Time and time again you’ve heard musky experts like Joe Bucher, Chas Martin and others talk about the importance of shallow water and the sun’s thermal effect on muskies during the early part the season. Its undeniable that post spawn muskies will seek refuge in “hot spots” like bays and coves that are at times only slightly warmer than the main lake basins. These “hot spot” muskies rarely venture far from the comfort of the shallow bays until a bit later in the season. But catching these shallow water fish can be frustrating as they are often more finicky than fired up.
Early spring muskie fishing is always an exciting time. Many of us enjoy ice fishing in the winter months, but it is muskie fishing that we truly live for. It is the most challenging but also the most rewarding type of fishing. Anyone who has spent any significant amount of time chasing these beasts knows what it is like to experience a slump. It seems like no matter what you do, sometimes you just can’t seem to put one in the net. You might go hours, days, or even weeks without a fish and when this happens early in the spring, it can be very disheartening. We spend months dreaming about it, and oftentimes come up short, but don’t be discouraged! Even the pros have been there! I am going to share some of my tips and experiences to help you this spring.
Just a few short weeks after the musky opener, the excitement of the early season can turn into frustration for many anglers. As the water temperatures start to increase so will the amount of boating traffic. Those peaceful afternoons on the water are quickly gone leaving behind an aquatic hellscape as every imaginable terror of the deep descends on our pristine musky lakes. Morons on jet skis, pontoons loaded with scantily clad geriatrics and pleasure boats with screaming children in tow are just a taste of the horrors that await.
With the muskie fishing opener quickly approaching in the northern zone, most of us LUNGE fanatics are eagerly prepping gear, cleaning out the boat and reviewing lake maps! It is certainly an exciting time of the season for all of us and, as much as we all enjoy a day out casting on our favorite waters, hoisting a muskie out of the net for a photo makes the experience that much better!
After a long off season, the opener is finally right around the corner. If you are anything like me, you are probably chomping at the bit to get out on the water and cast. We all know that good things never last forever, especially when it comes to the short musky season here in northern Wisconsin. With that being said, the first step to a memorable musky season is to start off in the right direction. As many of the waters are cold this time of year it is not always the easiest to catch muskies as they are not the most active yet. This means it is imperative to fish areas that are most likely to hold active fish in the early season.
Most musky anglers have run through the same progression of goals. First you just want to catch a musky…any musky. Then you want to catch a bunch of muskies. Finally the hunt for big fish is on. While you are sharpening your skills at catching muskies, you start to realize what it takes to catch a real trophy. Often the “numbers lakes” you are fishing offer little opportunity to bag that 50-plus incher, so you start zeroing in on noted big fish waters; usually bigger bodies of water where the fish can grow and thrive by not being as pressured as much as they would have been in smaller waters. Next comes the strategy of when may be the best times to pursue the quest of your trophy fish. After your game plan comes together and you are on the water, now comes the hard part…finding the bigger fish as fast as possible.
Early season musky fishing is something that all us, who are musky nuts, can't wait to start doing, yet few us are truly successful at catching fish during this period of time. You've heard all the cliches "It's too early, They're still spawning, The water's too cold, We need some nice weather to get'em going. " The list goes on and on, but for the most part none of it should hinder your ability to catch your favorite fish during the early season. What you do need to know is WHERE the muskies are exactly, and WHAT conditions and lures are going to trigger them to strike.
Few times of the season elicit more excitement from muskie anglers than opening weekend! Sharpening hooks, reviewing lake maps and putting an attack plan together with friends gets everyone fired up for the big day. But after hitting your “tried and true” spots with only a short pike to show for your efforts, many muskie hunters can experience an emotional letdown followed by confusion.
Musky Spring Musky Fishing Rattle traps, small gliders and diminutive bucktails are the proven early season producers that most musky anglers rely on. These down-sized presentations are right on target for the majority of season opener and are well suited to trigger strikes from post-spawn muskies.
Springtime musky fishing can offer exciting and explosive action. The early season is one of my favorite times to target muskies in northern Wisconsin. I believe that lake choice is a key factor in having early season success. Typically, what I start looking for are smaller lakes that are no larger than 300-350 acres with a high musky population. The reason being is that smaller lakes usually have an early ice out compared to larger lakes. With an early ice out, smaller lakes warm up faster and get a head start on the musky action.
During the early days of the Wisconsin Musky season small presentations are my number one key to sucess. While muskies will bite a variety of smaller baits some lures seem to stand out from the crowd. Wizards (Previously known as Rizzo Tails) and Buchertails 551 Tinbucks are early season superstars for my clients. These smaller bucktails are easy to works in and around shallow cover and structure making them simple to use but highly effective presentations.
I was about as excited as a 12-year old on “opening day”. I hadn’t caught a musky in almost 7 months, and here I was on an amazing lake during a prime time period. I’ve been getting mentally and physically ready for several weeks. I had plan A, B and C ingrained in my head. It wasn’t a matter of if I was going to catch a big one, it was how many of them will be boated. To say I was cranked up would be an understatement.
A number of tactics can work on spring muskies depending upon the region, topography and weather conditions. The pattern presented here is somewhat unique to northern waters for sure. Yet the principles of the solar influence as well as lure choices is apt to work anywhere it is applied.