Close your eyes and think about the biggest musky that is swimming in your home body of water. Imagine its immense girth, bulging and stretching its scales and skin apart to its brink yet, supported nicely by the ice-cold water surrounding it. Her head is massive and the jawbone is long. I am talking about a giant. A true beast. The musky that I am dreaming of perhaps weighed 35 pounds in June but now, by late October, she is exceeding 40 pounds. This fish has seen very few lures this season, a few in early June, but that is it. She has spent the majority of the open-water season suspended over the main lake basin, chasing pods of pelagic baitfish, but now she has made her way to the primary breakline as the cisco (tullibee) begin staging for their spawn. If you do not wet a line and put a lure in the water, this monster will likely never see a manmade piece of plastic with hooks this year. The ice will form and she will hibernate…
I was running out of time. It was to be my last trip of the year and my last chance to catch my first big musky (48-inches plus and/or 30-pounds). I had a $100 bet with my buddy’s wife that I’d catch one that year after she taunted me earlier about my lack of big fish success. I was determined to win that bet, no matter what it cost me!
The very nature of Fall is that of fluctuation and transition, shifting weather patterns are expected but can wreak havoc on our fall musky plans. Cold fronts, heavy rains, and a litany of other fall factors can slow that big bite, so it’s smart to have a backup plan in place. Keep in mind overcoming tough fall conditions isn’t always as simple as changing baits, it takes changing tactics and often a little creativity to put a musky in the net. So, let’s look at an “outside the box” trolling tactic that I turn to when fall conditions are less than stellar.
So many of today's Midwestern musky anglers are diehard casters. Some even consider trolling taboo, but that certainly wouldn’t be me. My fishing education background is principally centered around the foundations of Buck Perry, stressing the basic fact that "the fish are either deep, shallow, or somewhere in between".
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.
It has been written by many that experience is the best teacher, and I admit that I refer to past experiences quite often. No matter how much you glean from books, seminars and videos, nothing beats first-hand knowledge in any endeavor. When the subject is late fall muskies specifically, this simple aspect of practical experience can never be overstated.