost have to rethink the way you fish. Unless there is a full moon, you really can't see much. When it's very dark, I know I rely mostly on what I feel and not on what I hear. Setting the hook when you hear the splash is all too easy and you're surely going to miss the fish.

Plan your evening muskie fishing trip well in advance. Doing this will give you enough time to be totally prepared. Here are some steps that will make your night fishing trip successful.

Know the lake you're going to fish. The lake will look different at night. Know the tree lines and how to read them. Learn landmarks to follow if you do get lost. Bring a compass just in case you get turned around and lose site of what direction you need to go. If you're unsure of the lake, do not go out at night. Take the time to prefish it during the daylight hours. Learn the spots and how to get to each one without hitting any hazards.

Make sure your boat is prepared. All running lights must be in working order. Have a full tank of gas. The extra gas may be needed if you get lost on a larger lake. Fully charge your batteries. Keep a strong spotlight/flashlight on board. You'll want to have the ability to see what's around you, especially the shoreline or to let another boat know you're there. Depending on how you're positioned, it may be difficult for another boat to clearly see your running lights. Do not point a strong spotlight in the eyes of the driver of the other boat. Blinding another driver could make things ugly. Headlamps work well when you need to use both hands. Instances such as, changing lures, landing fish, or removing hooks. With any motor, you may have problems. Keep an oar on board just in case everything else fails.

Prepare yourself in advance. Foreseeing any mishaps will help you plan for anything thrown at you. The safest thing to do is to be prepared for everything. Check the weather before you go. Storms at night will not increase your catches. Tell someone which lake you will be fishing and what time you will be home. Bring a cell phone with a full battery. This will allow you to contact someone if there is a problem. You can also call home if the action is so good that you plan to stay a little later. Significant others always think the worst when you're running late from a night trip. Ease their minds by letting them know you're okay.

Double-check your arsenal. If you think your leader is due for a change, change it before you go out. A lost lure from a broken snap is more difficult to locate at night. Pick out a few lures you plan on using and sharpen the hooks. Keep spare, sharp hooks on board (out of the way) in case you have to cut the hooks after a catch. You may even want to try some of the glow in the dark stickers to apply to your lures.

Be safe when driving. Life jackets should be worn at all times, especially at night. Wear clear safety glasses while driving. Like the old saying goes, "It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye". Hitting bugs, even at 20 mph, can be very painful. This brings me to another point, SLOW DOWN after sunset.

Take extra care while in the boat. Keep the floor clear of anything not being used. Put away extra rods, lures, trash, empty beer cans (just kidding, you shouldn't drink while on the water), etc. Designate a space for your release tools and spotlight. Since I don't recommend fishing alone at night, know where your partner is at all times and tell your partner where you are. Set the hook in the direction opposite of your partner's location. Missing a fish with a hard hook set could cause an injury to your partner if they are in direct line with your hook set. When you do catch a fish, DO NOT hand land it. Use the proper landing net for muskies. Putting the net in a vertical position keeps it out of your walkway and makes it easier to get at.

Prepare for the unexpected. Are you ready for a heart attack? Unexpected hits at the boat can be terminal! The only way to prepare you for this is to ALWAYS expect a fish to be there. Execute a complete figure eight during each retrieve; in fact do a couple of them.

I would like to say in summary that muskei fishing at night is an adrenaline rush. The excitement of just planning a trip can intensify your heart rate. It is important that you do not loose site of safety and are prepared in advance. One accident at night could ruin a good thing.


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