While fishing timber for muskies is an ominipresent option in the South, the effectiveness of targeting timber across the entirety of the muskie's habit range can not be overstated. From Tennessee to Canada, if there is standing timber, logs, and laydowns, then there will be muskies. Timber and laydowns are a stationary type of cover that hungry muskies use as an ambush point regardless of season. These partially or fully submerged pieces of wood are something savy musky anglers know they can count on early in the season or during lean years when vegetation is lacking.
You could easily argue that I am a solid product of Rural America. My love of a simple, no frills, quiet lifestyle can’t be denied. My childhood in Southern Missouri was defined by outdoor adventure and an impossible distaste for shoes. All my “miles-between” neighbors and county school pals will be quick to tell you that fishing might well be in our blood. When my siblings, friends and I were small, our currency was tackle, our side-arms were Zebcos, and our battle hymn was the Ninja Turtles theme song. The memories of Saturday morning cartoons, followed by a mile-long trek to creeks and blue gill galore, shaped the person I am today, but what on Earth does this have to do with Musky fishing right? It’s only the beginning of it all. The beginnings of a love that takes you to your limit of highs and lows. The great hunt and the first catch.
A BIG secret – that doesn’t involve any secrets at all is understanding the capabilites of your lures and turning them into secret weapons. When your in complete control of your presentations and dialed in on the tiniest details of thier action even anglers throwing the same baits can't compete. Getting dialed in and unlocking the secrets of your tackle is a great off-season project for folks who chase muskie and pike where the water stays hard and/or have a closed season to fish for the species.
When musky anglers refer to the term jerkbait, we think of lures like the Suick, Bobbie Bait, Reef Hawg, GlideRaider and such. Yet bass anglers see jerkbaits as sinking/suspender style minnow baits. Muskie anglers usually call these same lures minnow baits or twitch baits. I tend to agree with the musky fraternity on this. So, jerkbaits mean different things to different folks. But, in order to keep things somewhat in line with how I adapted a bass/walleye tactic to the muskie game, I am going to refer to sinking/suspending minnow baits inside this article as jerkbaits.
If you have a case of the Winter Musky Blues, perhaps a trip to the Southern US this winter or spring might just be the cure. States, such as West Virgina, Kentucky and my homewaters of Tennessee where I am a guide have thriving muskie populations, and the only ice you'll encouter is in a glass of sweet tea.
Late one afternoon into my third day with no muskies boated and almost no fish action of any kind, a small pike suddenly pounced on my lipless JB Rattler lipless crankbait. Then another one hit, and then another. Baitfish started breaking the surface too near sunbaked shallow spots out of the big blow. I could sense something had definitely changed and a small window of opportunity was beginning to open up. Not surprisingly, small pike are often the first to respond when a bite is about to occur, and I was hopeful a musky strike was possible.
When first starting out in the musky game the figure eight can be one of the hardest techniques to master. Keeping your cool in the figure eight is extremely important and is the first step towards success. When a big musky rolls up at the end of a retrieve many beginners and professionals, yes professionals, can lose their cool and blow a figure eight. The challenge of overcoming that OH CRAP moment is very difficult.
In a perfect world musky would just be willing to chase down every offering we throw at them. Way more often they are sitting idle, suspended at any given depth in the water column, or essentially doing nothing.